Brighton Your Day


aura_icon.gif delilah_icon.gif devi_icon.gif elisabeth_icon.gif emily_icon.gif eve_icon.gif joe_icon.gif lilir_icon.gif magnes_icon.gif remi_icon.gif richard_icon.gif rickyr_icon.gif silvia_icon.gif walter_icon.gif

Scene Title Brighton Your Day
Synopsis An impromptu community cookout on Brighton Beach takes an unexpected turn.
Date March 24, 2019

Brighton Beach

Spring is well and truly in the air, chasing the last traces of winter’s chill away with a warm sun hanging in a brilliantly blue sky. There’s a hint in the air of the summer to come.

Gentle waves from the slate blue Atlantic Ocean lap at the beach. Froth and seaweed ride on the flow and ebb of seawater toward the tideline. Some of the slimy green strands tangles in a pile of driftwood and debris, leavings of the last high tide.

Gulls play near the surf, their sharp cries of birdlike laughter pierce the air. Others drift further out, lazily overhead. They glide and wheel in the sunlight, allowing the wind keep them aloft. Below, the light sparkles like a million diamonds off the swells and caps of the ocean’s movements.

It’s a picturesque scene, a serene painting or a clip from a movie that fails to capture the ruins of what was once Coney Island. The skeleton of the amusement park looms in the background like broken bones of a long forgotten mechanical giant.

Brighton Beach

NYC Safe Zone

March 24

4:37 pm

Calling out around the world

Are you ready for a brand new beat

Summer’s here and the time is right

For dancing in the street

Music flows out of speakers placed on pallets to keep them from the sand, setting a fun and upbeat atmosphere for the community-wide cookout. It’s uncertain what sparked the idea to pull the Safe Zone together in such a fashion, but once started the concept spread like wildfire and drew people in from all over. The invitation was open, anyone who wanted to would meet at Brighton Beach, and interested parties were asked to bring a dish to share. It wasn’t required, of course, but the more the better. Residents, old and young and middling all, have come out for a chance to share in food and fellowship.

They’re dancing in Chicago

Down in New Orleans

In New York City

Tables have come from everywhere, mismatched in size and shape, but all covered in festive tablecloths that are just as varied and eclectic as the tables they cover. Matching the hodgepodge of tables and cloths, food of all kinds is set out for the taking. Fruit and vegetables, for as rare as they are, are offered in fresh slices and chunks. There is a sizeable selection of casseroles and salads, bread and cookies. Grills sit off to the side, already heated through and offering the promising smell of cooked meats.

All we need is music, sweet music

There’ll be music everywhere

There’ll be swinging and swaying and records playing

Dancing in the street

A decent crowd has already formed. An older couple, recognized as frequent visitors to Prufrock’s Books, relax on a blanket together watching a group of young adults near the surf throw a football back and forth. It’s still too cold in the year to enjoy the water properly, but all the activities that can be enjoyed on the beach take place. Some youngsters have turned mounds of sand into lumpy sandcastles, a frisbee flies between several twenty-somethings. Voices enjoying themselves and the company fill the air with pleasant sounds, competing with the music.

Emily Epstein arrived earlier with one of the dishes set out on the folding tables, hers indistinguishable from the medley of other homemade makings at the moment. Some really talented cooks had been waiting for a moment to pour their heart out into feeding people, from the looks of it. Once arrived, she'd helped with the grill setup, and stands now with an awkwardly oversized apron tied around her all-too-thin form, spatula in hand as she flips burgers.

She's made her peace with being the only person she knows by pouring herself into the helpful activity, a quiet calm given to her by performing the small act of community service. Emily keeps mostly to herself, only looking up occasionally to see what people have arrived and what they're all up to.

“I got it, daddy,” Lili shouts as she carries a bag of paper plates and cups towards the tables at a trot, with Ricky trailing behind chasing her, “Hey, let me help! I can get something too!”

Richard can’t help but grin as the twins squabble over carrying things, for once fighting over who can be more helpful. He’s carrying a large foil-covered bowl himself, setting it down on one of the tables before turning to collect the bag with a chuckle, “Thanks, you two. You’re so helpful.”

As they beam at each other, he starts setting things out. It appears to be some sort of macaroni casserole - fairly simple, although the simple ingredients went a long way. He’s trying to be somewhat incognito, in jeans and a t-shirt, a raytech snapback and a pair of aviator glasses hiding his face a bit.

Silvia brought cookies. Mostly because cookies were one thing she could reliably make for a group by herself. It’s not that her cooking skills were bad—she just didn’t trust herself not to waste ingredients trying to make something more elaborate. Plus they were fast and easy. And who didn’t like a baked good with cinnamon? She sets the plate of snickerdoodles down on the table and immediately moves further onto the beach.

As she walks she pulls off her shoes, hopping on each foot as she removes them as well as her socks. Cold it might be but sand is her jam.

Remi sucks at cooking more than most boxed meals. Most people here probably had a hand in making what’s spread across the table; not Remi! She used some of that delightful government hush money to purchase a large tray of seven layer bean dip and a few bags of tortilla chips — she remembers enjoying the stuff at get-togethers years ago, so why not bring it to a community thing in her new community?

The woman, dressed in a pair of black leggings and a somewhat oversized Raytech shirt, sets the foil tray down, popping the lid halfway off to make for easier serving. Then, her oversized sunglasses are pushed up to the top of her head, and Remi turns, looking for a familiar face; the only one she finds, for now, is Richard, so she makes her way toward him, a pleasant smile on her face. “Richard,” she calls, raising a hand in greeting.

If there is one thing that is relaxing to Elisabeth, it's time in the kitchen cooking for a veritable army. And it's not something she's had the luxury to do in several years! So as she and Aurora make their way through toward tables where they're supposed to meet the Raytech types — Devi, Richard, whoever else shows up to the open invitation — Elisabeth is carrying two milk crates stacked in her hands. The petite pixie in green leggings and a long-sleeved top with her ubiquitous companion in a chokehold in her arm accompanying the blonde goes racing past to follow the colors of her siblings' voices and the three are rapidly out into the crowd. Ricky and Lili have an uncanny knack for drawing their younger sibling away from her comfortable bubble of adults.

The crates find their way onto the far end of the tables. There are four deep foil pans inside the milk crates with filling, cheap casseroles — two rice-based, two potato-based with canned meats and veggies. The second crate holds quick-breads, things she managed to find different kinds of flour to throw together. The advantage of living in housing with people who have home offices in places like the Midwest is that obtaining certain supplies is actually doable.

"Aura— " Never mind. Liz sighs, her blue eyes a bit more wary than such a social occasion calls for, but she's working hard to rein in paranoia and not cause Aurora to be socially anxious. The smells of the beach, familiar and not associated with all that many unpleasant memories, is actually a bit relaxing despite the number of people. She works on unpacking the crates quickly and then melding into invisibility in the background, her hands shoved into the back pockets of her jeans as she observes.

Silvia plops herself down in the middle of a good stretch of sand, stuffing her socks into her shoes and setting them down next to her. She wiggles her toes in the sand for a moment or two before they disappear in the sand—not because she buried them, but because they become sand. Her gaze moves around the rest of the beach, hovering over people enjoying themselves, others setting up food, and some kids who don’t look quite entertained enough.

A wide grin spreading across her face, suddenly Silvia is gone, only a pile of sand left where she sat. The sand pulls together, taking a new shape—a puppy. Specifically, a little gold sand cocker spaniel. It’s still obviously sand, but the design and shape of the creature is very realistic. It does look quite like a puppy. It bounds across the beach, skidding to a halt near where Lili, Ricky, and Aura are.

The sand pup makes like it’s yipping, but no sound comes out—because it’s made of sand.

Devi's dark hair and pale skin doesn't scream 'beach babe', but her outfit doesn't disappoint - a high waisted leather jacket bearing the wing-spread Raven emblem on its back, frayed skinny jeans, and gladiator sandals are all brought together by a seductively slashed tie-dye shirt reading 'Sturgis 2008' and reflective, rainbow-tinted aviators. The biker lumbers out of an old CJ-7 Jeep and moves to the back to heft up a large cooler before giving a wave to the driver.

As the vehicle pulls away the biker tips her head forward, letting her glass slide down her nose and reveal her dark eyes and vibrant violet shadow. "Hey, fam," she calls out, the husky tones heavy with teasing, as she moves towards the Raytech table. Devi makes her way across the sand and deposits the large cooler at the foot of the table - her contribution to the party painfully obvious. She reaches in and pulls up a few beers, offering them out to Richard, Elisabeth, and other familiar Raytech faces each in turn. Glasses till perch precariously on the lower part of her nose, she smiles at Elisabeth. "Don't worry, I brought O'Doul's for the kids." She winks.

Two square, unmarked white boxes of what is presumably pizza gently float down to the table, just kind of mysteriously. But soon after, Magnes himself gently lands in the sand, careful not to create some kind of awful debris.

He's opted to continue wearing his coat, though his clothing under it has become much lighter for the weather. It's pretty obvious that he hasn't quite grasped relaxing and chilling out yet, but this is probably the first time most of the people here have seen him in months, since the month they all returned.

"Hey." he immediately says after walking up to Elisabeth. He's looking around, immediately spots Emily, then looks to Elisabeth. "I'm not a fan of her." he states in a bit of a hushed tone. Then looks around some more, and then his eyes settle on Remi. "Fuck. Okay, I'm just going to casually find alcohol or something. Does anyone have alcohol?"

Joe has acquired hot dogs, and charcoal to cook them with. And from somewhere a whole lot of hot dog buns. They're all bagged up in unlabeled bags. So maybe from someone locally who's gotten a bakery up and running? He's set his grill up near the one Emily is manning, and is turning hot dogs on the grill regularly so they get good grill marks. Sitting on a pallet that he absconded with from somewhere are several of those huge boxes of like 80 hot dogs from Sams Club or Costco. How he got them out this way is well… not a mystery to those that know him.

"Emly." Joe remarks, leaning over a bit to peek at her, then rocks back the other way, then rocks back towards her again. "Emly." He repeats, voice growing in strength as he rocks closer, then fading as he rocks away and back to his grill, turning hot dogs, taking some off and handing them to waiting people in buns, then throws some more hot dogs on the grill to get cooking. "Emly." A wide grin on Joe's features by this point. "Hi Mister Shades! Hi Miss Liz!" He calls out to Richard and Liz as the pair approach the gathering with all three kidlets. He doesn't call him Cardinal or Richard Ray, so there's that. See he can be circumspect sometimes. Occasionally.

"Hi Pearl!" He calls out to Silvia when he sees her walking out towards the beach. Joe turns a couple hot dogs over on the grill, then reaches a hand under the grill itself and into the well… the fire and adjusts the pile of coals. With his bare hand. He shifts them around a bit so they're in a better cooking position, less stacked and more spread out. He also grabs a handful of coals out of the bag at his feet and pushes them in there. Again with his bare hand.

"Hi Ma….. uhh guy person am I allowed to say your name out loud?" He asks of Magnes, not being as quiet as he should. Cuz well… more often than not Joe is NOT being subtle. Or circumspect. Though when he sees Magnes eyeing Emily and talking to Liz Joe's eyes narrow a little bit in the man's direction. No picking on his friends. He'll totally fight someone over his friends.

A little blur of blue goes sliding on past adults to skid over to where the other kids are; Walter is tailed at a bit of length by his mother, who just looks permanently resigned to his scampering. It's been a thing since he could run, really. He brakes over with the kids with a "Hey!", a cap on his head and smears of sunscreen that haven't quite disappeared into his skin. He only needed to burn the once before he stopped complaining.

Dee is significantly less in a hurry, hair in a braid under a small sunhat, an old band t-shirt over the glide of a cotton skirt. She is adept at not stepping on her own hems while she carries over a big cake tin to the tables. "Jesus Christ, Liz. Way to show up." Off? Up? Related. "I'm here now, the party can start."

She's teasing. Mostly.

A pair of youngsters scamper among the tables as more food arrives, and their eager hands liberate several cookies and a huge serving of chips. They’re off again with their bounty, followed by a stern but amused look from a grandmotherly type who’s been helping Emily keep order at the tables and thanking everyone for their contributions.

“So many wonderful dishes,” she exclaims as casseroles and cake join the spread. “Oh, this is lovely.”

Several sets of eyes have caught on to Silvia’s antics. Wide, fascinated eyes peer over half formed sandcastles. Squeals of laughter follow after the sand-puppy and the crumbling piles are abandoned so the tiny architects can join in the fun.

Closer to the surf, the twenty-somethings let out a collective, laughing groan. Someone threw the Frisbee a little off course and its intended target has to run fast to catch it. His path takes him through the gulls feeding, sending them scattering and shrieking in protest; however, a last second dive earns him the Frisbee, but at the cost of landing in wet sand. He’s laughing, too, and sends the disc sailing back to the group.

Overhead, the interrupted birds cackle their complaints. Several wheel around and return to the water’s edge a distance from where they began. Others take the opportunity to touch down in the surf, becoming little feathered bobbers that ride the peaks and valleys with a dignity. It was their intention all along, and they preen to prove that point. A few find themselves in the softer, dry sand close to the food where they peck at the ground and eyeball the tables.

Generally, the birds keep their distance and fast walk away from the humans that get close. One, though, becomes bold enough to snatch one of Joe’s bags of buns. With a frantic flapping of wings and rustle of feathers, the gull takes off with its prize, but lands several yards away to investigate what it’s stolen.

Elisabeth turns to see Delilah and Magnes both approaching, and she laughs at Delilah. "Richard has threatened that if I don't go ahead and bring half of what I've made in the kitchen when I'm freaking out, he's gonna start a homeless kitchen out Raytech's back doors," she quips mildly. It's not that bad… but she has always used either cooking or music as stress relief — and in this case, she hasn't yet really begun singing again. Not really. So cooking it is.

Aurora, chasing after the twins, shrieks out in laughter when the sand puppy appears. Her trill of "PRIMAL!" rings out over the voices of conversation, and she is immediately diverted from a dead run toward Emily to the puppy, because…. Baby animal! Liz watches the streak that is Walter head in the same direction, amused to see all of them beginning to congregate. It's…. A strange juxtaposition for a moment. The next generation of "OMFG, what did you do???"

Magnes's words, however, bring Liz's eyes around more warily to see who he's referring to. When she identifies Emily, her shoulders relax from their instant at-attention reaction. "Take it easy on her," she tells him in the same big-sister tone she gives him when a Gibbs-slap might be imminent. "She was Dev's friend." Devon, the not-quite-adopted-son who is supposedly dead on a Wolfhound run. A report that Liz is staunchly viewing with abject suspicion. In her world, no body == no sure death. Ever. "She's hurting, and she's been through a lot. Especially since his reported KIA." Her tone is low, but insistent that Magnes needs to listen and take it easy on the teen. "Devi! Bring out the beers!"

"Fuck's sake— Joe, quit that." Emily hisses at him, smacking the top of his hand with her large metal spatula as soon as it comes back into view after he continues to handle the coal with his bare hands. "You're gonna make all these fucking kids think it's okay to do that. Even if it doesn't hurt you, it'll hurt them." Seeing Aurora starting to run their way, her mood darkens even further. "Like that one."

It doesn't take much to break her serenity, generally speaking. Today's no different.

She lets out a long sigh as he starts calling out hellos to others, her eyes catching on one after the other. "Great," Emily murmurs under her breath, grasp tightening on the wooden handle of the grill tool she's wielding. It's a relief when little Aura peels away to run toward Silvia instead, and she sends a silent thank-you the sand puppy's way with a meaningful look. Still, there's plenty of other people she doesn't want to see, plenty of others who could wander closer.

Flipping and then reflipping the burgers currently on the flame, Emily nods to herself and shuffles them off one at a time onto a plate. "Marie," she says to the woman by the table. "Could you please help me get those over? I'll start another round and see where we're at after that." A lot of people had just arrived, after all. Hopefully she can stick to her self-assigned duty and avoid most other interaction.

Except Joe. Emily seemed to be stuck with Joe, but that wasn't new.

Far off down the beach a dark shape can be seen. Dark material of a large overcoat flaps in the figure's wake as it slowly makes it way towards where all the fuss is coming from. Dark strands of hair fly into a sunglass covered face from underneath a rather large black floppy hat. The lenses pitch black covering the woman's eyes from view. Lips unpainted are pressed into a flat line as her gaze travels over the group of people. So many she knows. "Mmm." She murmurs softly to herself. A hint of white as she smiles. Whyyyyy notttt.

Being barefoot on a beach isn't so strange but the dark haired, large hat wearing woman doesn't immediately come over instead she skips closer to the shore line. Delilah had seen this ensemble once before. Otherwise the hat mostly covers Eve Mas' face from view. "Winner winner…" as she tiptoes slowly to where a seagull plucks at the sand and whatever prize is beneath the sand. "Chicken…" Then Eve dives towards the seagull, "Dinner!"

Since her explosion she fancies herself a "world renowned" hunter. Oi.

She Who Brought the Brews pops the top on her beer after handing out those to any willing imbibers nearby. Devi stops at Elisabeth calls out for more and a glint off those prismatic, reflective aviators shines boldly when the biker turns her visage down-and-up over Magnes. The raven-haired woman extends the untouched beer out towards him. "Here you go, Superman. Sounds like you need it."

Devi reaches into the cooler to replace her own beer and then takes a seat at the table. The cooler serves to double as a footrest before she raises her bottle in salute to those congregated nearby. Head tipped to sip, a penciled brow starts to creep up-up-up until she has no choice but to lower her beer bottle and push her glasses up off her face to squint at something further down the beach, making certain of exactly what she's just witnessed. "Is that … Did that person just tackle a friggin' dumpster duck? I mean, I know people are hungry, but damn!"

"Sure, I'll take it easy on her, she's only Eileen's messenger and knows exactly where Addie is and won't tell me." Magnes off-handedly says in his still-whispered tone before he turns to Devi, taking the beer. "Thanks! Anyway, I'm just going to relax and not make a big deal out of anything today, especially since I have enough on my mind."

When Delilah shows up, he walks over and seems almost like he's going to hug her, but then just smiles. "Hey. I probably should have asked if you were coming, I could have flown you both over."

But then the person who gave him a beer is pointing something out, and he looks over at the figure hunting a seagull. "Hold on, Delilah."

Leaping into the air suddenly, he crosses the entire distance between him and Eve, gently landing a few feet from her as she hunts the bird. "I can just give you food, you know. You don't have to hunt seagulls and be alone." He holds a hand out to her, extending an offer for her to bridge the gap between them, if she so chooses. "A lot of friends are here, I brought pizza, there's other food. As long as you keep your clothes on around the kids, you'll be fine."

The telepath has already spotted Magnes — and aside from an occasional glance to make sure he’s keeping his distance, she is very much okay with staying away from him. Instead, once he’s well away from Liz, she makes her way over to the audiokinetic, hands fidgeting at the hem of her Raytech t-shirt.

She comes to a stop next to the blonde, blue eyes roaming over the spread of food that the woman brought. “Mon dieu,” she murmurs, the French utterances kept quiet. Then, she’s switching to her American accent. “Quite the feast you’ve made,” she points out, grinning sheepishly over at Liz. “How’s everything going?” A glance toward Aurora. “She doing okay with everything?”

Anything to avoid the topic of why she keeps casting somewhat anxious glances over at Magnes. You know, to make sure he’s not going to try to talk to her.

"If I were him I wouldn't have said anything so I could keep it all for myself." Delilah asides to Elisabeth's quipping. "But I'm kind of a pig too, so, I mean—" Her cake tin sets down with the other desserts in a pointed thud.

When the redhead straightens out she glimpses the shape down the beach a moment before Magnes moves over; she greets him with a smile and a brief touch to his arm. Okay? "It's fine, we caught a ride." Carpooling, the Future. Brown eyes dart back to where she last saw the familiar frame, only to find it bodyslamming a seagull.

"Christ, Eve—" Delilah hisses under her breath, taking a half step back from the table and stopping when Magnes pops up into the air. She lets out an audible sigh, tearing her eyes away from the two and back to organizing the table. "If she brings that thing over I am not plucking it.", said to nobody in particular.

Yip yip! Or at least, those would be the noises the sand puppy would make if she had vocal chords. Can’t really make noises when you’re made out of sand. Still, she moves around, making figure eights between the children and wagging her tail excitedly, looking at each of them with bright sandy eyes. It’s almost as if she’s real. Suddenly, she bolts across the sand, skidding to a halt a short distance away and paces back and forth, waiting to see which child can get to her first!

Gulls shrill out curses at Eve’s attempt at a snack, but the one she attempts to grab escapes her fingers with high-pitched crowing. The whole group of them run with wings spread and flapping. One after another they lift off the ground and fly a short distance through the air, then land on the beach as though nothing had happened.

Marie begins cutting into the cake as soon as it’s placed on the table, expertly slicing portions that could be finished in a few bites but stretch the serving numbers far and wide. She makes a sound of acknowledgement when Emily speaks, and looks up at the young woman once she’s finished with the cake. “Yes, of course.”

Marie steps around the tables to take the plate of burgers. Space is made amongst the other dishes, some casseroles moved aside and other sides shifted out of the way so the burgers can be set down among them.

The path down the beach that Silvia takes brings her close to the tangle of driftwood. A few of the children follow the sand-puppy on a merry chase, their little feet making dimples in the sand. Others find themselves distracted by the seagull that made off with the hotdog buns. The light wind carries excited laughter and chatter from both groups back toward the adults, marking their play.

Near the driftwood, what looked like shadow beneath the tangle from a distance becomes distinguishable as clothing, a pair of old jeans and a sweat shirt. It could possibly be dismissed as castoffs that washed ashore recently at first, but a second look proves there’s too much order and form to the clothes. It isn’t just castoffs or ocean debris, it’s someone that’s been washed up onto the beach.

Having come from a world where seagulls abound, Elisabeth is more than aware of their presence. They are thieves of the first order. And given that there is an Eileen sort of out there possibly gunning for Liz … well, she's a little leery of the birds. When they steal Joe's hotdog buns, she calls over to the teen who greeted her. "Hey! Watch out! They're stealing your bread!" She herself is not going to throw things at birds that might be Eileen's eyes. The avian telepath is already pissed off enough at her — or so she believes.

The children moving further down the beach renders the audiokinetic a little concerned — as any parent with a kid near water probably is. And she starts to move that direction, if only to keep the smallest ones in her line of sight without being a helicopter parent. "She's actually doing really well," she replies to Remi's query a bit absently.

Magnes's words, however, bring her blue eyes back to his face, laser-bright with intensity. "What?" Her reaction to hearing that her niece is being kept from Magnes by someone standing right there is the not-so-subtle HUM that springs into being. Rage. Magnes can see it flare to life, and everyone near her feels the buzz of not-quite-sound thrum, sending sand waves fluffing away from the audiokinetic. Elisabeth actually misses the fact that the figure OUT THERE with the gulls is Eve, who she still thinks is dead!

Aurora, chasing Silvia the Sand Puppy down the beach with abandon, her siblings and others in proximity, seems to be having a grand time. But as the puppy brings them closer to the driftwood, the little girl stops and goes far more serious than anyone her age ought to be. "Uh-oh. Did he falled out of the sky and land in the water like us? Is he drownded?" Because… it's not like she hasn't lived falling out of the sky into the ocean and nearly drowning herself! She clearly does not want to approach the bundle of clothes just in case it's dead. Lili and Ricky pause near her and at Aurora's question, Lili — ever practical — comments, "Ohboy. I'll go get Daddy an' Mum." Ricky, far less patient, just goes tearing up the beach shouting, "DAD!!! There's a dead guy!"

The sand puppy was having a good old time with the kids, but as soon as they’re close enough to see that the driftwood isn’t exactly what they thought, she skids to a halt. The sand puppy sits and abruptly reforms into Silvia who sits, shoeless, staring at the pile. Aurora’s words get her attention and she gets to her feet, turning away. “Yes, go get them. Please.”

She starts to herd the children back towards the rest of those on the beach, but her eyes kind of look hollow. As she walks, she waves her hands up in the air. “Hello! I need an adult please!”

Richard’s been helping get everything set up and unpacked - a beach blanket stretched out, some chairs unfolded, an umbrella set up. Food on the tables. It’s going to be a nice day. He hasn’t noticed the bird-chasing Eve, and let Liz handle Magnes the Flying Pizza Deliveryman.

He even limited his leering at Devi to a playful few moments.

It’s not until there’s that hum in the air that he looks up from cracking open his beer, looking over to Elisabeth with unhidden concern. “— whoa, lover, easy. What’s going…”

Stepping over to her, the sudden shout from his children get his attention even faster than the hum did, and he’s abruptly breaking into a run in their direction.

Delilah is setting into helping Marie while the kids play and people mingle, and a few get a little testy; she isn't really paying attention until she hears a pitchy kiddie yell from down the beach. "Wait, what the fuck did he just say?"

No sooner has she said it do others hightail it over; Delilah too, drops what she's doing and turns after their wake, following at a trot.

With the other kids chasing the sand dog, the revelation that there's a person on the beach is startling for Walter too, to say the least. He grabs Aura by the shoulder and steps in front of her, head craning up as Silvia starts herding kids away.

"Wait, what if he's not dead?!" Walter is keenly aware that nobody has actually checked, and what if he needs help? In his brilliant eight year old decision-making, the boy decides that he is going to be that person. Rather than letting Silvia herd him away, Walter ducks out of reach and goes right up to the tangled pile of driftwood and its, er, inhabitant. He picks up a thin stick on the way. Yes, he's going to poke.

"Hey! Are you alive?" Well. What else is he supposed to ask?

Joe's assault by the birds brings Emily's attention back up after laying more burgers, brow arching as she wonders how he'll handle it. Sure, he's not likely to be injured, but she still can't help but watch. A faint laugh escapes her before she looks past him, to where Magnes has gone. Her brow furrows, the woman's figure passing familiar and the act of assaulting birds more than familiar —

Before she's distracted by seeing the kids start rushing back their way, shouting. She blinks, processing, and watches as Richard takes off.

They're all asking for adults, but what they're really asking for are authorities. Emily steps back from the grill, fishing a hand into her pocket to pull out her phone and start dialing the MPs.

"I'm calling now," she announces for anyone who had been considering. Or hey, maybe she was the only one onsite with a GhostNet plan. Out of either morbid curiosity or trying to figure out if she needs to ask for either an ambulance or the coroner, she slips out from behind the grill, neck craning to try and get a better look.

Emily remains oblivious to Liz's transformation into a human tuning fork, what with everything else going on. Her eyes are elsewhere.

Joe rolls his eyes at Emily chiding him for handling the burning coals with his bare hands. Sure if he has his hands in there enough he'll get burned. But just putting them in to shift the coals around isn't enough. He used to do it when he was a kid. If any of his siblings were there they'd be used to the sight. He looks over in surprise when a bird snatches some of the hot dog buns. "Ems watch the grill?" He asks of her, pulling a hot dog bun out of the open bag and moving in the direction of the gull. He's going to try and trade an easy access bun for the bag full of them. Less likely to scare the bird off hopefully. When Eve goes jumping after another gull he just waves to her. "Hi Aunt Eve! You should come get a hot dog in a minute!"

Someone who could handle the situation was needed, as that certainly wasn’t Silvia. In her attempts to herd the children back away from what very well could be a dead body, one escapes her and goes to investigate. Her eyes fix on Walter with a somewhat horrified look, one that tries not to look past him and to the body.

“N-No, you shouldn’t look,” she says, although it’s hard to really tell if she’s talking to Walter or herself. It isn’t as if it’s the first time she’s seen a dead body, if he is indeed dead. It’s not the first time she’s seen a drowned body either. This situation was different. This situation shouldn’t have an effect on her. It shouldn’t.

Silvia looks away from Walter, glancing around at the remaining children and seeing that their respective parents were headed to fetch them or at least handle things she starts to walk away. Still barefoot, her shoes and socks lay abandoned on the beach. They aren’t forgotten—she’s just chosen to walk away. Sacrifices sometimes had to be made for the greater good.

The large, rainbow aviators pushed atop her head reflect and refract light as she indulges a little wink in Richard's direction and then a waggle of her brows in Liz's. In general, it's safe to say that Devi treats most days like they are just another day at the beach. But, clearly there is something especially nice about this one.

Beer tilted, the biker freezes and even cocks her head to the side, ear up. Dead body? Devi's sandals drop to the sand and she's just about to stand up. But, then someone is calling for an adult - so she plops right back down! Slowly her head pivots around to Liz. The teeth-chattering, skin-crawling buzz that emanates out from the blonde is becoming more and more familiar. "Your poker face sucks," Devi says, in as flat a tone as her husky teasing can muster. "I'm going to go check out the floater before I crawl out of my skin, D.D. Try not to hurt anyone too bad. I think someone's callin' the Five-Oh as it is."

With that said, and with beer still in hand, Devi starts to pick her way across the beach and towards the body - her pace decidedly more casual than all the parents. She waves at Aurora and even reaches up to take off her glasses and give them prismatic shades to the little girl before continuing on to scope out the more-than-likely-dead person.

The broken telepath is about to reply to Liz’s statement about Aurora, and perhaps also address the hum in the air, but her attention is rather suddenly drawn away from the present situation by a child calling out about a dead body. Remi turns toward the source, brows raising slightly — instinctively, she hopes it’s nobody that she knows, even though she’s fairly sure that it is definitely not someone she knows.

However, being from a world where the most common cause of death is by drowning, the instinct is there. It’s enough to drive her toward the source, brows raised slightly as she snags a soda on her way over to gawk along with the others. Her path brings her right alongside of Devi, whose casual pace matches her own.

“Crazy shit, huh,” she murmurs to the dark-haired woman, raising a brow.

The children’s shouts draw more than just looks in their direction, and Richard isn’t the only parent moving to collect a kid or two. The youngsters chatter with worried excitement as they’re herded away from the driftwood to be returned to the adults.

“Did you see it?”

“It’s a body!”

“I know it’s a body. Do you think it’s dead?”

The seagull pecks and pokes at the bag of buns that it had stolen, managing to drag it a foot at a time to keep its treasure and its distance from the humans that come near. Joe in particular gets the raw side of the bird’s language; it belts out a series of complaints as it waddles several feet away without its haul.

The question from Walter gets no response, but he may be able to see the subtle movements of breathing causing the body’s torso to expand and contract. Yet, when the stick in his hand jabs into the body, it flinches away from the intrusion with small movements. The person definitely isn’t dead. When the boy prods again, the body’s head turns, face dragging against the sand, to stare at the little redhead without comprehension for a full second before eyes slide closed.

The face isn’t one that Walter knows, but Richard and Elisabeth recognize it almost immediately. Emily, from her vantage point, can begin to make out the familiar features of someone who shouldn’t be there.

Dirty blond hair and a face that usually holds an easy grin, though right now it’s gone slack with fleeting consciousness. There’s abrasions and some bruising beneath the sand that’s clung to the skin, however there’s no denying that Devon Clendaniel lays upon that beach.


Silvia is too far to really know if the body is alive or dead. It doesn’t matter at this point because her mind has drawn conclusions and brought back memories best left forgotten. She makes her way over to the nearest structure she can safely lean against and does so, squeezing her eyes shut and taking deep breaths. It’s a challenge with the way her chest has tightened up and her ears are ringing, but she keeps on with her attempts to focus. The rest of the world has been forgotten for the moment.

Whatever anger reaction Elisabeth was about to have is short-circuited at the sound of the children shouting dead body. Her head whips around to the shouting, her heart suddenly pounding hard in panic. The hum dissipates around her, her control slammed back into place by the potential threat to the children and the desperate need to protect. She pivots on a heel and runs.


It's as instinctive as breathing — he's in range, he's able to shield the kids from whatever is incoming next. Her voice carries above the wind, straight to the gravitokinetic.

She's not very many steps behind Richard as he lands next to Ricky, bypassing the group of kids clumped together under Silvia's watch with a soft, quick, "Hang in there, hun. Parents incoming to help. You did good!" But her first worry is Walter is up there messing with the body on the ground. "Walter, step back!" she orders, her tone firm.

For a moment as she catches sight of the face of the person on the beach, the whole world ceases to exist around her, Liz's ears filled with a roar that drowns out even the wind off the water. This can't be happening… Unconsciously reaching her power out, the reassuring sound of his heartbeat isolated from all the rest pulls her from the moment of utter shock. "He's not dead!" she calls over her shoulder, nudging Walter back with shaking hands. "Someone grab some blankets!" It's too cold for him to be kept out here.

Emily waits for the operator to finish their greeting before she speaks, her head still craned, eyes focusing on the distant figure. "Yes, hello, this is —"

She blinks. Then furrows her brow. Her stomach drops as she sees what she thinks is … what almost looks like …

"Ma'am?" The voice on the other end of her phone says for the second time.

Elisabeth's crouching by the body, shouting the person who looks like Devon is alive. It jolts Emily back to the moment, reminding her what she needs to convey. "I-I'm down at Brighton Beach, at the community cookout that's going on." She turns away from the scene, reciting the cross-streets that had been listed on the flyer.

Devon had died in the Dead Zone. That was out West. There was no way… no way that…

"Someone just washed up on shore, they need an ambulance. People are saying he's alive — he's still breathing." While she waits for the operator to either press for details or give her instructions, Emily chances a look back up, and her chest tightens again as she sees another angle of the man's face. Her feet start to pull her in the direction the kids are being shooed away from. Was it foolish to hope her eyes weren't playing tricks on her?

“Kids, get back to Liz and Auntie Devi,” Richard says - just a little sharply - as he reaches the twins and Aurora, waving them back to the others approaching before moving to pass them, Walter’s brave approach causing a knot of worry to tighten in his gut that only a parent can really understand. He picks up his pace to come up closer to the body and the child, calling cautiously even as Liz moves to try and scoot him back, “Walter, c’mon back from there, kiddo, you don’t know…”

Know what? Because as the head moves, as the face comes into view, Richard stops dead in his tracks. A hand comes up to push the sunglasses up on his face, light-sensitive eyes squinting as he tries to make sure his mind isn’t playing tricks on him.

It’s not.

A quick glance over the beach takes in the situation, notes Emily there on the phone— 911 he hopes— and Elisabeth’s already getting basic first aid taken care of. His own phone’s snapped into his hand, and he taps it to life, thumb brushing over the surface as it connects to GhostNet.

“Alia,” he says tightly, “Patch me through to Wolfhound.”

"He's not dead, I think he's hurt—" Walter doesn't finish, because Devon's eyes are closing again and the boy's hand drops the stick to more gently shake the man's shoulder. Falling asleep is what dying people do, right?!

A glance up gets him an eye and earful of Elisabeth and Richard, and he hops back as they both usher him away. "He opened his eyes for a second, Ms. Harrison.." He adds, in a shyer tone, stepping back even further, eyes just now getting large.

Of course someone is telling her son to stop doing something, he's probably doing something foolish. Delilah comes to a stop just behind the rest of the adults, hearing the ensuing conversation before she moves in to retrieve the eight year old. "Give them some room." What she noticeably doesn't do is chide him for checking. Even if it was with a stick.

Delilah wraps an arm around Walter's shoulders as she pulls him away, fishing for her phone. "I'll ring the hospital and tell them to be ready…"

Devi falls into step with Remi easily enough, the other woman's comment coaxing up the left corner of her painted lips. "Just another day with the Rays, if you ask me," the biker coos back playfully, tipping her beer aside toward Remi to give a little clink of her bottle against the woman's soda. "Oh, shoot! Hear that? The floater's alive! Good news? Well maybe you are right - crazy shit, indeed." She chortles warmly and continues on…

Until Richard's words have her stopping short. "Auntie Devi?" The biker looks around, as if worried that someone else might have overheard that endearing, domesticated title. Her swiveled gaze stops at Remi at her side and she drops her husky voice to a raspy whisper. "Dunno at what point they thought that it was a good idea to put me in charge o' the kiddos…" She sticks her tongue out, but is grinning by the time she looks back to the children. She waves a hand and beckons, calling out to the tiny humans. "Come on, kids. I think I've got some firecrackers. Auntie Devi will show you how to blow holes in the sand - much faster than digging and all that sh-stuff." Devi's hand disappears to an inside pocket of her leather jacket, rummaging around.

Joe is never one to be left out of the excitement. So as the kids go streaming back towards the main group he hands the bag of buns to one of them and asks them to take them over to Emily, pointing out the blonde before he goes racing headlong down the beach towards the body and the people gathering nearby. "Holy crap that's Devon. Devon why are you face down in the sand half dead looking?" He asks you know… Devon. He doesn't try to move the guy though. He doesn't know if he has any kind of injuries that might be upset by being moved. He looks around the group nearby a little bit. "We shouldn't move him, in case he's wounded. As long as he keeps breathing we should leave him in place." As long as he keeps breathing. Joe is watching Devon's chest very carefully to make sure that it is indeed still moving. “Devon are you hurt? Talk to us. You better not be messing around it’s not funny. I mean it’d be a little funny. But that’s a long way to go for a prank. So yeah. Better not be playing. But if you are give me some kind of sign. I won’t tell anyone else I promise.” Joe talking cuz Joe is nervous. He might not be close friends with Devon but he knows the guy.

"Shhhh." Eve presses her fingers to Magnes' lips as the gull flies away, "Drat!!" She's just about to go on about how she almost had the bird when everyone is making a fuss and people are running towards… a dead body?

Eve runs off towards the group of people huddled around but she stays on the edges, leaving Magnes' field of gravity for the moment that they are separated. Wisps of smoke rise off of her she must have been smoking earlier and she peers through those dark sunglasses over the shoulder of someone, Richard. Before skipping backwards again and looking towards Magnes. "Pizza sounds nice."

When Elisabeth shouts, Magnes immediately leaps ahead of Eve, landing right behind Aurora and wrapping an arm around her waist. He's reaching out toward Walter, about to pull him into his field, right before Delilah grabs him herself and Elisabeth seems to have calmed down.

He remains crouched, and smiles at Aurora. "Sorry, don't be scared. We're just being cautious." he reassures her, some sand slightly orbiting around the two of them when he extends his gravitational field in a somewhat defensive manner. "We can play astronaut later. I already taught Walter how to play! And you'll even get to play with Addie soon, though not today."

The way that he speaks to Aurora is familiar, like he's used to occasionally having to take care of and defend her. Though he can never quite shut off his nurturing dadstincts either way. "Eve! Don't touch the guy, get some pizza! I'll be over there in a minute." While she isn't touching the guy quite yet, he wants to get ahead of the potential for that situation.

“Not surprising,” Remi replies dryly to Devi’s comment about the Rays, clinking her soda can against Devi’s beer bottle in a cheers. The news that the floater is alive dissolves a little bit of the tension out of Remi’s posture. She even chuckles at the dark-haired woman’s remark about children. “You got me. I’m just glad it’s not me.” She likes kids well enough, but has never really been the babysitting type, so she’ll leave that to the designated Auntie.

Any amusement on her face drains, however, as she comes close enough to see who it is that has washed up on shore. The last time she saw Devon’s face was at a dinner in an underwater facility where MIT is today — he wasn’t one of the ones doing the shooting, but he was there.

Everyone else appears to have this situation under control, so Remi decides to take her chances with herding the children toward Devi. In doing so, she notices…Eve. Well, this is just a day of shockers.

Silvia can still hear voices, but they sound distant and echo in her head. Her back to the wall, she slides down until she’s sitting, knees hugged to her chest. She looks towards the beach again but there’s enough people crowded around that she can’t see anything anymore, especially from her angle low to the ground. She pulls her gaze away from the beach and looks towards the sky instead, doing her best to breathe deeply and try and calm her rapid breaths. For a moment, she thinks about trying to pull her phone out, but she thinks better of it. Better just wait it out.

Marie comes from behind the tables to help shepherd the children up the beach. She brings a calm, collected attitude toward the turn of events that seems to ease the parents’ worries and draw most of the kids’ attention. She passes around slices of cake to the youngsters while rambling on about her favorite things from when she was a child. It’s inconsequential, but it holds their attention.

Some of the older kids find fascination in Devi. A biker chick in leathers and sunglasses being called auntie is a sure way to capture their excitement. Especially with the possibility of firecrackers.

While Joe’s questions tumble around Devon, one of the twenty-somethings has emerged from the interrupted Frisbee game with several beach towels. “It’s the best we could find,” he explains when he stops near Elisabeth. He seems reluctant to go much closer, but holds the towels so anyone could take them.

On the ground, Devon forces his eyes open again. As Joe’s questions follow one after another, he stares straight ahead. His eyes slide closed as the questions taper off, then work open again to look up at the faces coming into focus. Confusion writes itself plainly in his expression at the scene that greets him, which propels arms and legs to move in fits and starts with the intent of getting up.

Aurora wraps her small arms around Magnes's neck when he lands there next to her, her hazel eyes serious. "Unca Magbutt… izzat Mr. Devon from the water place? Did he falled through the magic doorway?" That he's not dead has eased the little girl just a hint, but she clearly wants the reassurance of a familiar form. The twins being around her and Walter and his mum aren't quite enough. Daddy and Mummy are a little busy.

Glancing over her shoulder toward Richard, Elisabeth notes that he's on the phone with something of a grim expression. She moves to get the towels offered by the young man who brings them and gives him a look of gratitude. "Thanks." Joe is encouraged to keep talking to Devon with a motion of her hand. He needs to be kept calm. Then her blue eyes skim the group again. Reluctantly — very, very reluctantly — she projects her voice, low and steady, toward Emily. "I need you to come over and help him. Seeing me… could really freak him out and make him think—"

She's cut off as he starts to get up, and Elisabeth goes back to her knees, her voice laced with soothing wavelengths. "Don't get up yet. We don't know if you've been hurt internally," she urges with her hand on his shoulder. Shit. Please, God, don't think you're dead. How the fuck he got here like this is a series of questions for later.

"I'm not sure yet, but we'll find out." Magnes tries to reassure Aurora, keeping an arm around her waist. He lifts her quite easily, since he can simply lower her weight, and moves over to the table and away from all the action. "Don't worry though, everything's fine. We're home now, and safe, and between everyone here, no one's getting hurt or in danger, okay? If anyone tries to hurt you, I'll bury them in the sand and you can draw on their face."

"Whoah whoah whoah buddy. Nope nope. Come on. You're fine. Don't need to go thrashing around. How yah doing Dev? Haven't seen you in awhile. Not since the war was still on and you were bringing us supplies." Joe keeps on talking as he takes towels from 20 somethings and tries to tuck them around Devon to help dry up some of the cold water. "Easy buddy." Joe chatters on at Devon, talking about his trips up to Canada during the war and stuff, asking about day to day things with Wolfhound. You know… chatter. If there is one thing in the world Joe can be expected to do it's chatter. And he puts his powers to good use.

"Can someone go check on Silvia?" Joe asks the crowd, gesturing in Silvia's direction. His friend is obviously distressed but he's trying to help the supposedly dead guy not be dead. "Hang in there Pearl!" He calls out to her, trying to be supportive from afar as he continues trying to wrap Devon up in towels. "So how'd you end up on the beach bud? I mean this has to be one of the most primal entrances I've seen in awhile. If you wanted to come to the party so bad you coulda just rode a car. Didn't need to swim the whole way." Joe babbling as he checks Devon over, hands moving along his limbs, gently turning them over, looking for bruising. Anyone familiar with first aid would recognize some rudimentary training for Joe as he gently examines the human driftwood.

Eve's head tilts to the side and her large hat blocks the sun from Devon's face, "Oh! Oh! Pizza it is." The dark haired woman keeps her sunglasses on her face and she skips away through the sand, swinging her head as she places a hand atop her hat. People had the young man attended for and this pale woman needed some pizza. There goes that whiff of smoke again, what has she been smoking?

With a great sigh of content she sinks in front of the pizza and pulls a piece immediately stuffing her face. "Glorious."

Somewhere, Silvia thinks she hears Joe’s voice, but she can’t be sure. A tiny part of her, in the back of her head wants to know if the fellow on the beach is alright, but even thinking about that increases her nausea. She pushes herself to her feet, wobbling a little as she uses the wall to right herself. She waits a moment or to in order to see if the spinning stops, but when it doesn’t go away she makes the decision. She has to get out of here before she feels worse. The beach gets a half-a-second glance before she stumbles away, barefoot, her shoes still sitting all alone on the beach.

"They'll have a bed ready for him. Just gotta get him there." Delilah relays from her phone after a minute of a conversation which requires repeated phrases. Connection issues and all. Still, she is patient, and the others seem to have a handle on things physically. Her hand finds Walter's shoulder to turn him around.

"I need you to go back and stay with the other kids…" Dee glances up to where Joe is wrapping Devon up, and back to those baby blues still wide with a baffled expression. They are far back enough that they can have an exchange out of the way; she puts a hand around her son's cheek and whispers, "I love that you wanted to make sure he was okay, but you need to be more careful. We can talk about it later."

"Nnn…" The initial noise is a sound of confusion, though Walter's attention remains on his mother instead of the driftwood man. "Nnmkay. Sorry. I'll be careful…" He mumbles most of it, to which Delilah just gives a sympathetic smile as she sends him off.

There is just a lot going on. After all the necessary information has been given, the operator decides to let Emily go instead of waiting for the line to presumably drop due to bad service, and the teen slowly lets the phone slide from her face.

Elisabeth was asking her to come over. So it's not just Emily seeing things. Joe was saying his name out loud — so it's not just her. Eve is flitting around the area, and then away to food, and she makes sure she stays out of her way. She looks in the direction Silvia's heading off in with a furrowed brow, wishing she could head that way as well, but she edges past Magnes and Aurora as they head in opposite directions, standing by Joe and Elisabeth instead. This close, there's no doubting who she sees sitting there.

"Swim, fall out of the sky. Who knows with him, Joe." Emily slowly lowers herself down into a crouch, movements far more wary than she sounds. One knee sinks into the sand as she reaches for him. "Relax," she recommends mildly. "You're all right."

For all she knows, it's not her Devon. With her luck, it's some guy who wears his face, some reality-traveler washed ashore. But just in case it isn't, just in case Liz's hunch was right about the boy she called her son not being dead, she takes a hold of his hand and holds on tightly.

“…Richard Ray. Can you patch me through to Gitelman, or Epstein, or any of the team commanders? Whoever’s available immediately, and no, this cannot wait,” Richard is on the phone still, lowering it slightly and covering the speaker with his hand as he looks over, “Delilah, was it Elmhurst you called? I need to know where they’re taking him— “

Noticing the injured man starting to rise in his confused state, he raises his voice, keeping it sharp and commanding, “Red Knight Three, stay down.”

Back to the phone, waiting anxiously as he watches the scene, free hand absently fidgeting by his side in clear anxiety over his inability to immediately do anything.

Concern creases Remi’s features as she observes the scene; she glances about to all of the faces gathered, all the people helping, and starts to slowly draw away. Another quick glance around reveals Silvia walking away without shoes.

After glancing back to everyone else, the telepath moves to follow Silvia, grabbing up the girl’s shoes as she goes. Poor kid seems like she needs some air, and Remi’s feeling about the same, so off she goes.

Having been abandoned by Remi, Devi is faced with a small stampede of various aged children - mostly those whose parents were to occupied or too slow to snatch them away. The biker seems undeterred. “That’s right. This way, goobers.” The raven haired woman plucks up a lonely sand shovel and wanders to the water’s edge. “Here, hold this.” She hands whichever kid is nearest a small, finger-sized fire crack. She peers suspiciously at the Chosen Child. “You don't have a lighter on you, right?”

With a grin Devi digs a little divot and instructs the kid to set the firecracker inside. A little sand over the top and she straightens up, waving the kids back. “Go on! All fingers and toes out of No Man’s Zone. Shoo shoo! Take cover!” Grinning like a fool she waits until the kids are a fair distance, even giving a little wave to encourage some kids to really get in the mood and duck behind coolers and beach chairs.

“FIRE IN THE HOLE!” Devi’s husky voice calls out - more excited than some of the children, perhaps. A flick of a zippo has the long wick burning. P-sssssssssssss….. And there goes Devi, theatrically jumping over a cooler and taking shelter with the children.

Lili and Ricky are not stupid, and they know when they’re being distracted from a dead body. However, there are explosions to be had and they’re happy to let themselves be distracted.

“Careful with your fingers,” Lili whispers to Ricky as he sets the firecracker down as instructed, and then they’re scrambling back to take cover behind a pile of sand that used to be a sandcastle, excitedly peeking over the top.

Devon gets a knee under him, but seems unwilling to struggle for much more as hands find him to keep him in place. Maybe it has something to do with Elisabeth’s calming tones, also, that he ceases movement right then. His eyes squint with the effort to keep them open as he looks on while Joe chatters away, trying to find some semblance of understanding for himself. Confusion fills the look that he casts around from Joe and Liz and Richard to the onlookers nearby.

Many of the beachgoers, those who were made aware of the happenings near the water but chose to stay back, follow Remi and Silvia’s lead. It’s probably a good time to be headed home. The rest of the twenty-somethings become a collective, huddling together and speaking quietly amongst themselves. Many of them grew up during the war and are still haunted by the things they’ve seen. They find comfort in each other and make a slow path away from the party.

Parents collect children, picking from the gaggle of excited faces that surround Devi and join her in harmless explosive games. Many seem grateful for the distraction she’s created, but some are far too distracted to even offer a word of thanks. At least no one outwardly complains about the biker’s choice of entertainment.

Joe’s hands find no obvious injuries and don’t even produce flinching that would imply anything internally damaged. There’s only the visible scrapes and discolorations that could have been picked up from anywhere.

“I don’t know.”

There’s a tension in Devon’s voice that’s rarely heard. He’s afraid, in spite of efforts to keep him calm, it bubbles in and around the confusion. His feet dig into the sand again even as Richard commands he stay down. His attention is wrangled as Emily speaks, and even though he can’t understand how she’s here, too — wherever here is — he stares up at her and keeps a firm grip on her hand.

It's how tightly he holds onto her hand, how he looks back at her with recognition despite his confusion, that Emily starts to believe the impossible. In a blink, she's gone from arm's-length to something else entirely. "Dev?" she whispers incredulously. She can feel him— he's real. "You're here? It's really you?"

Her voice cracks as she lets out an amazed laugh, falling forward onto her knees and wrapping both arms around Devon in an absolutely crushing embrace. She's going to wake up from this dream in a moment, she's sure, but she'll hold onto him as tightly as she can until that point. Everything else is ignored, from the crackle of miniature explosives to the very valid concern that he might have unseen injuries she'd be upsetting.

"Oh my god," Emily murmurs into his shoulder, burrowing her face against the side of his neck regardless of the stink of the cold water he'd washed up in.

Aurora giggles, her arm around Magnes's neck trustingly. Her hazel eyes follow her siblings over to where Devi is, a faint furrow in her forehead perhaps giving away that she feels worry about what's going on over there though it's not exactly clear why she's worried. She watches as everyone comes back up the sand, their cheeriness muted now with concern and worry. Except the lady who always talks in circles. Aurora saw her before, but nothing she says makes sense. The little girl has no interest in getting down from Magnes's arms just now. She'll stay where Unca Magbutt can keep her safe, thankyouverymuch.

Seeing him wake and look so confused, Elisabeth steps back just a bit further. She doesn't know what his mental state might be, but Emily and Joe are more familiar to Devon than she herself is after all these years. She retreats to where Richard stands, agitation clear only in the faint hum he well knows. "Go to him," she murmurs. "He's an adult… but he needs his adults. And that's you and Dad." It hurts her heart that right now, she might be more of a confusion and a problem for the boy that she loves like one of her own kids than a help. "I've got the other three. You go with him."

"Yeah, Elmhurst. They'll be ready." Delilah reiterates for Richard, watching Emily as she begins to bury herself against the young man. She knows what the flood of relief looks like even without confirming. "I'm going to go help her not explode our children." The redhead rests an arm at Richard's elbow as she looks between him and Devi, distracting the kids.

"It'll be alright. He'll be taken care of." She offers her reassurances with a soft voice and a smile, her other hand gathering up skirt hem from her feet. "I don't know what's all going on but he's got everyone lookin' out for him." With this, she sets off towards the sound of firecrackers.

“Mhm. Elmhurst. I’ll be there too. Over.” The phone’s hung up, and Richard glances over to make sure the children are alright— there’s two, there’s a third with Magnes— before the words from Elisabeth get his attention. He gives her a hesitant look, and then nods once, a hand lifting to slide to her shoulder before slipping right off.

He steps along over on the sand, easing down to a knee beside Devon - and his barnacle, Emily - and he says in soft but firm tones, “Stay down, kiddo. We’ve got medics on the way, and I’ve already let Lancaster know, so they’ll be there to meet you too.” Or someone from Wolfhound, anyway.
Joe is not about to let Mister Might Have Internal Injuries get up and run around. He'll be as gentle as he can about it, but he is not letting Devon get up up. As other people move in, Emily included he backs away just a couple of steps. Well knee steps, because he's not standing he's kneeling, but he gives others a bit of space. He does point to his eyes and then to Devon's eyes. "No moving till the doctors say you're okay. I'm watching you. And I can totally take you. In this state." Joe flashes a big grin in Devon's direction, but otherwise turns his head to look around himself again. "Hi again Mister Shades. And Miss Liz. Fun party huh? There's still hot dogs if your kids are hungry. Might be a bit singed now. But shouldn't be too bad. Little carbon never hurt anyone right?" There's a wink from him, though he jerks when he hears the fire cracker go off, peering in the direction of giggling children with a smile on his face. “Kids and explosions.”

Bang! Pffffff… The firecracker sends sand up in a small bloom, the wet granules raining down around the freshly made little crevice in the sand. Devi pops up, both arms held high so that her leather jacket and tattered tee underneath ride up and reveal a sliver of flesh and, of course, more tattoos. “Huzzah!” She beams proudly and looks to her tiny partners in crime for approval.

So, so you think you can tell

Heaven from hell

Marie does what she can to make sure the families that are leaving have a couple of plates with leftovers in hand. Some of the adults have stayed behind to help her while their children laugh and exclaim excitement over Devi’s display. They eagerly chatter about the loudness and the flashes that caused the sand to spray everywhere, and of course they beg the biker for more pyrotechnics.

Blue skies from pain

Can you tell a green field

From a cold steel rail?

“It’s me.” Devon’s voice trembles with his answer. “It’s me.” He drags an arm up to wrap it tightly around Emily’s shoulders. His head tips to press against hers, but his eyes slant to look at Richard when the older man moves into his field of view. There’s some relief that things are under control, but there’s still fear in his expression when he looks up at his uncle.

A smile from a veil?

Do you think you can tell?

A lone siren wails in the distance, giving the gulls present some competition for best shrieking cry. The pilfered bag of buns has again found its way onto the beach. A trio of the gray and white birds take turns picking and pecking, collecting bready goodness from within the plastic and harassing one another with each piece.

Did they get you to trade?

Your heroes for ghosts?

Some of the older kids who’d been tossing a football earlier have remained behind. They emerge from the huddle around the food tables to approach the driftwood at a half run. Their hands hold mugs that steam with the promise of a pleasantly drink, which they hand out to those who control the scene. The orange liquid may look questionable, but everyone swears by hot Tang. There’s even some being passed around for Delilah, Walter and Devi, and anyone else who’d want some.

Hot ashes for trees?

Hot air for a cool breeze?

Comfort for change?

The siren draws closer to the beach. The keening wail echoes off nearby buildings to spill into open spaces, at times giving the illusion that more than one is running to the site. However, Liz can easily track its direction and soon others without her gifts for sound can more accurately guess at which streets the crew is taking to get to the beach.

Did you exchange

A walk on part in the war

For a lead role in a cage?

When Joe catches his attention, there’s an instant where something akin to humor flickers amidst the fear on Devon’s face. Maybe it’s the younger man’s natural tendency for calm in a stressful situation that brings it out. His eyes find Liz again, standing not too far away. She knows that worried look coupled with a struggle to stay awake, even in a face that’s older than what she’d remember. His feet slip in the sand as muscles give up again, causing him to sag against Emily.

Louder now, the siren cuts just as the sound becomes loud enough to hurt sensitive ears. The ambulance stops at the top of the boardwalk and within seconds medics are climbing out of the rig to gather equipment and make their way toward the water’s edge. They know their job well, and take no time in collecting Devon, gathering information from the witnesses, and promising great care and visitation with the lost and found man soon.

How I wish, how I wish you were here

We’re just two lost souls

Swimming in a fish bowl

Year after year

Running over the same old ground

And how we found

The same old fears

Wish you were here

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