Broken Wings


devon4_icon.gif huruma_icon.gif

Scene Title Broken Wings
Synopsis With Huruma's help, Devon begins learning to fly again.
Date March 10 through August 29, 2020

Around the Safe Zone

The Bastion - Training Hall

March 10, 2020

6:47 am

A huffed breath sounds loud in the empty training hall, without other bodies presently training to help absorb and cover the tired sound. It’s followed soon after by the rattle of metal on metal. The mirror that lines a long wall reflects Devon Clendaniel with his arms folded against a rack of free weights, his torso bent and head hanging between his shoulders. The past twelve months did him fewer than no favors by not only fracturing his life but also sapping strength and stamina.

It’s just one of many things about him that he knows, understands, desperately needs repair — one of the few he really has any control over.

With his relationship with the Hounds in uncertain waters, Dev has erred on the side of unusual hours. Swing shifts, assignments he can do solo. Working out in the hours people are typically waking up or just beginning to start their day. The young man blows out a second breath and steps back from the rack. He bends at the knees, grips the bar at his feet. Fingers flex and adjust until he’s found a comfortable grip, and then he stands again, lifting the weighted bar.

She's always a shadow around the place; today even moreso. Huruma has been skulking back and forth from Bastion to elsewhere, primarily getting situated and making sure that business is taken care of. Despite her injuries, she pushes. Not too hard, lest Megan Young's sixth sense go off.

That Devon is here at all is… a little surprising to her; she is only able to sense him when she gets close, her psychic energy not having nearly recuperated to see otherwise. Maybe it shouldn't be so surprising. It's Devon.

Just Devon.

"Starting off heavy, are we…?" Huruma sounds tired, but the voice at the door is unmistakably her; she looks like she could use three more days of sleep, eyes somewhat muddied by healing hemorrhaging in the whites. The bouts of sorrow do not help. But this? This she can do, and this can take her mind off of other matters, at least somewhat. "Good morning, zanak'i."

Uneasiness alights on him for an instant, like the touch and go of a bee in search of pollen, even though Devon recognizes the voice at the first note. His eyes go to the mirror to find Huruma watching from behind his own. For a moment he watches her, reflecting on their service together, wondering how far that bridge stretches. Not that he's afraid she'll lash out and snap him in two — he's reasonably confident there'd be a much better reason than simply existing if she did.

But he's unsure of Huruma’s opinion of his existence.

“I've got to start somewhere.” Although he's stood long enough without lifting the weights, his grip is beginning to slip. He bends at the knees, sinking so that the weights drop onto the floor from a mere inch or two instead of a couple of feet. He sighs at the noise it makes, drops himself the remaining distance so he's sitting with arms draped over his knees, lifts a look to Huruma.

“Morning. What… what's that mean?”

"Don't- -" Huruma murmurs, her mild manner giving him enough to know that it wasn't bad. She stays there against the doorframe, arms linked in front of her, eyes on him. "Don't worry about it."

"I can't say what your routine was like… but starting small won't hurt." Unlike straining himself by jumping right back in. Huruma finally does move inside the room, leaning one elbow atop a piece of equipment. Nearer now, her crippled senses are able to better pick out his doubt and effort, the nervousness of - - here.

The answer prickles in a way he can't quite explain. While it doesn't seem to be an insult, Devon looks aside with his discomfort.

“I'm not used to…” His hands spread, but his arms stay resting on his knees when he indicates himself, his current state. After a beat, he drops his hands to the floor and gets his feet under him to stand. “Sorry. I'll… I just need a minute to put the weights up and I'll be out of your way.”

"I'm not here for these." Huruma waves dismissively, shaking her head just once and pointing right at Devon's chest. "I suppose- - I'm here for you." As if it were simply an accident. It may well have been, for all he knows. Her voice is low, if not small, eyes still quick to look him over. Gauging, notetaking, waiting.

It should only take a minute to put the equipment away, but it takes an eternity. Devon goes from haste to delay as he's pointed at, in correlation to Huruma’s explanation. He straightens from the task, turns from the reflections in the mirror to face Huruma. Questions and possible conversations race through his head, pulling his expression into one of discomfited confusion. He was the one abandoned, the one begrudgingly brought back, so,


Confusion is met with a steady gaze, just a brushing of reassurance and a hand lifted for a gesture of the same. You're alright, Devon. Huruma's brow deepens some, and her posture shifts.

"Because I want to hear your story."

The Bastion - Devon Clendaniel's Quarters

May 17, 2020

3:12 pm

Things had been going well.

Devon has been going to appointments as prescribed by the doctors at Elmhurst Hospital, kept to a reasonably regular schedule. Slowly, and with Huruma’s easy acceptance of his existence, he seemed to be coming around and out of his shell.

Except today didn't dawn as brightly.

He'd skipped breakfast, missed an early morning workout. The security cameras caught him leaving late in the morning — likely headed to the hospital — and last saw him returning to his quarters near midday.

Devon is a creature of habit, when it comes to the rituals of a morning; when he skips on things typical to his routine, as with the other Hounds, Huruma notices. Her ability notices. The young man's return to the Bastion is studied from the upstairs office, tasking on the laptop in repose when she angles her attention from it for a short time.

Observing from afar ends; Huruma returns her eyes to the computer only to bring up a camera feed. She felt him come in, and she tracks his return to his room in the last seconds of his journey.

There's no bother closing the laptop when she slides to her feet and glides out of the office.

"Devon." comes the velvety voice behind the closed door to his quarters. Huruma's hand is lightly resting on the doorknob.

No answer comes from the other side, and when Huruma opens the door she finds Dev’s quarters darkened behind closed blinds. The light that spills from the hallway illuminates new clutter on top of old, probably from attempts at cleaning and patching the holes in his memory.

Devon sits on the floor opposite his desk, where the worst of the clutter is collected. His head hangs between his shoulders, beneath arms that are draped over his knees.

Huruma is a pitch black titan in the light of the doorway; once she silently closes the door behind her, there is a darkness to be adjusted to, the flickering of sun coming through the tiniest gaps in the blinds. Her shape is still an outline in the dim, and it is when she moves closer that lines of light betray an expression of caution and concern. Care.

Pale eyes blink in the dark across from him, the shine falling over ivory-on-white as Huruma crosses her ankles and sets herself down onto the floor. Hands rest at either knee, fingers flexing. Open, close, open, close, curl into loose fists.

There is a bleakness around Devon, thicker and heavier than a down-filled mattress. He barely stirs when Huruma seats himself across from him. Steady breathing causes his shoulders to shift subtly, back and sides to expand and contract. He's silent otherwise.

A long moment passes before he acknowledges the added presence in his room. Dev raises a defeated look, stares through the dim to Huruma.

More waiting, while Devon seemingly decides whether or not to acknowledge her. The face of someone long-suffering eventually levels to her; in return, Huruma gives it another long pause, allowing a purposeful silence hang between them before she speaks. Need not go above a murmuring.

"What is it?"

Dev shakes his head, and lets it hang again. His throat clenches, brows and jaw draw tight. “I can't,” he breathes. Something near to panic lances through the bleakness. “I can't get it. It's a whole year.” His hands cover the back of his head as he speaks, fingers curling into the collar of his shirt. “It should've been me. Not him.”

"And it was." Huruma's breathing is low and steady, a passive attempt at helping him to calm on his own. "Him."

"You." Here she wets her lips, thoughts hanging on her tongue. "It was both of you, and neither." The terms she uses come with the tone of precaution. Eyes not leaving Devon, she poses a question.

"You've never asked what I've seen inside of you. Not explicitly. Not only your emotions, but your core below even that. Would you like to know?"

“He should've lived,” Devon protests, torn about his very existence. If he himself, the one seated across from Huruma, had been meant to be here and now then wouldn't things have happened differently?

He lifts his head just enough to drag his hands over his neck and face. For a moment temptation rests in doing more than just trying to scrub away the feelings of wrongness. It ends with his head thumping lightly into the wall and resting there. His eyes turn dully toward Huruma.

“There's nothing there. Just an empty shell of a science fair project that couldn't even get an honorable mention.”

"If you were an empty shell, you wouldn't be here, sitting on this floor with me." Huruma doesn't tell him he's wrong, outright- - only that she sees the opposite.

"I thought when we found you," She starts, brow knit and the dim light deepening her eyes. "That it would be like others. One, and two. Separate but equal." A beat, "It wasn't."

"At the core you are exactly the same." Confusion seems to slink into her words, and while he can't see her body language as clearly as he'd like, the shifting of her frame speaks of pause. "I am not a mind-reader, but I can tell enough to know that once we had one of you, that is where the split lies. Even then, it wasn't like that. You shared. You- - I do not feel that you are a copy or a mimic. You …are." Huruma is unable to tell if it makes sense to him, though she keeps a read nonetheless.

"Like a mirror. One man looks into the silver, and the same man looks back. In a more existential theory… There is no way to be certain on which side it began. For all one man knows, he is the progenitor. The other believes the same. Neither realizes that it could be both. Because they are the same."

"If I've lost you, I apologize." Huruma's rare and gentle apology comes with the warmth of reassurance through her voice and the outline of her face.

"The truth of the matter is that either one of you could have been the man looking in." In which case, and to the layman, if this Devon was… they took in the one which people might call a copy, and unerringly left their pup behind. To have his first life lived by the second.

It both makes sense and doesn’t. Devon’s face draws with the weight of the dilemma. Like looking into a mirror — or, at times, through a window — he and his twin were both and neither the same. His experiences differed from the one who’d been found on the beach, and the experiments he lived through has done more to be a wedge than a vise. Like watching parts of his life, the life he should have been living, play out on a movie screen.

It fosters a feeling of being adrift. If he is and is not Devon, if he did and did not survive Praxia, why is he here? “Why didn’t anyone come for me?” The question hasn’t ever been asked out loud. It’s been left to fester, like a deeply embedded splinter. “When you learned there was a second one, why was I left there?”

"I don't know."

It is a difficult answer to a difficult question.

"That's the truth. Between one thing and another, maybe… we thought you were lost to us. You saw the effort it took to make a move- - and that was without the forces that were sent to Detroit." Huruma murmurs, aware that it sounds like excuses one after the next. "But at the bones, I don't know. Paranoia. Distrust. Even the one who came home impressed on us the need to not." That the other was some sort of lethal liability.

But, again, excuses. Huruma hangs her head somewhat, a sigh moving out through her nose. "I don't know." She doesn't have all the answers. 'One was enough' is too unkind.

In the end, Devon had literally done it to himself. It's not likely that he'll ever know why, either. Such a revelation does little to ease the pain of it, and it only brings more questions.

The Bastion - Devon Clendaniel’s Quarters

June 16, 2020

5:42 pm

"You know, it is a lot easier to do this in real life."

Meetings with Devon have eased somewhat, as weeks go on; in time she's sure that he can find a comfortable medium with his loved ones again- - but for the time being, Huruma mediates. Even if that means a sit down and coffee turns into a frustrating session of Super Metroid.

Huruma has played games before. Badrani and Azaly and some of the other kids she's known have cajoled it out of her to sit and attempt. Usually it's easier than this. How is this so hard? It's nowhere near the technical level of the present, and yet- -

Losing to a Geiger-esque monstrosity for the umpteenth time, Huruma forces herself to drop the controller onto her lap and lean back into the couch, eyes on the ceiling rather than throwing it all into the television.

“You all wonder why I fall back on unconventional techniques in the battlefield,” Devon muses. His earlier good natured humor at Huruma’s efforts have eroded slowly with each attempt. He maintains an upbeat tone, but a subtle shift in his demeanor exists.

“Remember you need to spin jump.” It's not very helpful, he's said the same before. But he's also been stuck on the very same sub-boss fight before.

"Unconventional." Huruma repeats, giving him a crooked smile and a look out of the corner of her eye. That's one descriptor, but it's correct. She appreciates the out of the box thinking, most of the time. She leaves the game paused for the moment, frowning faintly towards the screen of bit art.

"This tells me a lot about your ability dexterity too." And of course, the unconventional ways he uses it. Maybe he gets his ideas from other mediums. Lovely. "Aie, just once more." Huruma snorts softly and picks the plastic controller back up. She starts again, muttering. "I hate phasing."

It goes better this time, and she does defeat it, just barely. "Bloody fire. Bloody bulging eye. Bite me." Huruma's words might be frustrated but her tone is victorious. Take that, you tentacled prick.

“It’s battle readiness training.” Devon’s called recreational games by that label before. It's likely a callback to his times with Endgame, when games literally were preparation for the inevitable battles. It explains a fair bit for his patience and coordination in most instances.

He settles in for Huruma’s next round with the monster, nodding encouragement. “You got this.” His optimism lacks luster, sounds vaguely distracted. He seems to be watching the gameplay, or looking just beyond the small television set, but has his head turned away from the screen. It isn't much, from the side it could easily be taken as he's watching the gameplay, but from ahead or behind it's uncertain.

“Keep going,” Devon suggests. He drags a hand over his face, pinching the bridge of his nose between his thumb and first finger. “The next bit is easy, just a jump puzzle, you'll get a weapon upgrade, missile expansion.” Likely some other things too, but his tone fades without expanding the topic.

For as irritated as she was moments before, the adrenaline of a win eases into a curious type of attention to what's happening next. It's a familiar look of calmer intent; battle readiness indeed. At least she's bonding. Or something like that.

The very same thing has her hesitating on his waning helpfulness; Huruma's fingers find the Samus sprite idling on a platform when the empath tips her eyes Devon's way. "…If you're feeling tired I can always excuse myself." A question, of a kind, halfway to searching for a reason behind the slowly shifting mood. He doesn't owe her an explanation, and she's not a telepath, just a friend with a calm concern. "I realize our chat was a bit longer than usual."

As the offer is being made, Devon shakes his head dismissively at the idea. “It’s… No, you can keep playing.” Huruma seems to be enjoying herself, it doesn’t make sense for him to stop it. He pries himself up from his seat, turns sharply around it to wander across the room. Brows furrow, eyes cast as if to watch something in the distance.

“I’m going to grab a drink.” The explanation is made as Dev pauses near the door, being stated as an afterthought. He can’t just walk out, though something instinctual is telling him to. A hand grasps the door frame as he starts to exit, knuckles going white from his grip. “I’ll grab you one too.”

Huruma watches Devon over the curve of her shoulder, eyes at his back and in his head, tracking in silence. When she speaks again, the game is paused properly and one arm is slung over the back of the couch, her body twisted to look after him.

"No need." The corner of her mouth twitches, and for a moment there's a feeling of being stalked- - Huruma's intent look making up most of it. "….Seems to me that you ought to have some water first. And then a lie down." It's not maternal, exactly- - just looking out.

Indication that he's listening comes in the form of a noticeable slowing as he passes through the doorway. Water would be the first and wiser choice, even though Devon hasn't had anything stronger than a beer since returning from California. Maybe a drink is looking to be more like a cola or the coffee that's usually available at all hours in the cafeteria.

Three steps into the hall, just far enough to be out of sight of his room, he pauses to press a hand to the wall. His eyes squeeze

shut, but it does nothing to block the intense, pulsating light. It's impossibly bright. Patterns play out in regardless of his efforts to avoid it, manifesting in blots and splotches and ghostly afterimages.

"Devon." Huruma's deep voice sounds further away than it should, tinged with


"You wouldn't be trying the photobiomodulation if you did not think it would produce results." Doctor Cong's reverberations sound through the light as it slows and pulses. It almost seems to follow the depth and cadence. "You're being unreasonable."

Depth brings the light to a standstill, afterimages vibrating softly into more diluted patterns.

"Devon," Though she has not touched him, Huruma's voice is closer now, her frame taking up a portion of the hall, one hand reluctantly between them, unsure. She doesn't impress on him any calm- - it's not something she can force in good faith. Instead, she speaks just above a murmur. "//Devon, rudi kwangu1."

Tension remains in Devon’s shoulders, and in his outstretched arm, enough that his frame trembles with strain. The other still hangs at his side, fingers curled in a white-knuckled fist. Sweat begins to prickle along the back of his neck. A shaking breath is dragged in.

“No more,”

Devon pleads, voice hoarse. His body strains against restraints, the effort slicks his brow and neck with sweat and causes him to shake with exertion. The dazzling strobe pounds against his vision in an unpredictable rhythm, probing echoes of the lights invade his hearing.

"Devon." Huruma's voice cuts against the lights in his mind's eye, an invisible hand gliding into his head and pulling the panic down gently as if it were a shroud. "Stay,"

"away, you massive idiot." The vastness of lights cuts abruptly into pitch black; the stars in his head are just that- - in his head, his eyes strained into something like the pain of pulled muscle. "You thought wrong."

The cold creeps into his skin when the door opens, frosted white ceiling blurring his vision when the black begins to fade.

Tension leaves Devon’s outstretched arm first, with his elbow bending slightly followed by his knees. He leans heavily into the wall, head coming to rest in the crook of his arm. Sounds meant to be words tumble incomprehensible on rapid, shaking breaths. It sounds like continued pleading for something to stop. Trembling hands find his face to brush away the lingering blurriness.

Huruma waits for his body to come to more of a stop before she moves in close; her exudation of serenity envelops him as if he were coming into a cool room from the heat. Hand on the wall, her other moves to rest against his hair, fingers gentle when they brush back against the temple. If he has any outbursts to make, she would be surprised to see it now.

Still at his back, Huruma stays beside him even should he crumple, hand free from the wall to steady his shoulders. Whatever she says to him next is barely a murmuration, indecipherable in its volume and tongue, though carrying the sway of someone reaching out.

Minutes pass slowly, seeming like hours within Devon’s perception of time. He shivers against the calm, trembles from the pain he can still feel in memory. It takes minutes for his breathing to begin leveling and for tension to ease. Whatever Huruma’s words mean is irrelevant. The sound and syllables might be foreign but they are also a light he follows through the darkness until the memory borne panic eases.

Eventually his body sags as the terror leaves him. The shaking of his shoulders shifts to the unevenness of someone catching their breath after a run, likewise the sound of his breathing supports that.

As Devon sags further, Huruma decides to use a bit of leverage against the wall to sink them both fully to the floor, an arm still protectively curling around Devon's shoulder, hand staying against head and breath deepening as much for him as for herself.

It's not easy coming down. She knows.

And that sometimes it is perfectly fine to sit where you once stood.

Floyd Bennet Airfield

August 2, 2020

11:38 am

When things settled in again, for better or worse, things needed doing, and Avi's only a one-man-band- - so some of it falls to Huruma, of course. Mostly the things he hates. Which could be anything on any given day, she doesn't bother keeping track.

Over the last few weeks, she's given herself one particular task; perhaps out of need for purpose, or the need to nourish something rather than watch it wither. Devon is in the passenger seat when Huruma pulls her SUV up to the airfield. Before them, the smaller aircrafts milling like as many large animals behind a fence. In the far hangar, the peeking nose of the Tlanuwa.

"I thought you could stand to get out for some sun.", she said, when she asked him to tag along. Even if he gets air on his own, there are his own thoughts to contend with. At least in the recent days, Devon has someone else to help him sort through them. Huruma's no psychiatrist, though.

"If you're good maybe we'll get ice cream." She's just Huruma.

“Change of scenery’s always welcome,” Devon says. He'd been less reluctant to go, perhaps for the different atmosphere, the company of someone who doesn't turn strange when he's around. Though he'd spent a portion of the drive just staring out the side window. It had been a year since he had seen home.

Drawn back to the present, he looks at the airfield stretching out ahead of them, then angles a look to Huruma. “Doing maintenance on the Tlanuwa today?”

"In a fashion." She knows the drive itself did him some good; it played out in his head and even now, as they slide out of the car. Huruma leans against the hood for a moment, watching the front gate. "Negotiating fuel prices. Not exciting. I think I'm here to intimidate a better deal until we, ah, get more jobs coming in."

While it's no secret that Wolfhound is undergoing changes, the degree of them is kept close to the cuff; fuel is a priority for ops, so here she is.

"And I was thinking… if you want to go on board, I do have the keys." Do jets have keys? For the doors, maybe. "No flying…yet. Reacquainting with an old friend."

Something… familiar. Something peaceful and reminiscent.

Exciting is far from the word Devon would choose for such a task. Negotiations aren't one of his stronger skills, perhaps that something he’ll be able to work on in the future. For now, he focuses on the Tlanuwa as he climbs out of his seat, arms draped over the door and the side of the SUV.

The last time he'd been on it was as a passenger during the extraction from Praxia, when there wasn't time or space to feel the moment of homecoming. Instead he'd felt the uncomfortable silence and knowing looks. There was no celebration, just an odd sort of quasi-regret.

“I've always wanted to learn to fly it,” Dev says. He steps aside to close the door, and the more recent experiences regarding the jet with it. “Sometimes I wonder if I'd be suited for recon, strategy.” He looks across the hood to Huruma. “Calling the shots and leading operations sometimes.”

"I've learned a little… but I'm no Avi. Or Hana, or Asi." Skilled beyond measure, though two had a leg up. Huruma gestures small for him to follow when she starts walking.

"Discipline and patience. Until then…" Up ahead the gate is manned only by cursory security; there are enough bodies behind the fence to back them up. "Your ethic will matter." Does matter. Huruma puts her hands into the pockets of her open jacket, eyes trailing from fence to Devon and back again.

"I think… you could make a fine reconnaissance commander, with time."

Brows knit in a look of consideration that sets him back to his early days with Wolfhound. Devon tilts his head to cast a sidelong look at Huruma, following her after she gets several steps ahead of him.

Hands tuck into jacket pockets when he catches up. Discipline, patience. Those run counter to his guerrilla tactics, the same recklessness that put him into the strained mess he's in now. Ethics, war has skewed the concept somewhat, forced it to evolve; but he stands firm on the ideals that brought him to Hana all those years ago.

“You think so,” he says. More a statement seeking confirmation than outright asking. Devon looks ahead, regarding the security at the gate. “You think the rest of the team’ll agree?” Will they even accept it?

"You know what you want, when you need it. You only… need to relearn how to get there." Trepidation is answered with education. "You have your own rules, and I have never known you to break them- - even in the heat of your mistakes."

At the gate, Huruma shows a badge, contents unseen but clearly approved, as she leads Devon inside the fence when the door unlocks for them.

"You and I have something in common- - same as many of your peers. We had to grow up quickly, fitfully, into fights for our lives." When the door locks again, Huruma is slow to walk. "We need to find our strengths after it ends."

It's not something he can argue with. Nearly everyone Devon met during or just before the war had a story similar to his — if not becoming involved in pushing back against the oppressive system as a kid, then sometime in their adulthood. It changes a person, not only emotionally but mentally. The rules are different and anyone who can't learn to manipulate and work within them tends to find themselves a victim and pawn of the system.

“What are your strengths?” It's uncommon for Devon to pry, but the question is natural enough. It shows he's listening, searching for stability along the branch of common ground between them. “Now that the war’s over, that we’re… not necessarily fighting for our lives the same way.” His may not be like hers, but understanding could bridge that gap.

"The best way to figure out our own strengths is to ask someone else." Huruma teases, but her words are true. "For most people."

"By and large I'd been alone until the Ferry…even then, it was me showing up and never leaving." A stray if there ever was one. She leads on, careful not to outpace. They can take their time. "I never had to not just survive. So now… I suppose I am still figuring out what it means to me. I know I am smart and tenacious- - so maybe that is why I've somehow landed in some kind of authority role. I would have laughed at myself, years ago."

“Those’re good qualities for anyone to have.” Devon turns far enough to look back. It's casual, but Huruma will probably still catch the quick accounting of the guards at the gate and a search for phantoms that only exist in memory.

“I guess… I tried to ignore what was happening until I got involved the hard way.” By being a prisoner of the Dome. He looks at the commander as he turns forward again. “And until I crossed paths with Endgame, I was lost.” Unlike and yet similar to how he'd come to be part of Wolfhound. Word of mouth more than rumors led him to the team that's been like a second family.

“I don't know what any of it says about me,” Dev continues. “Or what it means. I'm just… I don't really know who I am anymore.”

She lets him talk. Lets him bring back memories from before he ever had to decide what he really stood for. Was willing to put his life on the line for.

"You're Devon Clendaniel." Huruma supplants any doubts he may have about where she stands- - in a most obvious way. "You are perceptive. You are resolute. You are diligent. You are generous." When she looks at him next it is with a lift of her chin. "You are a good man."

Phoenix Heights - Uncle Frank’s Hometown Dogs//

August 29, 2020//

1:49 pm

“Why'd you join Wolfhound?”

Little by little, the wall Devon had built up has begun to wear down with the unexpected companionship Huruma has been fostering. It's no secret that, before the split, he'd been a literal pup nipping at the heels of the more experienced soldiers, prone to do his own thing — generally with good results. But he'd often steered clear of digging too deeply into the old timers lives. It's not so, now.

One thing the friendship has wrought, along with the young man slowly opening up —slowly returning to the him he'd been before February and before the split a year ago — was a humble desire to know who his teammates really are.

He stands just to the side of the front of the hotdog vendor’s cart — a suggestion from many in the area — so he can layer ketchup and mustard and relish on the footling he's purchased for lunch. “Weren't you Ferry before? Like Robyn and… a lot of others?”

Devon isn't the first pup, probably not the last. Huruma took her efforts to heart even more in the last several days, and moving forward she'll likely put in the same care. A young man with few outlets and too many thoughts can be ripe for disaster. Perhaps it's the curse of an empath to be able to help. Perhaps that is why for so many years, she never helped.

"I was. Not always." Huruma has passed on the cart food, though she did buy a drink for the sake of business. She hasn't opened it yet. Her features are relaxed, eyes across the road on a passerby. "I can say 'the thrill of the hunt' and you would absolutely believe me." So let's go with that, in other words. "And people needed catching." The truth is a mixed bag of the hunt and a desire to be judgment day on behalf of the wronged.

The thrill of the hunt is one thing all the Hounds seem to have in common, Devon included. So even when Huruma uses it, and even though it isn't a more philosophical answer, he accepts it and quashes any desire to push for a deeper reason. For now. Chances are good he'll revisit it, like peeling the skin off an orange to get to the meat. He collects his lunch and steps away from the cart.

As he steps up beside Huruma, he follows her gaze to the passers by across the street. For a moment he's quiet, introspective. He’d grown up on these streets, walked and busses all over the city. When it passes he looks up at Huruma.

“Tell me about… your family?”

"Very broad strokes, you're going for." Huruma sounds amused, her response just above a purr. Now she opens the glass bottle in her hand, the cap giving a distinct *pop* when she looks up to Devon again.

She hasn't missed the flowering sense of self in him, of course; he's also been a little more curious, week by week, and not only with her. With himself. And the others. Less so. Still, her patience is extended here, and there is only another moment spent in pause before she starts strolling along.

"Which part?" becomes the question, hesitant as someone like her can be. "My only family is here, and in Madagascar."

“Yes,” is Devon’s quick answer. “Madagascar more, but only as much as you want to share.” He wants to know about her relationships with the other Hounds, too, since his footing with them is less stable. But Huruma, who she is and where she's from, is a mystery that neither of his selves ever uncovered.

His quickness earns him a small, puffed laugh, though it doesn't quite touch Huruma's eyes in the small smile that follows it.

"My bibi, my children, and my grandchildren all live there." She starts quite simply, and now her eyes catch up with her more thoughtful expression. "I go, for periods. Spent nearly a year last time." Huruma doesn't elaborate past this, though from the sound of it, it was a longer span of time than ones that came before it.

"Two children- - twins- - and each one child to them. It is not as numerous as it sounds. Juwariya and her wife adopted Azaly, Dajan has Badrani." A half-glance goes to Devon last, a quick mulling over something before she continues, tentative. "He is only a few years behind Emily." Mentioning her is few and far between, and when she does- - she always wants to listen closely.

Emily has been a sensitive subject every time it’s been brought up, regardless of who is the one to mention her. It’s a point of guilt and longing, pain and jealousy, strong emotions that Devon has barely more than illusion of control over. Even Huruma’s mentioning now brings his own questions to heel in order to let self-loathing reflection have the rein.

He should have been there for her. Somehow he should have been able to stop what had happened.

The remains of his hotdog is tossed into a bin in passing. “I miss her.” A year had come and gone since the last time he’d spent time with Emily. In the months following it had been through an unpredictable connection of his other self’s eyes. “She was so worried when I left for Sunstone, and angry. And now…” Fingers rake through his hair, then curl against the back of his neck. He both had and hadn’t had the chance to reconcile, to grow with her, and now she was further beyond reach than he could imagine. “I miss her so much.”

Huruma measures each toss and turn with the past ones, weighing and finding them wanting, as before. He could use some verbalizing of his thoughts. Take them with him.

"I miss her too." Not in the same ways- - it's a different kind of longing, motes of guilt. Huruma's arm extends behind Devon to give him a brief embrace, casual in the way of comrades. She takes small steps. "She's not… gone… just." The dark woman rankles at the edge of lip and nose, inwardly fuming for as long as she takes to say it. "Trapped. We'll get her back."

It sounds like a promise. Sounds like a promise she's made to another, too. And herself. Repeated.

"I've been teaching her, you know." Huruma's expression eases neutral, her hands sliding into jacket pockets. "Perhaps not good enough. She had fear for her potential as a weapon. So I was showing her how to be a conductor. I can't help but wonder if the former would have stopped it."

A month ago, Devon would have jerked away from such a token of camaraderie. Even a week ago he might have stiffened at the unexpected gesture. Today, neither happen. Instead he acknowledges the embrace in likeness.

“Without knowing how it happened.” He worries it was some oversight of his own doing, but the last text messages he had hinted at nothing unusual, only what seemed to be infrequent spells of silence.

“You're a good instructor for her,” Devon shifts gears as he looks at Huruma. “I hope you keep working with her when… when we bring her back.”

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