Eating Crow


devon2_icon.gif elisabeth_icon.gif graeme2_icon.gif

Scene Title Eating Crow
Synopsis When tempers are allowed to cool, the source of some angst is revealed and finally released.
Date June 25, 2011

Skinny Brickfront : Endgame Safehouse

The safehouse is missing its teenager, and likely the disagreement that spurred the departure has quietly filtered its way through the ears of the other inhabitants. Even if it didn't, Devon's presence hadn't returned before curfew set in. Morning's come and he's still missing from the house. He hadn't gone far before the need to be scarce arose. Martial law poses problems for kids who decide to run away from home and curfew is such a killjoy.

Taking to a neighboring rooftop, Devon spent the night alone and outside. Far safer to be above eye level when you're out when you shouldn't be. Hunkered down between a utility box and the doorway to the stairwell, Devon's waited out curfew. Thoughts of returning war with thoughts of continuing his departure once the sky began turning brighter. But for the moment, he sits with eyes turned toward the direction of the safehouse.

There are days when Elisabeth considers taking up smoking. It's not a vice that, to her memory, she has ever indulged, but…. there are occasions when she envies the calm that smokers seem to find in their cigarettes. Not to mention there's a certain nostalgia in the acrid scent of them. But she hasn't picked it up any other time in her life, and she's not about to start at this late date. She stands on the rooftop of the safehouse, though, almost wishing someone in the house did smoke so that they could stand up here and she could benefit without taking it up. No one does. And she stands at the edge of the rooftop, blue eyes scanning the entire area as she watches for the return of a certain teenager. Were it anyone else in the safehouse taking off, she'd likely ignore the matter, but Devon… is a kid. No matter what he's lived, he's still a kid in so many ways. And damned if he's going to pull this shit while he's under her eye.

To anyone looking on, Elisabeth looks worried. And upset. And perhaps a little bit angry too. She's been pacing the roof for a good half an hour, making circuits, clearly watching for someone. Not hard to guess who.

Hands lift slightly to rub with futility at the sleepiness and residual anger of the night before while Devon lets out a slow breath. His gaze turns more skyward, eyes lifting to the sliver of heavens visible from where he's wedged himself. The debate is drawn out, internal and weighty on both sides. Running wasn't the most mature thing he could have done, leaving adds unnecessary risk. But it got the boy on his own, however poorly planned that might be. His eyes slant toward the safehouse again and with a sigh he stands and treads toward the fire escape that had led him up to begin with..

It's the movement on the far rooftop that captures the blonde's attention. And for a long moment Elisabeth is tense. Until she recognizes the lanky form, and then relief sets in. She sends her voice toward him on a very controlled sound wave so that it murmurs familiarly in his ear, "I'll meet you up here." It's a tone that brooks zero argument from the boy.

It's one of the few times that gives Devon pause, hearing a disembodied voice. He stops dead in his tracks, turning his head slowly to look over his shoulder as though expecting Elisabeth to magically appear behind him, and a moment passes where he wonders if it was all in his head. Not finding the audiokinetic behind him, he looks toward the safehouse rooftop. Just making her out against the brightening sky, the teen gives a small shake of his head, then descends from one roof to climb to another.

Passing through the house rankled Devon's pride, but he beelined through the common areas and climbed the steps to the rooftop. There's no announcement when he breaks into the open air again, save for the closing of the door behind him. With hands thrusting into his pockets, the boy takes a few steps from the door and toward Liz, eyes flicking between her and one of the other roofs.

Elisabeth is still waiting for him, sitting on one of the camp chairs that has taken up residence near the cisterns. When he steps out, she's watching the door. "Morning," she offers calmly. "C'mon, have a seat." She's feeling her way here, but in some ways the fact that she offered him a family means that this is her responsibility to do. "I think I deserve the rundown." Clearly news of the argument has reached her. But she doesn't seem angry so much as concerned.

"Morning," Devon returns in voice rough from a night outdoors and lack of sleep. He steps closer, the hesitant steps of a teenager facing something he's not sure he'd want to. As his hands pull free of his pockets, he lowers himself to sit not on the remaining chair but beside her feet instead. "Just… Graeme pushing and… he got pissy over some shirt he was wearing. We… it…" His head gives a small shake, and shoulders draw out a shrug. "He was being stupid and childish."

When he takes that position, Elisabeth's hand falls gently to his hair where she strokes her fingers through it. Her lips purse thoughtfully. "Sounds like maybe both of you were having that problem to me." Getting pushy rarely necessitates having a bowl of soup thrown. "How much have you slept the past couple of days?" she asks gently. Graeme himself will be getting the rougher version of this chat — he's an adult where Devon is still a child.

Legs bend at the knees, drawing chestward, and Devon's arms drape over them at the elbow. There's not quite a sulk at her assessment, while he'll secretly agree that his actions were impulsive and adolescent, he's not planning to outright admit to his own childish behavior. "Enough to function," he decides, unsure himself of how much sleep he'd gotten. "Enough that I'm not foggy or slow."

"Just because you're not foggy or slow doesn't mean that you're getting enough sleep — it means you're staving off deprivation but it tends to impact mood." Elisabeth would know. "I'm not going to step into the middle of the fight and demand you apologize, but I am going tell you this much… " Her tone remains gentle. "That man cares about you even more than I do. We're all under a lot of stress, and when we are… that's when fights break out and harsh words are spoken. I refuse to allow this family to be torn apart like that. So… think about what happened, and if you can honestly tell yourself that you had no part in it, that it was entirely him being unreasonable, that's between you two. The hardest thing any of us has to do is own up to our own pissiness." She smiles a bit. "I have to do it on occasion myself, and it's sort of like eating crow."

"He doesn't care," Devon refutes quietly. His shoulders give a small shrug. "If he cared he wouldn't insist on things that aren't there, he wouldn't push and… he cares about some stupid shirt his mom gave him and how much more worth it has than some stray freeloading off the hard work of everyone else. Yeah, I shouldn't have thrown my bowl at him." Or what little leftovers there were in the pot. "I should have just left and… and not gotten into the argument. It's all my fault."

"Oh, hang on there… I didn't say that," Elisabeth objects mildly, her fingers still combing through his hair. "Graeme's going to get an earful of his own on this. He's fuckin' well old enough to control his own issues and not pick fights with teenagers." Her tone is Not Happy <tm>. "That said, no… you probably shouldn't have thrown the bowl."

She leans forward now, and Elisabeth brings his chin up with her free hand so that he has to look in her face. "No matter what nastiness was said between the two of you, he does care. And I care. And Jaiden cares. If we didn't care, Devon, you wouldn't be here," she corrects gently. "You're not freeloading here — and if he said that, I want to know about it right now." Her tone is firm, and there's a flash of anger visible. She will slap Graeme into next week if he said that.

Devon's head comes up and for a moment, he meets her gaze. There's hurt in his expression, related to the topic, the self loathing words. But just for a second before he drops his gaze. "He didn't say that." Would be easier to swallow if Graeme had said anything near to that instead of throwing tangible memory in his face. The boy's brows draw together and he shakes his head slightly. "Wasn't anything like that."

Those crystal blue eyes ease as she studies his face and she scoots out of her chair, settling in next to him to hug Devon tightly to her. "Kiddo," Elisabeth whispers softly into his hair, "None of this is your doing. I can't make you believe it, you have get there on your own. But I will keep on telling you until Hell freezes over — you didn't do this. You have to put the blame where it belongs. On that son of a bitch who did do it. If we don't find a way to get you through this, Dev, it's going to destroy you. Believe me, I know… I've watched it happen. I've lived it." She rests her head on top of his and says softly, "There was a safehouse out on Beach Street, and I tried… I tried so damn hard not to tell them. But I did. And a bunch of people the Ferry was protecting died there. To this day, I still keep my distance because I'm afraid of compromising them… but at the bottom of it all, it wasn't my fault and I know that. I had to come to terms with the results of it, but the blame sits squarely on them."

His head shakes, just a fraction of movement as a last ditch effort to argue against where blame of any sort should land. Devon clenches his jaw closed, eyes following to force back the emotion, the hurt, or at least gain some control over it before it all spills out. "I just wish I could do things over again," he explains, voice catching, cracking in its tightness. "So that… things would have turned out differently. So that… I— 've thought about turning myself in for… So Melissa'd be cleared."

Oh Devon. Elisabeth holds the boy tightly and she says, "Devon, listen to me. Melissa might be getting blamed for something, but that is not why the baby was targeted." Her tone is urgent, laced with insistance both heartfelt and with her power just to make him listen. She can't convince him if he won't be convinced, but she sure as heck will try. "As soon as Danko fucking ID'd her, that was it. It was over. He reported back to Heller, and Heller already had her. He'd already been threatening her. This is not your doing." Oh God, the kid is holding so much pain. "There is nothing you could have done differently — Melissa would have had to recognize the danger, and frankly, Dev… I don't think any of us realized it. Not that he'd take it out on an infant, babe."

"Could've…" Devon's words cut off as he swallows against a lump in his throat, blinking back tears threatening to fill his vision. He tries again to find some refute, some reasoning, words half forming and being uttered as a sometimes stuttered sound or tight exhale. He half lifts a hand then drops it again, a slump rolls over his posture in physical evidence of a fight given up. His head bows slightly, lines running deep creases across his brow. He sucks in a deep breath, but short of holding it, the exhale that follows is slow, as though forced through a narrow opening.

Finally. Finally, he is accepting it. Elisabeth can feel it in the way he slumps, and she whispers to him. "This is not your fault. There is nothing you could have done to change this outcome," she reassures him softly. And maybe, just maybe, if he can finally let go and just cry… maybe he'll start to heal. "Don't keep carrying this, Devon. You don't have to keep punishing yourself."

A hand comes up, and Devon presses the vee between his thumb and forefinger against his eyes. Less than a second later it's joined by the other, face hidden against his palms just as a sob takes hold in a choking grasp. He'd cried once, the night he'd learned of the incident, and since bottled it up inside. It was different then, painful as an unexpected slap is painful. The tones, the language of his body trying to fold in on itself speaks of the pain of loss. The knife twisting physical hurt that accompanies emotional battery. His knees pull in tighter, hands giving way to arms as shoulders pull and shake with another racking sob.

The woman holding him literally enfolds the teen entirely into her embrace, wrapping her body around his and rocking him gently. Elisabeth doesn't tell him to shush, instead she simply croons gently into his hair, stroking his back and letting him cry. He needs it. She couldn't get any closer to the boy without practically pulling him inside her. And Elisabeth feels so damn helpless.

Minutes might seem like hours or pass unnoticed, but the passage of time is marked as violent and agonized mourning gives way to the duller ache of whimpering. In stages, some points he's almost calm again before another cry works itself free. At another point he finds her wrist, grip unsure but clinging like one might to a lifeline. But the explosion of emotions works itself down, wending to a calm broken by an occasional sniffle or whimper.

Elisabeth simply continues to rock him, giving him the only comfort she knows. She has both her arms wrapped around his shoulders and is cradling him in the curve of her body as they sit on the rooftop. Her blonde hair is mixed with his shorter strands as she rests her head atop his. When the silence finally comes, she continues to rock him much as she would a younger child.

Blinking against the tears, Devon's head comes up a fraction, no longer hidden in the fold of his arm. Eyes rimmed red stare through the sometimes haze as he stares down at his feet. Tension eases itself from his form as he's rocked, the motion on top of the emotional release draining his energy and making it difficult to remain balled up. "I'm sorry," he whispers, watching twin tears fall one after the other onto his knees.

"Don't be," Elisabeth murmurs, still holding him. "Do you think I haven't shed my share of tears lately?" Her smile holds sadness. "Feels sometimes like that's all I've done. For my friends, for what I've done and not done, for what my son is choosing to do, for the mistakes I make." She kisses the top of his head. "None of us are perfect, Devon."

Even with hearing that Devon'd returned, it's taken Graeme a while go anywhere the teen might be, and it's mainly something he's doing because he wants to forage for food. He's dressed not to go anywhere, but more lazily, in the same worn grey Les Miserable shirt that now has no hint of soup ever being thrown on it, worn black jeans, earphones firmly in his ears as he makes his way out onto the roof, cup of coffee in hand. Not down in the kitchen or common room, so up was the other choice. There's a pause when he sees Liz and Devon, though, and he looks at Devon. "I shouldn't've, 'kay?" The soft drawl is as much as ever amounts to an apology. "I'm sorry." And then he backs off a bit, arms wrapping around his chest as if maybe he'd come up here for some reason other than to apologise.

Elisabeth looks up, and her blue eyes flash dangerously. It's perhaps the first time Graeme's ever seen that look, directed fully at him. It's the look she levels on soldiers when they have Fucked Up. Though she says nothing verbally, her expression says it all — there will be Words when Devon can't hear them. If there is one thing she will absolutely not tolerate, it is infighting — especially not between an adult and a child. The fact that the boy has broken down and sobbed in her hands for the past half an hour may be enhancing her generally calm demeanor when dealing with problems. But she gives Devon the space to handle this himself, her arms loosening around him to let him up if he wants to get up.

A nod follows Liz's words, and Devon lets out a steadying breath. His eyes flick toward the movement coming from the stairs, and though he can't hide the fact that he'd been crying, his expression becomes guarded when Graeme appears. "…Me too," he returns quietly, "sorry, Graeme." He looks toward the audiokinetic as she moves, then back toward Graeme. "For the soup, and your shirt. It was childish."

"Of me too, really" Graeme admits. There is recognition of Elisabeth's look, met with a nod, but for now, he came up here to apologise to Devon, not to account for his actions to Liz. "Like you said, I'm not five." There's a faint, neutral expression on his face, perhaps for the teenager's dignity as much as anything else, and then a hand is offered out to Devon, though the teacher's halfway caught between expecting a handshake and something else entirely.

Well, the admission seems to take the edge off Elisabeth's anger. She moves to slide her hands away from Devon, dropping a brief kiss on the back of the boy's head, and stands up. She steps back and says quietly, "I'm going to excuse myself at least audibly from this conversation, I think the two of you need to talk." She smiles a little, and wraps herself in a silence field to keep their conversation to just the two of them.

Another glance shifts toward Elisabeth, then Devon turns to look at Graeme. He doesn't accept the hand right away, choosing instead to stand before accepting it. While he shakes the older man's hand, he readily meets his gaze, allowing his own to fall away as his hand is taken back. "I… don't really have anything to say right now." Nothing he wants to say at the moment, lest the apologies be soured by more harsh words and raw emotion.

The handshake is pretty much the last part of apologies, for now, and Graeme nods. "Me neither. Just wanted to say sorry. And that I didn't mean it, what I said." The last part of the apology is just as genuine as the first, and Graeme tucks his free hand into his pocket once again, allowing the teenager space and staring up at the sky, pensive, biting down on his lip. Not hard enough to draw blood, but hard enough to betray that the teacher is thinking of the stairs behind him, without the actual intention to move.

"Yeah." Devon shifts on his feet and then says, "I'll see ya." And then he slips away.

She isn't listening, but she senses when one of them walks away through the vibrations of the rooftop. Glancing over her shoulder to see the teen leaving, Elisabeth drops the field and comes back over to stand next to Graeme. And there's a gentle cuff to the back of his head. "Quit doing that," she murmurs.

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