Family Sticks Together


devon2_icon.gif graeme2_icon.gif

Scene Title Family Sticks Together
Synopsis Graeme explains that no matter matter what happens, family sticks together.
Date June 26, 2011

Skinny Brickfront : Endgame Safehouse

There's plenty to do between lunch and supper. One could be napping or watching the clock in anticipation of being let out of the office or school. You could be reading or painting, rewiring the air conditioner, turning your chest type freezer into a bitchin' radio. Really, the possibilities are endless. But when you're supposed to be hiding, whiling away your hours inside a safe house, you're a bit more limited.

This afternoon, for example, finds Devon sitting on the floor and appears to be doing some writing. The camp chairs placed around the common room are all empty, free to be used, but the boy has chosen to rest his posterior on the surface trafficked by countless shoes. With legs crossed and folded in front of him, a spiral notebook rests in his lap while a pen is twirled absently between two fingers. There are indeed words upon the opened page in front of him.

The teen's chin rests cradled in a hand, the attached elbow braced against a thigh. Every so often downcast eyes drift closed for a longer than average blink, the pen pausing in its motion. Then, as though remembering he was doing something, Devon's eyes open and the twirling resumes. Only, in turn, to be broken again as notes or a crude drawing are added to the paper already begun.

Graeme's one of the few who does leave, but when he comes back to the safehouse in the early afternoon, it's not for the roof of the safehouse, or the basement, or anything else. Instead, quietly, he goes and sits down next to Devon. On the floor, like the teenager, though not crosslegged. The usual way that Graeme sits, legs to chest and arms wrapped around them, chairs still free if someone who doesn't like the floor shows up. He's sitting close enough to talk quietly, without the risk of being overheard. "Hey."

The movement beside him is registered almost immediately, Devon's exhaustion not heavy enough to override his awareness of his surroundings. His eyes open, wary, but he doesn't turn or acknowledge Graeme until after the older man has spoken. With a slight shift of his posture, hands coming together to close his notebook, a look is slanted toward Graeme. "Hey," he echoes, the quietness of his own tone masking the still sleep deprived roughness in his voice. Some things may be better, but emotions are still raw enough to keep him from sleeping.

It takes a moment for Graeme to actually say anything to Devon, even this time around, but he'll skip and dispense with the sorry and the apologies and go for the more mundane concerns. "I might be going out again later. Anything I can get you?" There's worry, concern, both very apparent in the teacher's voice at the moment. He's not really attempting to hide them. For once, it won't hurt if the teenager knows that Graeme has feelings, and that some of those feelings include caring about the ttenager's welfare out of more than simple duty.

A slow shake of the boy's head is offered, eyes lowering. The notebook is folded in half, open end to spine, as his knees are drawn toward his chest. "Thanks, but I don't need anything." The pen in his hand is jammed into the wire spiral at the back of the notebook, then arms are draped over his knees. An awkward silence follows, eyes slanting briefly toward Graeme again, then lowering again.

"Wasn't asking if you needed anything, really," Graeme says, quiet. "Asking, more if you wanted anything." It's that subtle difference, though he won't push the teenager, letting the awkward silence pick up again as he tries, and fails, to grasp for other words to say to fill the space, or for something, anything. "Anything that I could pick up, that is." Far too late into the awkward silence, probably, Graeme realises the wrongness in his phrasing, face hidden in the palms of his hands.

There isn't a lot that Devon wants, nothing that Graeme would be able to provide or pick up in any case. And his basic needs are pretty well met as it is. So he shakes his head again, slightly, looking vaguely apologetic though his expression remains mostly guarded. "I'm fine, Graeme," he says quietly, a subtle tension easing into his tone, "really, I… I don't want anything—" He hesitates in speaking further, mouth open but breath held, abstaining from further words being uttered. The boy decides to shake his head again, lips pressing together. The boy swallows past a sudden lump in his throat then sighs, head bowing a little.

It's Graeme's own knowledge of things, important things, that are wants that he simply will never have, that brought on the apologetic attitude at the statement to begin with. "Alright," he says, quietly. "Sorry. Sometimes I …" there's a shrug, as if the shrug is adequate explanation for whatever emotional turmoil he's experienced and then just as soon shoved away. "'S hard," he eventually says, after a long allowed period of silence that's somehow not nearly as awkward as the earlier one, soft drawl almost slurring the words together.

Fingers sweep over his eyes, thumb and forefinger moving in unison from outside to inside to clear away any shaming moisture that might have found its way free. Devon follows that up with a brush of his sleeve across his nose but maintains face enough to not sniffle. "It's fine," he mutters, after clearing his throat. "Just… yeah. It's hard."

Graeme's hands finally come away from his face, when the teacher trusts himself, and his composure, and then he offers Devon a tentative smile. "There's anything, you let me know, okay?" He leans forward against his knees, looking about the room more than really watching Devon or watching anything in particular. And there is true concern in his voice. "I mean it." The words take on a slightly more teasing tone, with less unease behind them than there had been before.

"Yeah," Devon agrees, still quietly, rough edged in tone. He clears his throat again, slanting a look toward the teacher. His jaw clenches as he swallows. "Thanks," follows, partially muttered. The notebook, still folded in half, is grasped between both hands, flexed slightly one way and then the other. "…That… all you wanted," he asks, unassuming and lacking sarcasm. Partially in invitation for Graeme to hang around if he wants, an opening however subtle if there's more the older man wants to say.

There is a little bit of having relaxed, in Graeme's posture, that at the least, he's probably not going to get up for a while. The first time it seems like he's going to say something, though, it's not, just easier silence. "Just wanted to make sure, an' all." The drawl still slurs the words. "Family sticks together, odd bunch as we may be or not." There's that lump in his throat again, though, and one hand comes up to brush against the stubble that he hasn't gotten a chance to shave recently.

Whether or not he has family left, out there, it's not the same as the family that he's chosen for himself, which comes closer to filling the huge voids that are more often simply hidden. Some ties are closer than blood, and there's certainly far more kinship that the teacher feels for the teenager, at least, than for his wayward sister somewhere out there.

Leaning forward, the boy's notebook comes up in his hands, just enough to press his forehead against one end of it. He doesn't look at Graeme this time, eyes settled somewhere beyond the thin cardstock cover that holds his notebook together. He's not sure what to say, how to reply. Of all the people in the house, he'd only dared to considered two of those as family and only after they'd made the decision for what it was and tell him he was part of it. Such a sacred thing, family, something he longs for but tends to fear as well.

Graeme gives it a moment, and turns to Devon. "I do mean it." He's considered the kid family for a while, even if it took Liz perhaps telling him so for him to realise it. "Even if we argue and quibble stupidly, sometimes." And there is surety in the teacher's voice that reflects his words, though there is softness, as well. Family is sacred, and sometimes he has to remind himself that someone being family doesn't mean he's trying to replace the family that he's lost; that one doesn't exclude the other.

Devon's head slips from its prop to hang between his shoulders. His hands, one still clutching the notebook, cover over the back of his head. His shoulders lift as he draws in a steadying breath. Still, he finds himself unable to answer, unsure of what to say, though his mouth, if mostly concealed, works to find some word or phrase. In the end, he relents to any sufficient thought with a nod, an agreement of like ideas. Hands drop away and allow his head to lift, teeth press into his lower lip and eyes again show traces of moisture.

Graeme sits there. There's no answer necessary, really. And after a while of allowing the silence, he reaches over to slow set one hand on Devon's shoulder, a wordless gesture of at least attempting to convey that to the teenager without saying more than he already has and simply being redundant.

"Sorry about your mom," Devon offers, sweeping the ridge of his thumb across his eyes. "And your shirt. I… I wouldn't have…" He glances toward Graeme again, brows pinched together, eyes narrowed in regret and remorse.

"It's alright," Graeme says, quietly. "I know, you didn't know. It's not like it's something I talk about that much, either. And Jaiden got it clean, so you know?" He offers the teen a faint half a smile. "Probably cleaner than it was when I put it on in the morning, even. No harm done except that I prolly should have helped you clean up way more." And the argument and the cutting words in both directions, but that goes without saying and doesn't need to be brought up again. And Graeme is still wearing the shirt, a few days later, but it's no longer with quite the same clinging desperation that it had been at first.

The boy shakes his head a little. He glances toward Graeme, then lifts a shoulder slightly, furthering the apology in a more unspoken way. There isn't much else for him to say or do. A hand comes through his hair and ends with scratching the back of his neck. He doesn't talk about his parents much either. Occasionally grasping at a vague memory, something familiar that another has done often earns mention. But when the conversation turns down that path, he steers away.

Graeme nods, quietly. In a way, he's luckier, at least, than the teenager he's sitting next to, in that at least he had his adoptive parents for fifteen to twenty years of his life, years that are easier for him to remember, but in some ways that also can simply make it hurt all the more. For the moment, though, he remains quiet, before reaching over to hug the teenager and rising to his feet, another nod an unspoken reminder of the earlier offer that Graeme had made.

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