First Step


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Scene Title First Step
Synopsis Late is better than never.
Date March 30, 2019

Emily's not had a lot of spare time to herself lately, but she's cancelled her plans to go apartment snooping in order to take a side trip — somewhere she simultaneously had no desire and every desire to be.

She's glancing up and down the block uncomfortably, still outside the Raytech housing compound. Her hand is tight on the strap of her bag, feet unmoving. Her head turns down to them, like seeing will explain why she's stopped moving. Her eyes flutter closed in a moment she battles conflicting wills, jaw working as she gets up the nerve to move forward.

He's home. She's glad he is.

She's made the decision to not keep her distance. If only she can get over this first step.

Harrison Residence

Raytech Housing Compound

March 30, 2019

An unexpected knock comes at the door, Emily finally having let her knuckles fall to rap against its surface. She clears her throat while she waits, gaze unfocused. She's shown up unannounced, things she means to say little more than half-formed thoughts. Being driven by her gut and her feelings isn't a foreign thing to her, but still one that causes her anxiety. There's so much that can go wrong when you don't think things through.

There's some movement on the other side of the door, a foot finds that one spot on the floor that insists on creaking just inches from the threshold. A shift of movement against the door could be an eye peeking through the peephole just before tumblers rattle within the lock.

Devon's face appears in the space made as he opens the door, happy to find Emily in the hallway, but maybe a touch concerned also. “Hey.” The door is opened wider, so she can enter the apartment. “I wasn't expecting anyone.” Which is true, he's barefoot in board shorts and a t-shirt, and there's a plate with a half finished sandwich on the arm of the sofa. And it looks like he's working his way through a game on the Super Nintendo.

A smile forms for a second and he nods his head as further invitation inside. “Everything okay?”

"Yeah," Emily asserts quickly, maybe with the ghost of a smile before it's gone. She's already resigned herself to heading in, so there's no hesitation after she's invited. "I wanted to swing by and… say hi." she offers lightly. Since she finds it likely he'll think it suspect if she leaves it at that, she adds more mildly, "And talk."

Once inside the door, she shuffles her weight from one foot to the other, brow starting to furrow. "Is anyone else here?" Emily asks, turning to Devon after. Her posture, as stiff as it is, speaks to a lack of comfort here, but not necessarily with him as she meets his gaze.

“Okay,” Devon says slowly as he looks her over, wondering if there’s still something he ought to be concerned about. He eases the door closed, and habit makes him lock it once it clicks into place. “Jared’s at work or at the market or… I don’t know, he’s out.” He shrugs then motions toward the sofa with a hand, inviting Emily to make herself comfortable.

“You want anything? I think there’s iced tea.” He half follows toward the living area, but lingers so that he can grab drinks or snacks or whatever.

"I'm okay for now," Emily reassures him, managing a smile this time. Dipping her head in an acknowledgement of the offer, she makes her way closer by the couch, not sitting herself down just yet. Despite hearing that they're alone, she looks to kitchen and down the hall nonetheless, as if expecting that to change at any moment. She brushes her hair back from her face with one hand, threading strands behind her ear.

"Do… you have a plan for when you're leaving New York?" she asks, her gaze wandering back his way a moment after. She assumes a return to Rochester is an inevitable shift for him.

There’s no one else home, and not even the hint that anyone should be returning soon. Dev watches her for a beat longer, then goes into the kitchen to fill a couple of glasses with the promised tea from a pitcher in the fridge. “I don’t know yet,” he answers honestly, as he carries the glasses to the living room.

After passing one of the glasses off to Emily, he finds the remote and turns off the television. “Things are still undecided.” He hesitates slightly, given that Em is still standing, but decides to sit anyway. He does tip his head as an invitation to join him again, though. “But not for a while, if I do go back.”

When Devon leaves to go be a good host, Emily looks off and exhales long from her nose. She didn't want to make herself comfortable in case this turned out to be a short conversation requiring a swift exit. It'd be easier on them both if she didn't have anything she needed to set aside, if he didn't have anything to clean up after she was gone.

But that was a silly concern, hopefully, and she tries to remind herself of that.

Emily lifts her head up as he comes back, still standing. She takes the glass in her hands, trying not to look too unhappy about it, and drums her fingertips along the side of it as he settles in. Only after he nods for her to sit, too, does she slowly settle in adjacent from him, on the other arm of the couch. She holds the glass in her hand rather than setting it down. "If?" she asks, a cautious note in it. Her eyes flit up and down his form, studying him warily. "Is there a reason you'd not go back?"

“I don’t know.” It’s still an honest answer, because Devon doesn’t know. He shakes his head dismissively. There are a lot of factors that keep running through his mind with returning, but he’s also reluctant to air it all out and cause Emily more worry. As it is he watches her for a moment longer, then looks at the filled glass he holds.

A long swallow is taken from his serving of tea, and then the glass is placed on the coffee table. The plate with the half-finished sandwich joins it after a second. As he sits back again, he looks at Emily, mustering a small smile although there’s concern edging into his expression again.

There's sympathy in Emily's gaze for his indecision, and she watches him in return. While he works through deciding what to do with his tea, she points out, "You've been through a lot. It sounds like it's been just … one thing after another for a good seven years or longer." She looks off, brow ticking down into a furrow at that, and she leans forward, elbows on knees. "So if you wanted to step back after that, I don't think anyone could fault you. Hell, they'd think you were smart, getting out while you could. Smarter than m—" she just barely stops the words from coming out, looking down at her own glass now intently. Unlike him, she doesn't cleanse her mental or physical palate by drinking, doing things the hard way instead.

"… But if it's what you want to be doing, then you shouldn't give it up."

Her gaze is solemn but lacking judgement as she meets his eyes again, shoulders hunched from the way she's sitting rather than any inherent tension she holds in them.

“I’m proud of the work I’ve done,” Devon points out, although it has qualities that he’s reminding himself of that also. And he is proud of it. He’s done a lot to bring war criminals to justice, but it’s come at a cost that’s seems to be creeping up on him. And this last mission has left him rattled. “I’ve been in deep since I was sixteen and I’m just… not as sure anymore.”

He hangs off the admission for a beat, maybe realizing the truth of it now that it’s said aloud. His head shakes slowly, and he looks at Emily. “I’ve got time to figure it out and decide anything. For now I’m staying in town instead of flying back to Rochester.”

Since he was sixteen.

Emily had spent half of sixteen being unwell, and he spent his wielding a gun.

"Okay," she concedes, supportive in that consideration. Without having taken so much as a sip from the drink in her hand, she sets it aside in favor of scooting several inches closer to him. The closer distance makes it easier for her to reach for him, arm rotating from the elbow with her palm up for him to take her hand.

"Listen, I'd…" Emily starts, then pauses, mouth dry. She glances down briefly before settling her gaze back his direction with renewed determination. "I thought a lot about what you'd said — about wanting to make us work." She takes in a sharp breath as she admits painfully, "And I don't think that I'd wished it worked out, and sooner, just because you were gone."

"So…" So what, Emily? "So I want to try this, if you're still willing."

"I can make weekend trips up to Rochester so it's not all you," she explains, cautious as ever. "And we can play it by ear."

With a glance down, Devon takes Emily's hand in his, weaving his fingers with hers. His eyes come up again when she begins speaking, studying her carefully. His brows knit slightly, unsure of where her line of thought is headed. But even with that uncertainty his hand gives hers a small squeeze as a gentle reminder that he's back.

Then a breath escapes — she wants to try — that he didn't realize he'd been holding.

“Of course I want to.” He doesn't need to think about it, he already knows. Dev brings Emily's hand up and places a light kiss on her knuckles. “We can figure it out.” Lowering her hand, he tips his head to rest against hers. “Rochester and everything.”

Emily's worried countenance shifts when he accepts, brow turning inward. She's glad! … but still cautious, and trying to keep her reservations from showing. Everything's going to be fine, after all. She shimmies another few inches closer so they're sitting shoulder to shoulder, eyes closing when he leans into her. It's a cherished gesture, but something new, almost uncomfortable. With the adrenaline rush that came from knowing he was safe now over, half-constructed walls were now back in place.

"Or wherever you end up," she adds as an amendment to his last statement, now that she's out and said what she meant to before realizing he was considering not going back. No pressure, after all.

When she exhales finally, a lot of weight goes with it, her shoulders dipping before her whole being feels lighter.

Now what? is a question she barely has time to consider as she's opening her eyes, looking back at him with a warm smile. It could be read as shy, but in this case, it's coy. "A lot happened the last few months. I'm not sure I should tell you some of it or just wait for you to figure it out on your own." she teases, leaning her shoulder into his.

Along with a small nod, Dev makes a quiet sound of agreement. Wherever he ends up, which for the near future it’s likely to be Rochester. Although it may change one day.

He lets go of the uncertain things and sighs, an easier breath than he’s let out in days, and settles comfortably beside Emily. With his eyes closed, a light smile touches his lips and he appears content to sit and wonder at the newness and closeness and tumble of emotions that’s suddenly fills him. Worries are pushed away to just take in the moment.

“What?” Tilting his head, Devon looks at her with one brow ticking up slightly. His own smile remains, even if he looks a touch suspicious. “I… wouldn’t even know where to begin to guess,” he admits after giving an earnest moment’s thought. “What’s happened? What’ve I missed?”

"Um…" Where to even begin, honestly? Emily's eyes dart to various points as she mentally counts back the last time since they'd really spoke. It being before Christmas means there's a lot of ground to cover. She decides to take it slow, but hit the major points.

"A good friend of mine, she—" There's a brief moment of consideration as to how she wants to phrase this one. "She fell into a coma, right after the shitshow at Raytech," Emily explains. "It took a little over a month for her to be herself again, and I was there when she woke up." Realizing she's omitted something important, she adds more slowly, almost embarrassed, "Her name's Geneva." A name she'd never brought up before, because there'd not been the opportunity in their texts before Emily had stopped talking to him entirely. December had been a busy month.

Her brow furrows, her expression stern. More at herself than anything. Her voice is soft as she looks back to Devon with that same intensity. "You two should meet at some point," she suggests firmly. "If only so she can give you as much as shit as she gives me." Emily's sternness breaks with a faint laugh and she looks down to their clasped hands again, adjusting the lacing of them. "I met her when I was looking for your Christmas present," she admits with less temerity than she had just a moment prior.

That mild suspicion easily gives way to interest. Devon watches her quietly as she starts to explain what he'd missed, knowing that it was a lot and not only from the two months he was apparently absent. Both brows raise over Geneva’s troubles, but it’s the part about meeting Emily’s friend that gets a grin out of him.

“So she can give me shit too. Should I be worried?” He takes a turn at teasing, with his earlier suspicion hinted in the grin.

It’s a look that sobers after a few seconds. His Christmas present. He didn’t open it until just before the mission in January. “Thank you for the scarf,” Dev says quietly, apologetically. He should have said so before now.

Her brow arches at the thank you. "But I…" is as far as Emily gets in her murmur, her eyes searching his face. She'd never given him his gift, though? As she puts together what must have happened, at least on some level, it's her ears that color red first. She tries to stave off the rest of her blush by shoving his shoulder with her other hand, only half-looking at him.

"Yes," she segues with insistence. "You should be very worried. If she doesn't make at least one joke at your expense, it'll be a problem." Emily shoots a look at him out of the corner of her eye with a small but persistent smile, squeezing his hand.

Looking off entirely, she thinks about what else happened. "I started classes…" she relates, though he already knew that. "Oh," is said with a thoughtful perk in her tone. "I'm sort of working with SESA? It's an internship. It's mostly boring bullshit, but it's paying for my classes." Emily nods absently at that, starting to lean back and settle into the couch. "More characters than I expected working for them," she admits with a wrinkle of her nose. "I'm perpetually engaged in desk wars with one of their agents." she laughs.

It's likely it didn't occur to him to mention how he'd gotten the gift, and he lets it remain unsaid. The rush of color causes Devon to grin, however, and he slightly exaggerates the force of her shove while chuckling.

“It's a bad thing if Geneva doesn't harass me,” he muses, as he sits up straight again. “Got it. How's she… You what?”

He turns enough to better face Emily, brows pushing toward his hair. Impressed and excited for her would be an understatement, but Devon keeps it all controlled. “A SESA internship? That's great! Even if it's boring government blather. I'm sure it'll get more interesting, and it's an amazing opportunity anyway!”

Her shoulders tense up in surprise as she's taken aback by Devon's enthusiasm for her opportunity. Emily shakes her head, trying to play it down, but her face warms. "Yeah, I…" she manages out, picking at the edge of her jacket with her other hand. Honestly, she didn't think it would get any more interesting, but it would be a good resume-padder, which was all that mattered.

Flopping back into the couch wholeheartedly, Emily lets her head hit the cushion before rolling it to the side to look at him. "It's not a big deal," she insists with a lift of her brow, too much emphasis on the words to do anything but give away she's just trying to make it sound less than it actually is. "… but it is kind of awesome." is as much as she'll finally concede, the hint of a smile returning unbidden to her lips as she looks at him.

He's so enthused on her behalf, how could she not? Both smile, or look at him.

She squeezes his hand fondly, placing aside all other questions and chatter to just enjoy his company for a moment.

“It is a big deal.” Dev half laughs as he insists on that. “You've probably already heard the whole bit about supporting evo-rights, but that's huge. And it's important for you.” For all his excitement there's a sincerity about his words too. He's proud of her.

He settles back into the couch, slipping his hand free of hers so he can wrap his arm around her shoulders. “We should celebrate.” He tilts his head to the side to look at Emily, eyebrows raising.

Emily's grin grows as he gets more enthusiastic, shoulders slipping up into a sheepish shrug as he insists on the importance of it all. "It's not that big a deal," she grumbles, halfhearted in her grousing. She lifts her head only so she can lay it back down on his shoulder, leaning into him.

Her expression flickers as he suggestions a celebration, her brow starting to furrow in thought. "Should we?" she asks dubiously. As skeptical as she is about throwing importance on top of it, she doesn't disengage from his loose embrace, finding herself curling into him instead. Enduring the suggestion is an acceptable price to pay for the closeness, she decides.

"So, how's the whole… Liz thing?" Emily asks as a diversion. All the better to shift focus away from celebrations.

“It's… I don't know.” Devon stares at the blank television screen while giving thought to the question. It's a tough one, oddly. “It's a little strange knowing she's back, seeing her. It's been seven years.” It might even offer him some insight to the reactions to his two-month disappearance.

“It was really… weird I guess.” His head tilts enough so he can look at Emily. “I get back from California and the very next day there's Liz. She likes your fierceness.” That last bit is added with a grin and a small squeeze of his arm.

"Does she now," she drawls in reply, eyes threatening to roll up into her head. She somehow doubts Elisabeth was as kind in a private retelling about what happened when they first met. Emily's not embarrassed or bashful about how that had played out, but her eyes narrow as she looks somewhere past Devon. "She was kind enough not to tell me 'I told you so' to my face," comes from her somewhat sorely. "while we were still waiting for you to wake up."

“Yeah,” Devon answers, suddenly cautious. And curious. He shifts slightly to get a better look at Emily, searching for insight to why an I told you so would be relevant. Whatever had transpired between the two never came up during his first conversation with Liz.

“All she said was you had fire, and she admired that. Seriously, you left a good impression.”

That said, Dev leans back again, and lets his head rest lightly on Em’s. He's quiet for a bit, comfortable to just think. “I didn't ask the other day,” he says after a moment, “when I met up with you on campus. You've just started classes, but how're they going?”

Emily avoids Devon's gaze at first deliberately, and on a glance back sees he's still regarding her with that vaguely inquisitive look. She shifts her gaze away again before losing a contest of wills in which only she was playing in the one-sided comfortable silence. Emily turns properly back to him, explains brusquely, "I hit her."

Almost immediately after, she segues to answer his question, first reminding him gently, "Back in January," before moving to give him a proper response, voice lifting. "Courses are going well. Mostly groundwork bullshit right now, Math and English." One shoulder lifts to indicate she's more or less indifferent one those. "Joe's suffering through the English class with me; switched his schedule so ours matched. I like the ASL course best, though it's the easy A since it's a beginner-level course and I knew most of the signs already."

Later, Devon might laugh and wonder about how it came to be that Emily hit Liz, but the conversation has already shifted. A grin at the vague explanation will have to do for now.

His amusement falters when reminded it’s no longer January, grin slipping a fraction. There's an instant of confusion that he tries to hide by nodding. “Right.” That's what he meant. “Those core classes are basically worthless,” he agrees in lighter tones. “Unfortunately necessary. I hated them, especially the pacing.”

After shrugging one shoulder, Dev angles a look at Emily. “ASL sounds awesome though.”

Emily feels it, more than sees it — the fracture in his understanding of time, and what happens when she points it out. It's something that happens to both of them, after all, so she at least feels her part.

Does she point out why she hit her? Does she continue the conversation as it's gone on? Should she console him about the slip? Would calling it out somehow make it worse?

Her hand isn't in his anymore, or she'd already have tightened her grip on him both in support and indecision.

"It'd be better if they could just be skipped. Tested out of," she hears herself agreeing, speaking before she has the opportunity to really think anything through. Emily firms her mouth into a smile that doesn't reach her eyes before it's already fading. "ASL is pretty awesome, in general."

Once that's done, the silence resumes. It's brief, but even that briefness is so uncomfortable she needs to get rid of it immediately. She doesn't know what to fill it with, so even still leaning against him, she cycles back to the first thing she can think of. She tries fill the silence all too abruptly, words failing her. "I'd …. Liz'd—"


Emily forces another smile to try and salvage the train of conversation, this one more like a grimace. It's a futile effort, seeing as she can't find her voice again at the moment. She's glad she didn't finish the thought, but also regrets not immediately thinking of anything else. Things had been going so well, too. she thinks to herself. "Sorry," escapes her in a halting, quiet voice.

She looks back to him, expression unreadable in the brief moment before her face burrows into the side of his head. Emily holds onto him in a tight hug, one arm around his shoulders and the other tucked behind him. "I'm just glad you're alright, okay?" is as much justification as it is another apology. It was important he knew where she was coming from.

Her apology brings another round of uncertainty, and also concern. Devon begins to question, but Emily's actions put a hold on that. His arm around her shoulders tightens into an embrace, and he brings his other hand up to hold her head to his.

“It's alright,” he reminds her quietly. And it may be a reminder for himself as well.

After a couple of moments, his arms loosen but stay wrapped around her. Devon turns his head far enough to kiss Emily's cheek. “What happened with Liz,” he asks after, watching her.

There's no single set of words that would suffice for the comfort brought on by Devon's reassurances to her, and the broad scope it encompasses. It's alright. He's all right. She's all right. And if anything would happen to threaten that togetherness, one or the other or the both of them would punch it in the face.

Her hug around him tightens.

It's only reluctantly that she pulls back at all, enough that he can read her expression though she points her gaze slightly off of his features. "She… in her own way, tried to tell me she didn't think it was the end. That you weren't gone until we saw proof of it. 'No body, no…'" Emily lifts her shoulders in lieu of finishing the sentence. She would rather acknowledge his being back than the state they'd thought him all to be in.

"I got mad," she says easily enough, but it's accompanied with a long exhale. "I thought it was insulting, to you most of all. She was saying to hold on hope, but I just found it disrespectful. Jared'd already had a memorial, and she came out of nowhere, had the audacity to say something like that."

Her voice takes on a hint of care to it as she admits, "I'd have slapped her a lot harder, maybe worse, if not for Raquelle. He's —" Emily pauses carefully, voice catching on the words. If there's anything she regrets about it, it appears to be having let Raquelle down. "He made a lot of good points, tried to talk me down, but I still ended up doing it."

There's barely a beat before she forces a smile that comes off sheepish. "So," she admits tepidly. "That happened."

The universe is laughing its ass off because …. timing is a real thing. It's not as if it's a strange thing — when Jared and Carina are out, Elisabeth checks on Devon. Probably far more often than even he is aware. It's only a full entry into the apartment several times a day. The rest of the time, she merely listens for his heartbeat. From a floor away. Or sometimes outside the door. Not that he needs to know that.

This isn't one of those times. This is one of those times when the door pops open because she has a key and knows he may be sleeping, so she doesn't knock. And then she stops rather awkwardly in the open doorway. "I… will start knocking?" she immediately say with a rather 'ooops!' face going on. "I didn't mean to interrupt when you had company over." He's an adult, not that teenager. She grimaces a little. Her blue eyes flicker to Emily and she nods to the younger woman. "Emily," is her cautious greeting.

"I'll … just leave this here, and you guys can have it for lunch, there's plenty." She moves to set the dish she almost forgot she was carrying onto the small breakfast bar.

While Emily speaks, Devon's response is to give her a small squeeze while he listens. He can see how Liz's statement could be taken as a disservice, and knowing that Em took it as such is humbling. He also knows Elisabeth has years more experience with conspiracies than he does, and the truth of her statement.

One day he will guide Emily deeper into the rabbit hole where those thoughts and theories are common. But not today.

Today he listens and gives his support and understanding in that silent way of his.

His arms tighten around Emily again when she finishes the story of how she slapped Liz. “One time,” he begins, deciding to somehow relate one of his experiences to hers, but the door opening severs that thought. He isn't expecting anyone home for a while, and the sound causes a tension to grip him as he looks —

— and sees Elisabeth standing in the doorway.

“I…” Dev slants a quick look at Emily. Heat is already rising up his neck and into his ears. Of course all they've really been doing is talking, and yet there's still something weirdly uncomfortable about having a parental figure walk in unexpectedly. Like being caught sneaking cookies before supper. Yet he doesn't move, but stubbornly keeps his arms around the younger woman. “It's um… Emily was telling me about what I'd missed.”

The sound of the keys in the lock draws Emily's attention immediately to it, hair on the back of her neck raising. Her mouth hardens into a line, eyes shifting that way first. Her legs shift, one foot hitting the ground before the door swings in, uncomfortably regarding the woman on the other side as soon as she's visible. And … this is exactly what I was worried about. she growls inwardly. Her heart is still racing from the adrenaline that had spiked in her system, and would for some time yet.

Regardless of Devon's accuracy in the explanation he offers up, it sounds like they're doing little but making excuses to cover something else. The apology in it provokes her arms to shift, the one about his back pulling free … but Dev firmly keeps his grip around her. She shifts a glance at him at his stubborn persistence, hands pulling back to herself regardless of his own actions. They weren't doing anything uncouth, but…

"Yes," she simply agrees at Liz, terse in doing so. Some kind of warning would have been great — the surprise of the walk-in made it feel as though she'd been caught in the act of something compromising. It's irrational, she knows, because of the reality — yet it wouldn't matter if the audiokinetic assumed something else had been going on. She's in fact getting less and less rational about it each second that elapses.

Emily tracks Liz's movements, gaze sharp and practically icy as she follows her trajectory. What dish has been brought isn't regarded, her gaze breaking off and shifting toward the door instead when Elisabeth nears the kitchen. Tension gathers in her, a preparation to bolt rather than face any awkward assumptions or questions. Bolt right out of Devon's stubborn cling, if she has to. Her torso shifts, her other foot hitting the ground as she turns away from having been curled into him.

"Catching up on the lost time is hard," she acknowledges quietly. Elisabeth, of all people, knows that one. "Even with friends and family helping, you're still going to get blindsided sometimes. Especially on the parts that you can't remember that none of us can tell you about — some of the missing pieces will just … never fill in." Her tone holds firsthand experience — she has never regained the missing time in her own head either, and she worries about what's waiting in those mental dark corners to bite him in the ass.

Elisabeth has the uncomfortable sensation of being the parental figure walking in on a grown child. She has a huge amount of sympathy for her father right now. Setting the dish on the countertop, she responds to Devon's words. "Anyway… you're recovering enough that I should knock anyway — I just didn't want to wake you if you were sleeping. You're awake most of the time instead of sleeping now, so it's time. I'm sorry to have interrupted your conversation." There's no innuendo to her tone; the situation with Emily is still too fraught with landmines as far as she's concerned to allow for that kind of levity. AWK-ward!

Apology settles into the look Devon directs at Emily next, a response to her sudden shift in attitude. His arms loosen when she turns away, then reluctantly he lets mostly go. “Yeah,” he agrees with Liz while capturing Em’s hand with his. If she’s going to leave, he’s going to see her to the door at least. They have nothing to hide or run from. “Emily was telling me about her classes, and some things she started since January.” What those things are he leaves alone for the moment, although a glance goes to the younger woman as an invite to share if she chooses.

After shifting forward slightly, he stands and draws Emily up too. “Just catching up since we haven’t had a good chance to.” Due to hospitals and recovery. “Nothing like trying to find the missing pieces.” He hasn’t tried, it hasn’t been a conversation he’s even had with himself yet. Dev looks at Liz and shifts a shoulder upward. It’s probably meant to be an apology also, and likely an acceptance of the audiokinetic’s.

Nothing to hide was the mantra Emily was repeating to herself over and over, as little good as it was doing her. She was nowhere near prepared to begin flaunting her closeness with Devon. Even her hand in his only timidly clasps his back to complete the hold. She doesn't return his glance, declining his silent invitation to share. Nope, that would impede the quick escape she was hoping to make.

"I was on my way out anyway," she makes her excuse, looking somewhere between the both of them. It's the politest way she can avoid making eye contact. "I've got some — things still left to do today. My mom, she's — she's coming into town, so I need to…" get her schoolwork out of the way, prepare to pick her up, figure out if she was getting a dress for the gala — could be any number of things. But she'd not mentioned most of those, had she?

"The next few days are busy, with her, with the cherry blossom party and stuff, so—" Emily seems to become aware of the manifestation of her anxiety, so she finally looks to Devon, eyes meeting. "But I'll text." For at least that moment, she's straightforward and reassuring, confident in her delivery. She squeezes his hand. Text or not, he knows she'll get in touch somehow. If all else failed, she'd just show up again.

Emily starts to lean in, like one would to place a chaste kiss on the cheek, but the movement stutters. "I—" is as far as she manages, and then she withdraws, her hand sliding from Devon's as she tries to head for the door before her cheeks dare to flush with color.

Elisabeth isn't too surprised by the way Emily's reacting — the younger woman seems… let's use "highly strung" about certain things. And since she who lives in a glass house can't afford to throw stones, she simply nods slightly and makes it as easy for Emily as she can. "It's good to see you again." Once more, there doesn't appear to be innuendo or anything other than sincerity in the quiet words.

Next time you better believe she'll be knocking first.

“Yeah, alright.” Devon masks the mild pang of disappointment with a nod and a small smile. And he obviously ignores the warm, creeping redness that returns to his ears when Emily steps away. He angles a quick look at Liz that's a jumble of emotions, mostly an awkward uncertainty, as he follows Emily to the door.

“Talk to you soon,” he says as he pulls open the door. The hesitancy in the action isn't so easily hidden, but he moves aside so Em can leave.

Emily might appreciate Liz's attempts to make her feel comfortable later. Way later. But currently, there's little else in her but the desire to go. All she does is nod quickly. Yup, nice to see everyone, catch up with everyone later. Wait wait— not everyone, just Devon. Definitely just Devon.

She shoots him in particular a look verging on apologetic before placing herself on the other side of the threshold. "See you soon," Emily echoes back in a whisper, lingering in that spot for only a pair of seconds. She moves before she looks away, hesitation evident in the stuttering attempt to head off. The whole leaving thing is suddenly daunting, and if she hadn't rushed into it, she realizes suddenly it might have taken her a long time to pry herself away otherwise.

Everything's alright, though. She's not saying goodbye and he's leaving for California again, it's just —

"I'll call you later," Emily repeats over her shoulder. Maybe because she'll need it, even if Devon doesn't.

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