Less Personal Questions


devon_icon.gif graeme_icon.gif savannah_icon.gif

Scene Title Less Personal Questions
Synopsis Following your own advice can be hard.
Date February 25, 2011

Dorchester Towers: Lobby

"I'll be back after lunch." Devon's last words to Brad before leaving the studio still rattle around in his head. He wouldn't be missed too much if lunch extended an extra hour. The stress of work was getting to him, the constant droning of voices and deadlines, faces he didn't recognize or barely knew. Sometimes the physical page is far more easily dealt with than the mental pain. Yet he still insists on going in, trying to fit himself back into normal life, and grinding along until it becomes unbearable. Today, though, today he'll return after a longer lunch.

With an apple in hand, the teenager pushes through the doors into the common area of Dorchester Towers. He looks no worse than he did yesterday, as far as his injuries go. The bruising is still fading, the cut that runs from temple to nose still healing. It doesn't look like sleep came too easily last night, however, but a look would say that's a normal thing. He was up pretty late last night. Still in a shirt and tie, a black letterman-style jacket keeping out the cold, Devon looks every bit like he'd just left work.

The sounds of the outside cut off when the door closes behind Devon, blocking out the press of daily life as well as the cold. Though once inside, once cut off from the outside world, he returns to the window he'd been found at the night before. The apple, unblemished by teeth, remains in his hand, not forgotten but ignored instead.

Graeme awoke, with his roommate thankfully out somewhere. Showered, dressed, and left the apartment, with a note not to particularly expect him back until late at night. Once again, thick reinforced black jeans, work boots, a long sleeve shirt of thick, sturdy cotton in a shade of gray. The sweater he carries is gray as well. All in all, he's rather monotonous as he steps out of the rarely used stairwell. Generally, he leaves use of the elevators to others. Stairs are quiet, they give him time to think, and so he usually takes them when he has a choice.

The man is looking better, if still haggard and drawn a little. The few hours of sleep he got were fitful, and he woke far too often. Still, he's not letting it stop him from going out, though whether he'll find himself wandering some part of the city, or whether he'll find himself at the relief efforts at the edge of the Dome, he doesn't know. There's a pause, and his hand tightens in it's grip on his skateboard as he sees Devon.

A moment passes in the internal debate of whether he should just let the young man find what moments of peace he can. Slowly, a smile wedges onto his face, and he leans on the glass, several feet to one side of Devon. "Hey there. Whatchya lookin' at?" The tone of his question is gentle, not altogether unconcerned.

Unlike last night, Devon doesn't startle quite so badly. He still tenses, one hand still twitching for that place under his jacket and behind his back. He's armed this time, but the motion isn't committed to. He recognizes the voice, and though Graeme is greeted with wariness, his hand is stayed and brought back to the apple. His eyes focus on the man, regarding him for a moment before nodding.

"Hey," Devon replies quietly, eyes retreating to the world beyond the glass again. "Just… nothing specific. The people and cars going by, the lives of others." One shoulder lifts then falls again in a shrug.

"Easy there," Graeme says. There's a grim smile on his face, the most he can manage to mask the fact that he recognises the gesture of going for a firearm. The tension that springs to the man's frame is masked by the bulk of the sweater, and he slowly, slowly relaxes, nods, takes just half a step forward before setting his skateboard down to push it back and forth with one foot. Today, the wheels of the longboard are a startling shade of red, the only thing remotely colourful about Graeme's appearance.

There's a quiet nod, and Graeme leans against the glass, partially watching Devon, partially watching the surroundings, both inside and out.

"Sorry," is all Devon has to offer, a little more sincere than before. He lets out a sigh, brows furrowing, one hand releases the apple and rubs across his face. "Guess I should expect being noticed down here," he continues, trying to make light of his reaction, or at least lessen its apparent impact. Raising his hand further, he drags his fingers through his hair before finally letting the arm drop. Unsurprisingly, silence follows. Though after a moment or two, the teenager's eyes cast toward Graeme in question.

The look Graeme offers Devon is kind.

"Like I said last night," he says. "You don't need to be sorry. At least, not to me." Not that he expects it to have that much of a difference, but he'll say it anyway. He puts a little more of his weight on the skateboard. Slowly but surely, Graeme's losing the bit of tension that'd been in his posture, and he brings his arm up to rest his head on. "But yeah. It might help, if you can get used to being noticed. Get used to company, again." He's still not sure what the kid's been through. But he knows the signs, knows the patterns.

Not particularly inclined to dwell on his own actions, Devon turns a little more and watches Graeme. His eyes drop to the skateboard, drawn for the moment to the sounds of the wheels upon the floor. Then lifting again, his forehead scrunches as he actually takes in the man's appearance. "You look more like a laborer," he asides, "rather than a teacher. Even a sub. —What do you do when there's no classes that need filling in for?"

"Right now, I've been doing relief work," he says. At the Dome, where the Dome used to be. There's no need for Graeme to say it. "And if I don't ruin anything I need to wear to work usually, so much the better."

There's a pause. "My ability makes me useful there," Graeme admits. "And I hate being idle, so. Yes, it's common labor work, but." He shrugs, palms up.

Devon's expression shows he understands fully where the relief work is taking place. The dome has touched everyone's life to some extent, some more deeply than others. The hauntings and nightmares that keep him awake at night and follow him throughout the day, rolls anew across his visage. "…Good idea," he agrees, clearing his throat after.

"…What… what is your ability," the teenager asks, changing tracks. And hopefully not getting too personal. After his time in the bubble from Hell, vaguely understanding where it came from, he's both curious and cautious.

It's not the most personal of questions, but Graeme hesitates. Even if ability has become almost an acceptable topic. "Superhuman," and there's a tone in his voice that suggests he doesn't quite like the classification, "endurance. I don't need to sleep as much, I don't need as much rest, and can do things for longer. That's the simple way of putting it, at least."

What Graeme doesn't mention is his tendency to use his ability as an excuse, the fact that it aids in making him temperamental at times, the endless hours of doing nothing that once nearly drove him crazy. Instead, he just straightens a little, offers Devon a bit of a smile and a weary sigh.

"That's got to be useful," Devon says, an unsureness to his tone. The apple, ignored though held onto, is finally regarded and then stuffed into his coat pocket. He might get to it later. Or it could end up being forgotten and found later. "Could get annoying, though." Like most abilities, he'd have to assume.

Devon, for his part, is standing against a window. Bruises from several days ago mark his face and a line from a knife runs from his temple to nose. He's dressed in slacks, shirt and tie, black letterman-style jacket hanging from his shoulders. Beside the teenager is Graeme, dressed in shades of gray and appearing a little on the tired side. He is leaning against the window, a skateboard upon the floor but controlled under one foot.

Savannah has a death grip on her notebook. Pushing the door open with her arm, she moves to shove the notebook back into her bag, instead pulling out an empty water bottle. She makes a beeline to the water fountain. She pushes the button for water, tilting the bottle so the stream of water will fill up the plastic container.

"Who knows?" Graeme responds, with a hint of sarcasm to his voice. It's clear that for all he might rely on his ability, for all that he'd hate if it were gone, negated, or otherwise, he's not terribly fond of it. Both feelings exist at pretty much the same time. After a moment, Graeme nods, regarding the boy.

"I just try and make the best of it." Even when the best of it isn't so good. His tone is serious, quiet, and then he raises his free hand to wave at Savannah, slightly, biting down on his lower lip, hard enough that it's bleeding slightly, though he doesn't even seem to notice. Hopefully, he won't get admonished about sleep. Again.

"Think we'd ever know," Devon muses quietly. He doesn't know, he wouldn't yet, his own gene labeling him as evolved is still dormant. He gives that one-shoulder shrug again, answering his own question with the only viable answer. "Seems like everyone has the good and the bad."

Catching Graeme's wave, Devon flicks his eyes beyond the older man to Savannah. A slight tension ripples through him, but his hands stay in plain view. "Friend of yours," he says in assumption.

The bottle, a quarter full, is pulled away from the fountain. Savannah's free hand comes in a slight wave before a shaky hand snakes down into her message bag and pulls out a small bottle of pills. Leaning against the wall next to the fountain, she pulls out one of the pills, tossing it into her mouth and swallowing it quickly.

There's an affirmative nod from Graeme, though it's clear he's intending to give the woman the choice of whether to come and join the conversation, rather than beckoning her over. And apparently, the man is feeling a bit prosaic at the moment.

"The truth that makes men free is for the most part the truth which men prefer not to hear." It's said with the tone of voice that's more recital, lecture, than anything else, though with no unkindness, no judgment. He pauses, considers Devon. "It's still pretty rough. I know. It's going to take time, you know. It's going to take time."

Expression darkening, Devon's gaze slides back to Graeme, Savannah temporarily forgotten. "You have no idea," he states evenly, his own tone quiet but with cold edges. "Don't patronize me, or treat me like a child. You don't know what it is or isn't." For himself, the teenager means. Graeme may very well know what he's speaking of for his own being.

Pale eyes flick toward the woman again. Devon's jaw closes, muscles tightening briefly before he wills them to relax. It's hard to explain and even harder to practice the return to civilization after being severed from it. Worse is every day interaction, especially after the capture he'd suffered, taken by Humanis First. "You should say hi, if she's your friend," he adds after a pause and a breath.

Savannah finishes off the water she put in the bottle, back still against the wall for support for a moment before her still-shaking hand deposits the container in a trash bin. Her gaze flickers towards Graeme. "Did you get some rest?" She questions, but she doesn't approach them. No need to intrude.

"Yeah, I did," Graeme says, pitching his voice so that it carries, with practised ease. "Thanks." There's a pause and then Graeme answers Devon, slow drawl mixing with the clipped way the man tends to speak when he's tired.

"I am not patronising you. That wasn't my intention, and I'm sorry you took it like that." He bites his lip. It's bleeding again, there's a hint of it at the edge of his mouth, and still, Graeme doesn't notice. It's not a high enough thing on his pain tolerance scale to even register as more than a slight pinch. "I'm sorry, yeah?" He turns, to watch Savannah, biting back his own memories, further in the past but brought far too close to the surface.

Devon draws back into silence, with a marked watchfulness of eyes shifting between Graeme and Savannah. He lets out a slow breath, leveling a look on Graeme, then turning his attention to the world outside the window. "Yeah," he agrees, breaking his own silence. "Sorry."

Another breath sees the teenager stepping away from the window and moving toward the elevators. "I'll let you two catch up. Or… " He'll evade like he's wont to do.

Savannah takes a few steps forward, noting the two of them. "You don't have to leave. We don't really know each other. I just saw him today at a bookstore. Don't let me interrupt what you're talking about…" She offers, looking a bit guilty. Clearly she thinks the reason Devon's heading off is because of her.

Graeme takes half a step, testing his weight on the skateboard again, though he never actually rolls it back and forth within the actual building. He's stopped biting his lip, and he holds a hand up to Devon, briefly. Whether it's in parting, or gesturing for the teen to stay … he's going to let Devon and Savannah figure it out. For the moment, the man has nothing to say.

"We weren't talking about anything," Devon replies, not unkind. And at least, nothing he cares to touch on further. He doesn't press the button to call the elevator once he reaches it, eyes focused on the circle that would light up when touched. "Nothing that can't be interrupted. It's fine… I'm… I'm just wasting his time anyway."

The blonde's eyes fix on Devon for a long moment. "Wasting his time?" Savannah's gaze moves from Graeme back to Devon. "I don't know how much time he has, but I've got all the time in the world and you don't really seem like you're fully alright." She shifts her messenger bag. "You alright? I'm a good ear if you want to talk."

Graeme leaves his skateboard on the ground, and takes a few steps, pauses, then takes a few steps more, inserting himself between Devon and the elevator button. "You weren't wasting my time," he says, quietly. He's as serious about that statement as he'd been about the earlier ones.

"You some kind of shrink," Devon asks, head turning enough to afford a sidelong look at Savannah. "I'm fine, thanks. I don't really need to talk to anyone." Which may or may not be entirely true, but the boy's got a tight lid on his problems, reacting but not sharing. His attention returns to the elevator, and to Graeme.

Eyes narrow slightly, that coldness settling in again. He doesn't react beyond that, to the way being blocked from him. There are stairs, or he can return to work. Rather than speak further, he simply stares at Graeme, dispassionate.
Devon has partially disconnected.

"Not a shrink, I'm a writer," Savannah says, though she folds her arms over her chest as she watches him. "You don't sound fine. And I usually don't just offer to listen to everyone. I won't even say a word, if you wanna just get something out. Sometimes it helps."

Graeme doesn't really look like he's inclined to block Devon's way for very long. He rests a hand, carefully on the boy's uninjured shoulder, briefly. "Something someone told me today," he says. "It's not good to bottle it all up."

Then, Graeme's stepped out of the way, leaning on the wall with a careful eye on his skateboard, but if Devon wants to press the elevator button? Graeme's not in the way. "I haven't managed to listen to them, yet." He bites down on his lip, and straightens a bit. "But." And then, Graeme's walking to give Savannah and Devon a little bit of space, picking up his skateboard, but not leaving. Not quite yet.

Almost as soon as Graeme's hand touches his shoulder, Devon's pulling it away. "There's nothing wrong," he states again, no less cold or detached. "I need to finish lunch, my boss will be expecting me soon." Partly true, and far easier to manage than explaining anything to strangers. His hand stretches out and presses the button for the elevator, once Graeme has moved away. His eyes slant toward the man, following him while he waits on the doors to open.

Savannah lets out a sigh, looking towards Devon. She parts her lips as if to speak, but doesn't, instead quietly heading back over to the water fountain to get herself another drink. She glances over between the two, shrugging her shoulders.

Graeme just watches Devon. "Alright, then." He for one won't push the issue. The skateboard in hand, he moves to lean next to the water fountain, though he waits for Savannah to finish her drink of water before speaking, and in a tone that should by all means be too quiet for Devon to hear once he is in the elevator. "You tried. All you could do."

Wordlessly, when the doors finally open, Devon only stares at opening. It's not until the doors are almost closing that he starts to move again. Too late to actually get into the elevator, he presses a hand to the doors, fingers curling. He turns, still not speaking, and presses his own back to the elevator doors. The teenager's gaze lifts first to Savannah and then to Graeme, detachment still evident, unwillingness to explain himself plain. But he didn't run away.

Savannah looks back over towards Graeme. "I know. He just seems like… I don't know. I've got too much sympathy, I guess. I know if I went around looking like that I'd wish I had someone to talk to. I'd jump at a chance like that. Especially at that age." She watches as the doors shut and Devon doesn't disappear. She looks at him for a long moment. "Thought your boss was expecting you back."

"Yeah." Devon rubs a hand through his hair, settling his focus at a point away from the water fountain yet allowing him to see the two through his periphery vision. "He is… eventually. I'll… I'm sorry. I'm… it's been a long week, and the one before that was…" Hell, would be putting it nicely. "It's just… rough. I'm fine, though. Thanks. Thank you, for your concern."

"I know how that can be. But when you say you're fine, do you mean it, or are you just saying it. Because you don't sound so great." Savannah says, glancing back to Devon. She looks at him intently, moving to put her hands into her pockets. "Again… I'm here if you need it."

Graeme offers Devon a glance, long, not probing. It's a silent repetition of Savannah's offer. "Whatever it is," Graeme says. "You don't need to be sorry."

"Again, thank you." Devon glances toward the two, the gratitude also in his gaze. "I've got… It's fine. Really." One shoulder draws up into a shrug. Then, in fashion to deflect attention from himself, he addresses Savannah. "What kind of author are you?"

"The kind who writes," Savannah says, smugly, glancing back towards Devon. "And I believe we were talking about you, not about me or my books. Have you eaten? You said it's your lunch break."

"You're welcome," Graeme responds. He looks past Savannah, not particularly at Devon. He lets the pause linger into a slightly longer silence, but his words were gentle enough. The only indication that Graeme gives of his own struggle is that he chews his lower lip, which might as well be perpetually bloody for all he does so. And for all his words about talking, he's not about to follow his own advice.

"I've eaten," the teenager states flatly. While he is young, he isn't a child and despite everything else hasn't done too horribly taking care of himself. "And if I find I'm hungry later, after I go back to work, there's food at the studio." Or near it anyway. There is food available. Back to deflecting, Devon asks, "What kind of writing do you do?"

There's a slight sigh. Savannah didn't mean to make it sound like he didn't take care of herself, she was just going to mention she had food upstairs they could have. Her gaze flickers to Graeme for a long moment, then back to Devon. He's deflecting, so she might as well lobby an an answer. "I do some sci-fi, alternate universe type stuff. I think it's pretty cool, but it's not everyone's cup of tea."

Devon nods, unapologetic for his assumptions, and showing some interest in the answer. "I read some sci-fi in high school. Mostly preferred fantasy novels, though. Good way to pass time between classes." His eyes shift toward Graeme as well, then back to Savannah. "Sometimes comics, but… mostly I prefer books."

"I've got another one coming out in April. Starting another trilogy… already started on the second, but I don't have a publication date for it yet," Savannah says, glancing back to Devon. "This one's focusing on some teenagers just coming into learning about abilities they have."

This perks Graeme's interest, to Savannah. "Hell of an author that'll write about that," Graeme says. "Sometimes I wish someone'd written about it, back when I was a teen." He's making a conscious effort not to bite his lip. "Good on you."

"That sounds like it could be …insightful." Devon frowns faintly, not sure if that's truly the word he wishes to use. He's not sure, exactly, how one comes into their abilities, let alone learning about them. "Bet the series will be a best seller, though."

"Well, my first series was on the best seller's list, although some governmental types aren't fond of the fact that I'm a bit anti-registration in some of them," Savannah gives a smile to Graeme. "Kind of exactly the reason I wrote them, though. No one's writing about these things. At least, in a serious manner, that is. I know if I was developing an ability I'd be scared as hell."

Graeme nods. "No, most people aren't writing about that at all." He pauses, and addresses Savannah. "I live up in five-oh-two," he says, the southwestern drawl coming out. "Maybe at some point, we can talk. I … I taught high school, a while. Besides my own ability, I've seen a fair few kids come into their own." He stares up at the ceiling, reflexively swallowing. Every teacher's nightmare, but he's not mentioning that aloud right now. Just biting his lip until it passes, for the moment.

"Yeah, got to be kind of a scary thing to happen," Devon says quietly, focusing on Savannah briefly. Considering. Then he looks away again, picking out that spot on the floor to stare at. "Not sure I'm particularly looking forward to that day." It's said to himself, and replied to with his left shoulder raising and falling. "Still does sound like a good topic."

Savannah offers Graeme a smile. "Two-oh-one. And you're welcome to come by anytime to talk. I'd love to hear your insight. I do a lot of interviews with people to get information for my books." Her gaze moves back to Devon. "Same goes to you. You're welcome to come by and chat anytime."

"Of course." There's another reflexive swallow from Graeme. Involuntary, grief and guilt pushed back, down, away. He's not good at following the advice he gives in the slightest. There's a nod, and then a bit of a smile for Devon, and then Graeme's moving away, towards the door out to the street. "I should get going," he says, skateboard in hand, turning back to look at Savannah and Devon.

Devon's gaze lifts enough to watch Graeme leave. He doesn't bother trying to stop the man. He doesn't care for when people try to stop him. "Later, Graeme," he calls, just loud enough to follow after the man. His eyes then turn to Savannah and another nod is offered. "Thanks… Might… I'll give it some thought." It's not evasive, but honest. "… I'm Devon, by the way."

There's another concerned look from Savannah. She's giving Graeme the same look she was giving Devon earlier. Yeah, there's something wrong, but he's locking it up. "Well, I do hope you'll come and talk then. Or I'll just drop by sometime." After all, she does know where he lives. She glances to Devon. "Savannah Burton. It's nice to meet you, Devon."

Graeme turns around faster when he sees the look Savannah is leveling at him, walking at a steady pace towards the door.

There is only so long that he can bite back the guilt and the personal grief of the past, and by the time that he reaches the door to the outside, Graeme's shoulders shake slightly. He pushes through the door regardless, sets the skateboard on the ground when the door closes behind him. The chill bite of air against his face is more than welcome, and he shifts his weight to the skateboard.

As he pushes off down the street, there's a last glance spared for the two he left in the lobby. And then he's gone.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License