Mission Impossible


avi_icon.gif devon_icon.gif

Scene Title Mission Impossible
Synopsis It's the least likely place to go for advice, but Devon goes to Avi anyway.
Date December 19, 2018

The Bunker

Avi Epstein's Dorm

Barely more than a day has passed since returning to Rochester. It’s hardly enough time attempt anything, but plenty of time to think. Devon had gone along with Richard’s plans, fully accepting what the cost of his involvement would be. He’s doubtful that making it right was even possible. However, failure is rarely an option without trying first. But even without the implications from Avi, he didn’t know what to do. A long hour was spent staring at the gift, still wrapped but moved to his desk and the handwritten note that accompanied it held in one hand but forgotten, before a decision was made.

Make it right.

The note is left beside the gift, as he leaves his room.

The young man’s feet carry him purposefully down the familiar hallway, boots echoing off the walls as he walks past identical doors with little to differentiate one from the next. Except for the number placard, designating which in the sequence he’s nearest. His eyes follow the numbers as he moves by, then flick to the next as it comes within view. When he finally stops, it’s in front of one, a familiar door but still without anything to tell it apart from the others.

The last time he’d been here, it had been to fill it with balloons as a sort of prank. This time…

Devon’s hand raises and knocks soundly against the door. As his hand falls to his side, he steps back to wait.

There's silence for long enough that Devon feels like Avi is intentionally making whomever knocked on the door wait. It's true. Shuffling footsteps come after the scrape of chair legs on concrete, and the Commander of Wolfhound slowly cracks open the door, sighs on seeing who is there, and then opens it the rest of the way.

“You are just a bad fucking penny, aren't you?” Avi grouses, hand still on the doorknob and no motion made to let Devon in. Behind Avi, Devon can see his room is a disaster. Far more cluttered than the last time he was in there, bed unmade, bottles of liquor open on the table in the middle of the room.

“This better be about your job,” Avi states flatly, “you know. The thing we pay you to do?” They've been together this long that Devon knows when Avi is trying to push his buttons, trying to make him be the one to leave.

Devon’s attention remains on the door, watching but not with easy patience. Being made to stand gives him plenty of time to begin second guessing himself. Arms fold across his chest while he waits, a habit that keeps his hands from burrowing into his pockets. It isn't much better, but it seems less sullen and nervous somehow.

He reaches for the door again, to knock a second time, but that hand falls to his side along with the other when the door opens. The state of the room isn't unnoticed,but he keeps his attention on the commander. “I've been called that a few times,” he quips before he can stop himself.

“It's not. Look.” Dev’s brows knit a little. He hadn't really thought through what he was actually going to say — he'd also partly expected Avi to close the door without saying two words. However, the door is open. “First. I'm sorry about the balloons. And whatever you think about me and Emily, it's not something to get back at you. It never was.”

“I try not to think about it.” Avi says, flinging the door open the rest of the way as he turns back into his quarters, leaving it open at his back. “You don’t get it is the problem,” he says with a level of frustration, running one hand over the top of his head. Avi’s limping gait takes him to the table in the middle of the room, chair drawn out, and he settles into it with a creaking awkwardness and fatigue.

“The balloons were clever,” is something Devon never thought he’d hear Avi say. “My grabbing you and Lucille was because I like you two. I don’t run people I don’t like and don’t trust through an exercise like that. But also I wanted to make sure you fucking remember to respect the chain of command. You pull that shit with Hana and she’s likely to bury you up to your neck in sand and leave you for the ants.” She’s not, but Avi loves playing her up.

“Look,” Avi exhales a ragged sigh, “I freaked out when I saw you and Em together. She’s…” he looks down to his lap, “literally the only good thing I’ve ever done with my whole fucking life, and the less I’m involved in it the better.” Shaking his head, he looks up to Devon. “I flew off the handle at you. Said shit I didn’t mean. I’m good at that. But kid,” that stressed look comes back, “I swear to christ if you’re intending on dating my daughter, that’s going to fuck the chain of command up.”

Spreading his hands, Avi draws in a deep breath. “How’m I supposed to seem impartial? How’re the others going to see the way I treat you, the opportunities I give you? Hana has a hard enough time with Noa.” He leans one elbow on the table, slouching tiredly. “But how’m I not going to fuck up her life if I push the people she cares about away from her?”

At that, Avi looks up at Devon, inquisitively.

The open door is regarded as a courtesy and not a full invitation into the secret world of the commander. As the older man retreats to a chair further inside the apartment, Devon moves after him but only so far as to nudge the door partially closed. He stays standing, and not too far from the entry for now.

Surprise causes a brow to tick upward a little, and a twitch at his mouth proves he’s trying to not grin at the prank being called clever. He sobers as the commander continues, brows pulling down slightly. When Avi runs out of words, he meets the look, and it’s fairly obvious that he’s mulling over everything.

“Water under the bridge,” he offers first. He’d already put the reaction at the diner behind him and moved on. “Maybe it’ll be something we can laugh over in the future.” His tone stays respectful, even with the small poke at humor. As for Emily, he hesitates a while longer on that subject.

“You let whatever merit or ability I have speak for itself when you make those decisions,” the young man eventually suggests. Even if the other Hounds have seen him working, it still isn’t a perfect solution, and he knows it. Looking down, Devon scrubs a hand against the back of his neck, then lets both arms fold against his chest. “But honestly, sir, what’s between me and her to figure out is between me and her. It’s got nothing to do with you or your command.”

“It’s got fucking everything to do with my command,” Avi says as a disgruntled mumble, more so than anything. “You fuck this up and hurt her— You know I’m not great at impartiality. It’s been decades since I was in a real military, and I played favorites in the Agency. Even fucking now I pull strings for some of you shits that I shouldn’t. If you hurt her?” Avi shakes his head. “You being in her orbit changes things.”

Then, with his hands spread, he adds. “And what if you get your ass shot off, on a mission I send you on? I’m gonna’ be the one having to eat shit and tell her somebody she cares about it dead because of me.” Scrubbing a hand at his mouth, Avi draws in a deep breath. “So do I just bench you? Send you on fluff assignments?” Not that Wolfhound has those. “This is the shit that’s keeping me up at night, right now. Your merit ain’t got anything t’do with what you look like in a pine box, and whose fault Em thinks that is.”

Shaking his head and frowning, Avi slowly pulls his attention from the floor. “So what was on your mind?”

“You’re wrong,” Devon counters quietly as he shakes his head. “The only thing that’s changed is you know. Were it my choice, you would’ve found out a different way and we could’ve been adults about it. But I’m not going to hurt her. And if I die on some mission, you really think she’s going to blame you?” He slants a look to Avi, brows pushing upward. In spite of the seriousness, there might be the faintest grin touching his face. “She’s going to find any way she can to bring me back to life — and she will find it — just so she can kill me herself for making her worry.”

He sighs and pushes a shoulder up slightly. “Just let us figure it out first, before you go jumping to conclusions about things. Have I ever made so terrible an error that it put everything in jeopardy?”

Letting that question sit a moment, Devon looks away from Avi. He doesn’t really examine the room or let his eyes wander, but he picks some point on a wall to look at before getting to his reason for visiting. “Given your high opinion of the matter… I’m not sure who else to talk to. You know she’s pissed, right? That I’d’ve helped Richard to…” He trails off, deciding to drop the details, and looks at the commander again. “How do I make it right?”

A horrible, rueful bark of a laugh erupts from Avi, followed by a wheeze and a slow shake of his head as he rakes fingers through his hair. “Jesus Christ, kid, you came to the wrong person to ask that.” Avi can’t help but smile, flutter with nervous laughter, in spite of the seriousness of the question.

“I fucked up my relationship with her from before she was even born,” Avi admits, scrubbing a hand at his cheek. “Dev, I haven’t been able to make that right for her entire life. I don’t know if I ever can except for when I kick off and all she’s eventually got left of me are hopefully a couple of fond memories and not a lifetime of scars.”

Grimacing, Avi looks back down to the floor. “I left you that note because I didn’t have the answers that you need.

Devon smirks and shakes his head at the laughter. “Yeah. Well I thought I’d start with you because my options are…” He hesitates over naming names and supplements with a wave of his hand vaguely toward the hall. There are other doors he could have knocked on within the Bunker, and a few even inside the Safe Zone.

Turning that hand from motioning behind him to rubbing his neck, he makes a face. “I didn’t think any of them would be helpful. Just a lot of advice that’ll probably be signing my death warrant. At least, going to you, you’re going to be brutally honest with your opinions.” Which is something he’s always appreciated, since finding his footing within the organization, even if it’s led to disagreements at times.

“I’ll figure it out,” he decides. Dev’s shoulders roll through another shrug as his arm drops to his side.

Avi sighs again, this time softer and less frustrated. “Kid,” he grumbles, shifting in his seat. “All she wants is to matter. She’s been everybody’s fucking afterthought her whole life.” It’s hard for Avi to admit that, and it shows in his tight expression. “She’s been a burden to everyone. Or— she feels like she’s been. Em’s been sick her whole life. She’s never had normal.”

Raising his hands, helplessly, Avi shrugs. “I don’t know normal, Dev. I don’t do normal. But you’re young enough. Maybe you could. Maybe you could give her what she’s never had.” He looks away, back down to the floor, to the past. “Maybe you could make her feel special, without it being forced.”

“She matters to me.” Devon is firm on that, even though he looks a little amazed to be saying it aloud. Even though he’d just argued his stance that it shouldn’t change anything amongst the chain of command. “She’s never been an afterthought, or even a burden. I do get it, your concern about having to go tell her I’m not coming back. But it makes it that much more important that I do come back.”

He nods thoughtfully at the suggestion, the idea that there could be a normal in a world that certainly isn’t and hasn’t been normal. How to connect with Emily now is still a mystery, but one he understands he’ll have to solve on his own. But he’s got a place to start. Looking up at Avi, the young man nods again. “Yeah… Maybe.”

Grunting, Avi waves a hand dismissively. “Don't fucking yeah, maybe me. Get the fuck on your feet and tell her. Because if I bring home a box of kindling and say here's Devon, sorry, I don't want her last memory of you being pissed.

Avi looks down to the floor, distant. “She can be mad at me.”

For several seconds, Devon stares at Avi, taking the older man’s words to heart. He dips his head forward, acknowledging the fact. This isn’t a maybe moment, there’s no more dodging around facts. It’s time to jump into the deep end. “Yes sir,” he adds as he lifts his head. Feet shift and he straightens to leave. There’s a phone call to make.

Except he doesn’t leave right away. His eyes remain on Avi, with brows knitted. He starts to speak, but the first words end up being a weird sound in his throat. There’s no advice he can offer, nor does he have assurances for the parent-child relationship, though he wishes there were anything he could say. Instead, he steps forward and offers his hand to the commander, as a handshake that implies an understanding and offers a closer friendship.

Avi’s regretted handshakes like this before, but as he reaches out to take Devon’s there’s no sign of his usual wariness. Just an unveiled threat in his one good eye.

Don’t screw this up.

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