No Coming Back From This


devon_icon.gif emily4_icon.gif

Scene Title No Coming Back From This
Synopsis Emily Epstein's cell phone rings and rings.
Date January 3, 2019

Dec 18, 8:39 pm
<Hey… can you talk?>
8:51 pm
<I'm sorry that I got involved the way I did>

Dec 19 6:42 pm
1 Missed Call: That Idiot

Dec 20, 10:07 am
<Are you there?>
<Please let me explain>

Dec 22, 10:21 am
<I'm staying at Jared's over Christmas>
10:29 am
<Can we get together?>

Dec 24, 7:43 pm
1 Missed Call: That Idiot
7:49 pm
<At least let me know you're okay?>

Dec 25, 11:46 am
1 Missed Call: That Idiot
11:48 am
<Merry Christmas>

Dec 27, 9:22 am
1 Missed Call: That Idiot
9:27 am
<I'm leaving for Rochester in a couple hours>
9:30 am
<I know you're angry>
<You're right to be>
9:36 am
<I wish you'd answer>
10:03 am
<I miss you>

Dec 29, 4:32 pm
1 Missed Call: That Idiot

Dec 30, 5:20 pm

Dec 31, 11:47 pm
<Happy New Year early>

Jan 1, 1:57 pm
<Please call me>

Jan 3, 7:28 pm
» Incoming Call: That Idiot

Perhaps unexpectedly, the line connects.

"Fuck off, Devon."
"Lose my number."

It's all she says before hanging up. Her voice is like a knife, sharp and to the point.

Or like glass — jagged, broken, with that same willingness to cut.

There should be some thrill of relief that he'd gotten an answer, even if it wasn't the sort he'd want. Anything is better than the nothing he'd expected. But the words cut deeper than Devon expected, especially after two weeks of radio silence. It takes him a second to form a hasty reply.

"Please just—"

The words fail along with the call, and he lets his hand and phone drop onto the desk he's seated at. For a long moment, he stares at the screen that's already gone dark. As he stares, his fingers curl slowly around the phone, tightening until the edges bite against his skin and the screen might buckle under the pressure.

A breath later, he forces his hand to open and thumbs the screen on.

7:32 pm
<I need to talk to you>
<Please just give me a chance>
7:34 pm
<If you still want me to go after, I'll respect that>
<But I can't leave this alone>
<I care about you too much to just let it go>

It takes a painfully long time for a response to come through, but one does that very night. A single message.

«We don't always get what we want, Dev.»

Five minutes pass, and then ten and eventually near the twenty minute mark, Devon sets his phone aside. He'll try again tomorrow. He scrubs at his face with his hands, then looks at the papers in front of him. But his head isn't in the work details, and so most if it is hardly touched as the minutes and hours crawl by.

His head has come to rest in his hands again when his phone buzzes. At first, he stares down at the screen and feeds a tiny flicker of hope. Picking up the phone, he starts a reply.

10:17 pm
<Believe me. I know that better than you can imagine.>
<I betrayed your trust. I don't even have a good reason for why and I wouldn't blame you if you never forgive me>

Devon studies the screen, fingers hovering over the keypad. After a minute, he starts typing again.

10:19 pm
<You're amazing and capable>
<I should've stayed out instead of letting Richard talk me into tricking you>

10:20 pm
«You should have.»

A pair of minutes later, the phone vibrates in his hand, jumping to life unexpectedly. The screen brightens, any reply disappearing with an overriding screen, an overriding message.

Incoming Call: Em

"Yeah." Devon sighs out the word. His thumb hovers above the screen, intending to wait and give Emily time to say more. He isn't expecting the call that comes in and fumbles with answering it. One, two, third try gets it answered.

"Emily." Dev's voice fades in, sounding relieved and worried at the same time. "Emily. I'm sorry."

She has to close her eyes to keep from her breath giving her away. It's hitched from the moment she hears his voice pass through the line to her. In the intervening silence, water builds up behind her eyes. Her jaw works, an entire range of responses kept close to her heart. Only one is teased away from the rest, enunciated clearly after a short inhale, framed against a backdrop of hurt.

"You fucked up."

Emily shakes her head, tears streaming freely down her face while she continues to carefully hold her breath. More crisply: "Talk. Get it out of your system."

His brows furrow with a strange kind of fear when it's silence that answers him first. Devon presses the phone hard against his hear in an effort to hear better what's happening on the other end. He makes a noise, the start of a question to make sure she's still on the line with him, that dies as soon as she speaks.

"Yeah." He fucked up. With his free hand, he drags his fingers through his hair and scrubs at his scalp.

"I did it because I agreed with Richard that family is important." For as little as he's ever spoken about family, even with his own mishmash of people he considers to be family, Devon's never swayed from that point. "I knew you'd be angry. I knew what I was risking and… I did it anyway because I wanted to help you have a chance to tell your dad how you feel. I know I shouldn't've gone along with it. It's just… seeing you hurt and angry at the things he's done…"

"What did you expect would happen?" she replies immediately, aggressively. "That we'd make up right away and hug it out? That he'd walk out of there changed, or apologize for any of it? That I would either?" A sardonic laugh escapes her. "Or did you expect we'd just get it out of our systems by hurting each other over and over with the things we've both done wrong?"

"I don't know which scenario is worse. How was that supposed to fix anything?"

It's a good question, as well as one that probably doesn't have an answer. The tension burning in her throat and chest threatens to come out in a sob, so she keeps speaking in the hopes to stave it off.

"I trusted you.

"I opened up to you."

"I was letting you in."

"I trusted you, Devon."

And no one appears to regret that more than Emily.

"I don't know." Devon's answer is right on the heels of her first question, desperate. As she continues he stands, twisting away from his chair to pace through his room. "I don't know. I don't know what was supposed to happen, what Richard thought would happen."

He drops his head against a wall when his path takes him to it. His eyes squeeze shut as a way to bottle the despair at her next words contained.

Dev's voice is strained with heartache anyway when he speaks again after a few seconds. "I know… I know you did." He presses his head against the wall and wraps his free arm around it. When he speaks again, it's with a sense of defeat. "I never told him anything. He knew, but not because of me."

Swaying to one side, Emily closes her eyes again. She sounds exhausted as she breathes out, "I don't know what you're talking about." Her tone suggests she's in no mood or state to guess.

"I didn't tell Richard anything." Devon turns away from the wall to cross his room again. "He knew, because he's apparently friends with Avi." There should be some dark, satirical humor in that statement, but it falls flat with defeat when he says it.

"I showed up at Raytech unannounced looking for you back in October. I'm sure he went and assumed on his own — that you'd be the best way to—" Emily heaves a deep sigh, trying to try not to be weighed down by the pit in her chest. "And it fucking worked, didn't it?"

Another rhetorical. She leans forward on her elbow, cradling her brow with the tips of her fingers.

Each breath hurts. This entire time she'd been angry with Richard directly to avoid addressing these feelings in particular. Trying to sort through them hurt like dealing with an exotic thornbush barehanded. Hearing him made it worse, leaving her trapped in the middle of it instead of being able to break through to the other side. But she tries to, regardless of what lies there. "What else?"

Even if she were expecting an answer, he doesn't have one. Silence follows those questions except for a staticky creak when he sinks into his chair again. Devon exhales slowly and drops his head against the back of the chair. "I'm sorry, Emily. I'm sorry that I messed it all up. That I hurt you most of all."

Emily tries to hide her soft sob as a laugh, to steel herself behind anger and sarcasm and things that would recreate distance, but it's impossible. She slides her thumb to the mute button instead, corner of her phone pressed into the center of her forehead once that's done, and her shoulders shake in near-silence.

She shouldn't have picked up the phone.

Still, the timer ticks up on the length of the conversation, second by second. The line stays connected. Instead of the sound of Emily's voice, a soft chime alert plays in Devon's ear.

«You know there's no coming back from this, right?»

The phone clatters on her desk after she sends it, head in her hands while she listens to the speaker.

"Emily…" His voice is quiet but reaching, responding to the pained sound. Nothing follows and in the silence Dev holds his breath, waiting. The aching burn that builds in his chest barely registers as he stares up at the ceiling. If he could take it all back, go to the moment when the idea was brought up, he would without hesitating. The chime against his head pulls his brows together.

The phone is lowered from his ear and a confused look is placed on the screen as he reads the text. His eyes squeeze shut, as though the act may be a buffer against the words on the screen. "I'm so sorry," he says on an anguished exhale.

"You're the best thing that's happened to me," he says after a few seconds. His voice cracks with fresh pain. And he ruined it. He takes an uneven breath before continuing. "I can't …there aren't words to say how much I care about you." He can only hope she's listening, and that she believes him.

Long seconds again tick by again with only silence from his end. Devon leans forward until his head touches the edge of his desk. The phone still rests against his ear in hope that she'll speak again. "Please, Emily." One more chance.

At some point, her head has sunk into a puddle with her arms. Hands tightened into fists curled around her sleeves, she cringes from the lances of heartache that intensify with each thing he says. She rocks in place, anything she says into the crevice of her arms lost to the muted air.

His plea for a response causes a slow lift of her head, eyes red and face flushed. Without bothering to wipe her nose and cheeks, she reaches for the phone and props herself up on her elbows, staring down at the screen with a vacant expression. It's loosely cradled, liable to fall again, and wobbles in her grasp as she's at a loss for what to say.

It would be a simple thing to write him off, to block and forget. Her expression crumples as she considers that choice, her hand tightening around the phone like it's him she's holding onto.

But she can't forgive him, either.

10:31 pm
«Why couldn't you have trusted me, Dev?»
10:32 pm
«How am I supposed to know nothing like this will ever happen again?»
«Promise me. Promise me it won't.»

As the phone alerts him to another message, he reluctantly lowers it from his ear so he can look at the screen. Eyes open, and his head comes off the desk to find the words that wait for him. Devon flinches at the texts, but there's no hiding from the truth that glows boldly back up at him. His heart sinks a little more until he finds the final message.

"It never will," he says, again raising the phone while he speaks. It's a tiny spark of hope, but he holds onto it like a lifeline. "I promise you. I swear on my parents' graves, on Liz's grave, it's never going to happen again."

"That's a pretty serious swear." Emily hoarsely whispers near the receiver, off of mute again. Her natural tendency is to doubt, but she tentatively accepts his word. Her eyes close momentarily to brace herself before she looks back at the screen, adjusting her grip on it. She takes in a deep breath, nose cleared with a sniff, and exhales it out slowly. "If you ever get the urge to go behind my back about anything again," she says softly, a tapping noise heard through the receiver. "… don't."

Even while she speaks, another message come through.

10:33 pm
«Merry Christmas.»

"If you ever have something you need to talk to me about, you talk with me about it like a normal person."

10:33 pm
«Happy New Year.»

"This isn't me forgiving you. I don't know what it is."

10:33 pm
«I miss you too.»

There's a long pause before she admits, "I'm surprised you're still alive, honestly. Or not in a cast. Are you in a cast?"

"I'm being pretty serious," Dev counters softly. Any other time it would probably be accompanied with a grin. This time, though, his head rests in his hand and his words carry the weight of a spoken oath. She can't see the nod he offers when she continues and he goes silent again, but maybe the light rustling sound hints at it. On his side, he's pressing his hand to his eyes and taking a deep breath.

He takes a second to tilt his screen down to see the messages. He touches the phone to his forehead, eyes closing. It may be a serious swear, but it's one he's even promising himself to keep.

Her next words pull him back from his thoughts, and he puts the phone back to his ear. "Not today," Devon answers with a touch of weak humor in his tone. "At least for the next week everything is in normal working order."

"Yeah?" Emily asks faintly, coming to sit upright. The phone is swung around tenderly back to her ear again and she wipes her face with her free hand. Sense tells her to hang up before she forgets to remember to keep her distance, but she can't help but wonder at the same time. "What happens after that?"

"We've got a mission coming up." Devon leans back in his chair and stares at the papers littering his desk. "I don't have details yet, but something's coming up. I can't even guess at what we're moving in on…" He sighs and lets his eyes wander up to the ceiling. "I'll call you soon as I find out anything."

"Oh," Emily breathes, her hand falling from her face back to her lap. Her brow furrows, trying to judge if that's serious. Worry doesn't bother coming in just yet, but she is surprised. "Yeah. Okay." Her eyes are wandering. She pushes back away from her desk and stands, rubbing her palm against her thigh. Attention goes automatically to a window that's now boarded up, and thus unable to be seen through. She frowns thoughtfully at it and adjusts the curtain back over it to cover it completely.

"I start class tomorrow," she offers up softly. "Courses started back up today, but I have Thursdays off." It's a small thing. Inconsequential to mention, she tells herself. Her brow furrows deeper.

"Wow, that's really great." It is really great, and Devon sounds happy for Emily. He twists around so he can look across the room to the blue numbers dimly glowing on the clock face beside his bed. "I guess it's late…" He stands so he can cross the room and hopefully keep the reluctance from his voice. "You probably want to make sure you get a decent night's sleep before classes."

It's how Emily had meant to cut off the conversation almost as soon as it started, but neglected to. Still standing by the boarded window, her fingers toy with the edge of the curtain. "I should," she agrees, because she has no reason not to.

It's an out. It's one she should take.

The phone is held a little tighter in her grip. "Dev?"

"Yeah?" Dev's aimless pacing stops near his dresser, and he fits his toes into one of his shoes just enough to drag it away from the other.

Emily waits, seeing if her heart is willing to give any last leeway to the evening. Silence lingers, to her, comfortably. Realizing nothing more will come, she just smiles apologetically, even though he can't see it. Perhaps he can hear it, in the small shift of breath. It's faded already by the time she says, "Good night."

The silence isn't a heavy thing this time, it isn't crushing, and Devon waits. He stares at the shoe he'd pulled out without really seeing it, somewhere forgotten as soon as he'd spoken again. When she does speak again, he smiles faintly and nods.

"Good night, Em."

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