Not a News Flash


elisabeth2_icon.gif graeme2_icon.gif

Scene Title Not a News Flash
Synopsis Teenagers are just plain stupid sometimes. And parenting is turning out to be nothing like teaching, especially when you gain the teenager as a teenager.
Date August 24, 2011

Skinny Brickfront: Basement

Come the end of evening, the basement is quiet and empty save for Graeme, who is not so much contemplating the punching bag that hangs in one corner as maintaining a continuous dance with the punching bag on the other side. He could have gone to his apartment at Dorchester for this, or to the gym, or any number of places, but he's frequently enough found at the safehouse in any case. One earbud blasts music, the other one simply hangs over his shoulder, and off-key as ever, he hums along to the Linkin Park song coming from his iPod. Still, there's a vague pause when he hears the footsteps at the top of the stairs, and he moves so that he'll be able to see who it is coming down.

The person moving down the steps is doing with With Purpose. The blonde is wearing jeans and a black tanktop, her long hair loose. And she's got The Face. The one that sends most people skittering out of her path so as not to bear the brunt of whatever has pissed her off. Elisabeth's pulling the pistol at the back of her waistband out even as she walks. She takes one glance toward Graeme's location, verifies that there is no one else in the basement and then takes a stance at the makeshift firing range to empty her clip into the 'target' at the far end. The shots are in quick succession, muted only enough to keep everyone from going deaf. Her jaw is clenched tight.

Graeme, however, isn't most people, though he doesn't pause in his own workout, save to keep an eye on Liz. He's never been dissuaded easily, and a frown of worry crosses his face. Somewhere in between fluid and practised movements the iPod is shut off and put into his pocket, though he keeps humming along with the song that is no longer there. It's only after Liz has finished firing and paused that Graeme stops, stilling the punching bag and moving over to the small spool table that holds his shirt, a towel, and a water bottle. "What happened?" It's a question, but it's as much a demand to know, and he's not about to take no for an answer.

Firing the 13-round magazine into the target at the end has at least pacified some of the lingering adrenaline. Elisabeth sets the gun down on the spool before turning to face Graeme, her blue eyes stormy with anger. "Devon's grounded. Or something equally suitable. Until I decide whether I'm going to kill him." Her response is far more 'frustrated guardian' than anything else despite the fact that she's not the boy's parent or guardian. The teen has come to mean a lot to her and she figures Graeme, as a fellow teacher, will understand to some degree.

"I know teenagers are just plain stupid sometimes. Seriously, it's not a news flash. But the boy walks the worst parts of town on a regular basis just … to walk. Did you know that? Because I sure as fuck didn't. And so this evening, we took a walk together, just to hang out. One of his 'usual' routes. And damn near got ourselves fucking gang raped by creeps hanging in the empty lots." Elisabeth's frustration is clear. "If he's taking that kind of risk constantly, what the fuck are we out here trying to change? I mean, hell, Graeme… if he wants to spend his time in a fucking wasteland, why bother??"

Not only that, but Graeme also knows that the adults at the safehouse are pretty much the only adult influences in Devon's life, and certainly the most steady, if not stable. He certainly feels equally protective of the teenager at times, even if Devon doesn't tolerate it from him nearly as well as he does from Liz. Hands clench into fists and there is a moment where he turns around and kicks the punching bag one more time, before coming to complete rest. "Hell," he mutters, walking over to stand near Liz before fidgeting with the silver pendant that hangs around his neck.

Another pause of contemplation, and he looks over at Liz. "It probably didn't occur to him that walking with you would be different than walking by himself," he says. After all, Graeme knows well enough the feeling of not caring, the theoretical teenaged invulnerability that inspires risk-taking such as that. "And no, you will not kill him," Graeme adds, "but as long as he is grounded he's not going to have time to do anything but think about why it different."

"I am assuming that I will not kill him, but you know what? I'm so furious right now, I can't see straight. It doesn't matter whether he's walking alone or with me, those are not the kind of places he ought to be killing time, Graeme!" Elisabeth protests. "What am I doing here if wandering in the worst parts of town is what he does for fun? Christ!" She shoves a hand through her hair, and says, "I don't want him confined…. but Jesus! The kid has a future. He's got brains, he's been considering college. I'm within half an inch of sending him to my father and asking Dad to see what he can do about getting Devon out of the country and out to someplace like Jaiden's place in Australia for university. He needs something constructive to do."

Graeme nods, before hugging Liz tightly for a long moment. "I'm not disagreeing on that." A shrug comes up, afterward, and Graeme's words reflect an equal amount of frustration, albeit tempered by understanding. "But he's at about that age where he thinks he can do anything, get away with anything. He's big enough that no one is going to bother him if he's by himself, so as far as he's concerned why shouldn't he go to those parts of town? You and I both know, yes, but Devon doesn't." Graeme bounces on his heels before continuing to speak. "On the other hand I'm pretty sure I know how to drill it into him such that he won't not know in the future."

Wrapping her arm around Graeme, she lets him pull her in for the hug. Elisabeth holds him tightly and when he loosens his grip she remains with her head resting on his shoulder. "Part of me …. realizes that it's hypocritical," she admits softly. "He's lived through the Dome, he's lived through being here with all of us. But…. " She pauses and then confesses, "I want him to have a life. Of all the people here…. he's the one that inspires me to keep on trying to make things better. Because none of us may live to see it, but … he deserves better than what he's seen at his age." She grimaces.

"And he wants to have a part in making it that way, too," Graeme says. This much he knows from his conversations with Devon in the past. One arm wraps around Liz's shoulder, and there's a faint sigh. "And he's had to grow up all too fast to begin with, but." Graeme falls silent, struggling to find the words for exactly what he wants to say, for a moment. When he continues, there's a hint of sadness in his voice. "But he needs to get past this particular stage of being a teenage boy, past being invulnerable and right and truly overconfident. I remember feeling like that. Hell, especially right after I manifested, but it's not sustainable."

There's a moment where Elisabeth is quiet, and then she starts to laugh softly. "It makes me wonder how the hell I dealt with Joshua. And whether… any of those strategies would work with Devon," she admits. "Devon might be the closest I'll ever get to having kids at this point. I'd…. really like to help him survive to adulthood."

Graeme nods. "From what I know, I wasn't there for my kid in that future." Or for the mother of his child, beyond the beginning of things. He leaves out the other details that he knows, like who the mother is, the rest of the circumstances provided by the dream. "I was too busy fighting with the Ferry and doing things, to be a parent for very much of the time, even once I was." There's a small amount of guilt in his voice, that doesn't go away, and he wraps both arms around Liz's shoulders to hug her tightly again.

Elisabeth blinks and pulls away to look up at him, a grin playing about her lips. The dream she had tells her all she needed to know about that and she hugs him tightly. "So don't be that guy if it ever happens for you in this timeline," she murmurs. "God knows… Richard's been doing his best not to be THAT guy."

Graeme smiles faintly, before kissing Liz on the forehead. "Thanks," he responds, quiet. Even if there's a part of him that doesn't know how he'd ever do anything but what he did, a part of him that's absolutely terrified at the idea of being a parent at all. "Yeah, that's all we can do. Do our best, and such." He grins. "Now, just to double-check, I do have your permission to kick Devon's ass six ways from Sunday at least once, yes?"

"Christ, yes," Elisabeth breathes. "Because I don't know what the hell to do with him. I'm too close to it. All I could think of was how bad I wanted to shake him to death." She sighs. "I think I better read up on parenting teenagers. It's not the same thing as being a teacher at all!"

"So we're finding out," Graeme says, the faint smile growing into a full grin for a moment. "For one, when you're just their teacher you don't live with them. You only have to deal with them in the classroom, and some of the time out of it, not everything. Everything's a lot more." One final squeeze and he pulls away, walking back over to the spool table to pull on his teeshirt, a sigh as he runs his hand through his hair. "Wish me luck," he murmurs, lingering a moment longer. "In not outright just strangling him."

Elisabeth actually chuckles. "Good luck," she tells him. "I'd love to know how I handled Joshua's rebellions," she admits quietly. "I wish I knew more about… his life. How he thinks about things." She smiles a little. "I guess like most of us, I want to know what kind of parent I was. But… I guess the fact that he came back at all is perhaps testament enough. He's trying real hard to do the right things."

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