Not the Same


devon2_icon.gif rue_icon.gif

Scene Title Not the Same
Synopsis There's a rumor that needs confirming.
Date March 25, 2019

Elmhurst Hospital

There are no beeps of monitors, no hiss of respirators or whirr of machines. There’s only silence in the hospital room lit only by the natural light from a window that overlooks a parking lot. It’s that room which Rue is directed toward, where she’s told she can find Devon Clendaniel. And it isn’t the silence of the sick or dying, either. There’s only a vaguely bored thoughtfulness and idle convalescence to quiet.

True to the charge nurse’s directions, Devon is in the room too. He occupies the bed, head turned to watch some late spring birds flit and fly around above some treetops in the mid morning sun. Breakfast sits not far away, scrambled eggs and toast picked at and a glass of juice more than half finished.

Rue Lancaster stands stunned in the doorway once Devon comes into view. Relief and disbelief war against one another, vying for supremacy of her emotional state. Spine rigid as a steel rod, she makes her way further into the room, boots sounding softly on the polished floor.

“Hey…” Her voice is kept hushed, hoping not to disturb him much. She grieved for him, and now here he is. It’s like her appeals to the universe to change his fate were answered. This is a world in which miracles are possible, but they’re also few and far between. Rue isn’t sure what to think.

The footsteps are ignored, and it’s possible it’s done on purpose. Devon has likely decided if he doesn’t respond then whatever nurse or doctor he’s first guessing has entered his room will simply go away. But the voice, a familiar one at that, has him twisting so that he can look over his shoulder. Or stare, as is what happens for the first several seconds when he finds Rue standing nearby.

“Hey,” he answers. He braces with his hands and pushes himself up a bit. His eyes lift to look past Rue toward the door, maybe expecting to see others trailing in behind of either the medical staff or fellow Hound variety. He looks back at the lieutenant, concern marking his expression.

“Why the long face?” Rumor quips, a shaky smile on her own face. “You were hoping for someone else?” She shrugs her shoulders and rounds the bed to drop into a chair at his side. Her eyes scan over his figure not for the first time. Worry is banished from her expression by the time her eyes settle back on his face.

She opens her mouth to speak, but ultimately shuts it without a sound. There’s just a silent shake of her head. Whatever’s on her mind is either unimportant or can wait. She’ll leave him the opening to start conversation on his terms.

“You looked like you’d seen a ghost,” Dev counters easily enough, and somehow he manages to not grin at his own joke. He sinks backward, but shifts his pillows around so he’s sitting up somewhat. “I’m just trying to get my bearings, which…” He suffices to finish the thought with a shrug.

“How’s it been,” he goes on. It’s a shift in subject, sort of. Attempts to wrap his mind around missing two months instead of two days is a bit much. It’s easier to focus on the present.

“Not the same without you,” Rue summarizes the situation. While there was plenty to celebrate about the turnout of their mission, she could never say for certain if it outweighed the cost. But that’s all beneath the surface. What she shows to the others is far more pragmatic.

There’s the obvious question hanging over their heads, and Rue decides it’s best to get it out of the way. “What the hell happened? I mean… what do you remember?” It’s a better start than playing 20 Questions that amount to are you really Devon Clendaniel?

“Robots crashing our part of the mission,” Devon supplies after a bit of a pause. He pushes a hand through his hair and looks up at the ceiling. “We disabled one and I went to throw it at another. Then… I was waking up on the beach. And it’s really been two months.”

Letting his head roll to the side, he looks at Rue. “I’d swear it’s been only a couple of days since California. There’s nothing… it’s blank between Sunstone and Brighton.”

Rue shakes her head slowly and breathes out a soft curse. “Jesus, Dev.” She doesn’t have to imagine what that’s like. She lived it when she survived the explosion in Midtown. One moment, she and Samara were laughing and chatting, and the next was a flash of light, screams of terror, and then the quiet sounds of the monitoring equipment in the hospital.

“Maybe it will come back to you,” is meant to be a comfort. Whether it actually is or not is up to him. Rue would want to know what happened, but there’s a lot of reasons to be happy with a blank slate where trauma should be.

“Maybe.” He might agree, but he doesn’t sound too confident, or sure that he’d want to know. Devon still grins, though, at least thankful for the efforts to add a comfort to the missing memories. “If not, at least I’m home.”

His grin grows slightly, amused and intrigued both. “Emily sneaked in,” he confides in her, much like a little brother would to an older sister. “Just to see me. I think she would’ve argued with the nurse about staying, but that nurse looked she’d never smiled a day in her life.”

A wide smile breaks out across Rue’s face at the change of subject. And the focus of that new subject. She suspected things had been dicey with Emily before they left for their mission, so to hear that she snuck in just to see him is heartening. “That’s great.”

Rue leans forward slightly, a little conspiratorially. “That had to be a nice welcome home.

“It was.” Dev shrugs like it’s really not a big deal, but his grin remains in place. “It was really nice to see her. A big relief after the mission the other day, coming home and seeing her again.” Another shrug follows, and he lets his head roll to the side so he can look at Rue. “I’m glad you didn’t try to talk me out of coming down here before we flew out to California.”

“I know better,” she insists. “It’s important to not feel like you have hanging threads before a mission. You can’t focus on the right-now if you’re stuck on the what-if.” See? Entirely practical. Rue Lancaster is definitely not a bleeding heart. Really. Honest.

“How are you doing, though? Really.” Okay, maybe a little bit of a bleeding heart. Don’t tell anyone, though.

“As far as anyone can tell, I’m fine.” Devon might look vaguely skeptical, given the lingering confusion and the substantial gap in his memory. There’s a tiredness that’s possibly left over from however long he’d been on the beach before being found, but otherwise he looks generally well. “There’s some bruises and scrapes, those’ll heal though. And… mostly I just want to get out of here. Hospitals aren’t my favorite places.”

“Mine either. I’ve spent more time in them than I’d like,” Rue empathizes, her expression passive. “I’m glad you’re more or less alright.” Even if nobody understands exactly how that’s possible. She’d be lying if she tried to say she didn’t have doubts about the situation.

“Is there anything I can get for you? I’m good at smuggling things.” She winks, that grin coming back into place.

“I thought it was bad when my knee got blown out last summer.” Devon sounds like he’d rather experience that all over again, even though he’s half cringing at the memory of it. “This is like… I don’t even know how to describe it.” Or he doesn’t care to try right now.

He grins at the question, and checks over his shoulder for any grouchy looking nurses. Seeing none, he leans closer to Rue. “There any place that’s got good burgers? Like the kind we could get from the trucks with the grease and the drippy cheese and the fries?”

“I know what you mean.” Her injuries have been far less severe, but she rolls her shoulder at the memory of the injury she sustained at Fort Irwin.

Rue nods her head and glances over toward the door to make sure they aren’t being overheard. She’s been alert and is fairly certain no one’s snuck up on them, but the visual confirmation is assuring. “I can make that happen.” She reaches out and squeezes his hand once, almost surprising herself when she does. She’s quick to retreat, but not so quick as to suggest she regrets the show of affection.

“Give me an hour. We’ll have you eating like a king. — Well, the Burger King.”

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