One Screwed Up Situation


avi_icon.gif devon2_icon.gif

Scene Title One Screwed Up Situation
Synopsis With a rough road ahead.
Date March 25, 2019

Elmhurst Hospital

It's quiet. Except for the murmur of people busy at work, doctors and nurses on the other side of a closed door conversing over patients during morning rounds, but it's noise that barely penetrates into the hospital room that Devon has been given for his stay. It's a strangely sharp contrast from the raucous seagulls and ocean sounds and the worried voices that came to him the last time he awoke. The distance of the everyday sounds of people makes him reluctant to open his eyes.

The fog of sleep is already burning away though. First interrupted by a creeping awareness of his surroundings, it's then chased by the change in light. Morning sun shines through a window that overlooks a corner of the hospital parking lot. The brightness of it entices a squinted look at the curtain which masks the door.

He's still in the hospital.

The thought floats with vague memories of the day before, of waking up to worried voices and sand. After yesterday, it's a relief to find himself where he remembers being last. If he hadn't… Dev sighs to dismiss his own worry that follows and twists himself over to look at the world on the other side of the window.

But the world’s come to him, worries and all. Or at least, one scruffy part of it.

Avi Epstein is slouched by Devon’s bedside in a chair just a little too small for his tall frame. Emily’s coat is draped across his lap like a makeshift and comically small blanket, though she is not around. Sunglasses on his face and head lolled back like a corpse, the surest sign of life is the gentle sound of snoring escaping from his slack jaw and the glistening stream of saliva down the side of his face.

This might be the first time Avi has slept in a day or more. Regretfully, he smells like he may've slept more recently than he's showered.

That’s not the sight that Devon was expecting to see when he turned over.

“What the hell,” is the barest of whispers, and he picks his head up from the pillow for a better look. The sight of Avi occupying the chair is almost as baffling as waking up on a beach minutes — no, it’s been weeks — after being in combat on the opposite side of the country. While any number of familiar faces should be anticipated, he still stares, trying to decide if he remembers the commander’s arrival

Nothing surfaces, except the need to drop his head back onto his pillow and exhale. It’s part sigh and drawn out as he drags his hands over his face. It’s also possible that he’s trying to politely scrub away the smell that the circulating air keeps bringing toward him.

“When’d they let you in,” Dev asks, louder. That face scrubbing adjusts to hair raking as he rolls to look up at the ceiling.

“G’fuck y’self,” is Avi’s half-awake greeting, scrubbing one hand over his face and making noises like he was the one who washed up on the beach. All he can muster to do is achingly sit forward with a few odd pops, then rake one hand through his greasy hair. With a touch of one hand to the side of his face, Avi wipes the slimy patch of drool from his cheek and contemplates Devon behind the dark lenses of his sunglasses.

“Rude.” Dev props himself up a bit and looks again at Avi. He can't read the older man’s expression behind the sunglasses — and telepathy isn't his thing. But he stares right back, perhaps slightly anticipating accusations or other less than well wishes. “But probably deserved,” he adds after a beat. “But seriously. How long've you been here?”

Avi checks his watch, brows rising at the answer. “Sixteen hours…” he looks over to Devon, “and change.” With one hand supporting him as he levers himself up from his chair, Avi lifts himself up from his seat and walks over to Devon’s bedside. “Em’s here too… I think she went to go get breakfast.”

Coming up to the bed, Avi rests a hand down on Devon’s shoulder, brows furrowed. “Doctors say you nearly drowned, they’re running a bunch of tests but…” There’s something in Avi’s tone of voice, something in those ellipses at the end of his sentence. “Dev.” Tension in his voice. “Dev, what the hell happened?”

Sixteen hours. Time has a strange way of seeming important, and Devon sinks backward slightly to let his mind wrap around the hours that have passed. “I don't know.” He scrubs at his eyes with a thumb and finger as he breathes out his answer.

Lowering his hand, he looks up at the commander, and at his own reflection in the older man’s sunglasses. “Two days ago…” He stops, and a frown touches his expression. It wasn't two days ago though, he's been told that already. “I don't know. The signal jammed, we were ambushed. The robots…”

Avi’s sigh is as much of a rebuke of Devon’s placement of timing as anything. With a shake of his head he dismisses the notion of it being two days, then gives Devon’s shoulder a squeeze. “Yeah…” he says softly, nodding and looking away. “Well, Em pulled some strings with her cousin so… turns out the hospital will extend visiting hours for war heroes.” He scoffs at that notion, then moves his hand away from Devon’s.

“I took a look at your patient file,” is something a former CIA operative would do, rather than the sensible thing of talking to someone. “Other than the lungful of ocean, you’re in surprisingly good health. You… might be out in a couple of days, tops. Once they’re done with observation.” Walking to the foot of the bed, Avi seems like he’s beating around a particular bush. His concern is real, but there’s so much more than that going on behind his sunglasses.

“You don’t remember anything?” Avi asks, looking across the bed at Devon.

“Emily was here earlier,” Devon explains, meaning she visited yesterday. A nod follows, as if he expected nothing less than Avi going straight to the source for information. In good health, and hopefully out in a couple of days. “That's good to hear. Just some scrapes, bruises. I don't know.”

He brings his hands up and scrubs at his face when Avi walks away. What he remembers…

“Before the beach.” But after California. The younger man closes his eyes and shakes his head after lowering his hands, like the movement might rattle something into place. “Cold.”

Dev opens his eyes and looks at Avi. “Not chilled. Just being cold.”

Avi makes a small noise in the back of his throat at nods. “I let the rest of the team know you're alive. Hana’s off overseas right now, half the company’s put in for retirement now that the big deal is done. Bennet's headed out west, Mini-Gitelman is out, Demsky’s joining the NYPD. A lot’s… happened, since we thought we lost you.”

There's still something troubled in Avi’s tone of voice. “We had a funeral for you,” isn't even the half of it. “Informal, people got drunk. Dearing puked into a potted plant and Mini-Harkness slipped in some of it.” He looks down to the floor. “We celebrated you.” It’s like mourning, but with more denial.

Pain works its way into Dev’s expression as the events since California are shared. For a long moment he seems lost for what to say. A funeral, they'd believed he was dead. “Avi, I'm…” Apologizing feels like the right thing to do, though he doesn't know what he'd be apologizing for.

He rolls onto his side, tucks his knees up to his chest, instead of finishing that thought. Guilt takes him even though he tries to hide it in blankets drawn up to his chin.

“I don't know what happened,” he eventually admits, without looking up at the older man. Saying as much is difficult, and there's obvious fear in what it might mean, but once started, he just lets the words continue to tumble. “I don't… I don't even know what day it is. I think it's… just the day after Sunstone. But…” It's been longer. “I'm sorry, Avi. I'm sorry that I put you and Emily and everyone through that. And I don't know what happened, where I was…”

Avi shakes his head, looking distantly at the floor. “You were following orders. If you hadn't done what you did… Lucille and Noa might be dead right now.” Slowly he turns his attention up to Devon, frowning.

“It's just… Dev…” There's that tone again, Avi dancing around something he doesn't want to admit. “Nobody knows what happened. I don't know how you wound up in the Atlantic. There's still people in California digging through the ruins of Sunstone looking for your remains. And…”

Avi looks away. “Part of me is afraid they'll find them.”

“I'm not in California.” The statement is made before he even gives himself a chance to consider what Avi’s implying. Devon shifts his head and looks up at the older man.

It takes him a minute to see the hesitancy, the avoidance of… something. And he frowns slightly while piecing together an understanding.

Or what he's currently understanding. It frightens him, nearly as much as the chasm in his memories.

“Sir — Avi — I'm…” He couldn't be anyone else. “I'm me. I'm not some alternate world version.” Dev turns further and actually makes himself sit up. For a long moment he looks like he may even get out of bed and leave the hospital. “I don't… Why would… I'm from this reality.”

“The fact that we even have the potential to debate this is— ” Avi cuts himself off, pinching the bridge of his nose with forefinger and thumb, massaging where his sunglasses had been sitting all night. “You could be a fucking mindwiped shapechanger, a clone, some kind of Terminator. I’m not ruling anything out right now, except that we don’t know what happened to you.”

Worry crosses Avi’s face, a sigh slipping out to show his strain. “Look, I want to believe. I do. But until we have some kind of answer as to how you got more than a thousand miles across the country and back from the dead I…” Avi looks away, shaking his head. “You would’ve been off of active duty for recuperation anyway. So just… we’ll figure this out.”

“I'm not— ” Devon breaks the argument off with a sigh. He can deny any of those possibilities long and hard, but he's also been part of the world where those conspiracies and theories are very real and knows the futility of it. The uncertainties, and his status with Wolfhound because of it, have made him queasy with worry.

Somehow he's going to have to find answers.

His feet find the floor. “Yeah,” he hears himself agreeing while he half leans against the edge of the hospital bed. Devon's head turns as he searches for something, and it's as an afterthought that he starts fussing with bandages and the tube still connected to his hand to remove them. “Let's figure this out. Let's… someone's gotta have a way to look, right?”

The nod Avi gives is shallow and uncertain. “Somebody,” he says uncertainly. “Richard’s sister, maybe. She’s the only telepath I know, might be able to get to the bottom of things. But I just…” Avi looks back to Devon, warily. “If you go all Manchurian Candidate on me between now and then…” He doesn’t both to explain the repercussions of that. They both care about Emily too much to speculate further.

“SESA’s got questions for you, a laundry list a mile long. I’ve been holding them off, but now that you’ve had some time to recuperate they’re gonna’ want to check you out and get a heads-up on what happened. Probably today, definitely no later than tomorrow.” Avi looks down to the floor for a moment, scrubbing one hand over the back of his neck as he walks up to Devon’s side at the bed.

“You ready for the Spanish Inquisition?” Avi asks, letting his hand come down on the bed beside Devon.

“It's not going to happen.” Devon is certain of that, even if he has no right to be or way to know what could happen. He pauses in picking at a corner of tape long enough to look at Avi and share the seriousness of his claim.

His focus returns to the tape holding things against his arm and hand and he picks again. At least until the weight of the impending SESA interrogation is noticed.

“Why?” It probably shouldn't be a shock to him. Devon looks at Avi, baffled, and sinks so that he's sitting on the bed again. Thoughts of leaving — even without a plan for where he'd go or how he'd get there — are abandoned. “What's what happened the other day got to do with SESA?”

Why?” Avi is nearly breathless with exasperation at that question. “Dev, an Expressive paramilitary professional dies in an explosion — or disappears or — or something. Then he shows up months later, washed up on a beach on the wrong side of the country in mostly fine health?”

There’s a blankness to Avi’s stare, and he shakes his head in disbelief. “Kid, you’re lucky they aren’t sending the fucking X-Files to investigate this, because— I mean you understand how screwed up this whole situation is, don’t you?”

“Yeah,” Devon answers carefully, nonplussed and made uneasy by Avi’s reaction. Months, not days. He watches the other man, brows knitting the longer he thinks about it. “Yeah, I think so.”

He looks away, eyes wandering to the window. Small, springtime birds lift from one tree as a swarm and settle seconds later in another. “Months,” he echoes once the tiny spots of life have become part of the branches again. There's a hint of question in the word, and Dev slants a look at Avi.

Avi nods once, awkward and quiet. “Yeah,” he says in a hushed tone of voice.


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