devon2_icon.gif elisabeth_icon.gif

Scene Title Padawan
Synopsis Following his weapons demonstrations, Liz takes Devon outside to talk about his experiences.
Date May 27, 2011

Endgame Safehouse

She's watched him throughout the shooting assessment. The firing range in the basement is entirely maskeshift — several ancient couches from the dump, some car doors, some cans of varying sizes, even a punching bag that can be set into motion in front of a wall padded with cushions from the couch so ricochets are at a minimum. Elisabeth's blue eyes on him have been steady as she silenced the gunshots so that there was no sound at all, not to his own ears or to anyone else's. The scent of cordite is the only thing that gives away what they're doing. She's watched not just his proficiency with actual shooting but how he handles the gun, how he stands, how he acts about the firearm. And it's the latter that perhaps gives her pause. His retreat into himself while he uses the weapon is… worrisome.

When they're done, Elisabeth takes him upstairs to pull two sodas from their fridge, hooked to a generator that Jaiden came up with, and takes him all the way to the rooftop. She's silent until she gets to where she wants them, encasing them both in a silence field so whoever's on watch at the moment won't be able to hear the conversation. And calmly as she takes a sip from the bottle in her hand, sitting cross-legged out in the open air, she asks, "Did you have to shoot someone in the Dome?"

Throughout the demonstration, Devon had withdrawn. The easy going teenager that sat and ate spaghetti while talking about hobbies had sunk away to be replaced by a more serious, colder demeanor. But his skills with the weapon are fair, targets are hit, his handling when not shooting would impress most instructors. But the closed exterior clung even after the exercise.

The firearm is returned to its hidden holster, with Devon making a mental note to clean it again. It's in ponderous silence that he follows her, curiosity shown for the layout and areas he hadn't passed before cursory. Taking a cue on reaching the roof, he lowers himself to sit cross-legged also, elbows draped over his knees. Her question doesn't come as a surprise, but it's one of those things. The things that he's been reluctant to share with anyone, yet this time he nods without looking up. "Yeah," he answers, calmly though a pinching of his brow could relay that he's not cut off completely from the experience. "A few someones."

"I'm sorry," is Elisabeth's gentle reply. She doesn't seem to pity him, but there is sympathy in the gaze she levels on him. And understanding. She's been there. "Are you still having nightmares?" she asks after a long moment. As if it's a given.

"Sometimes." Devon's answer is honest, if coupled with a shrug. His eyes lift to look briefly at Liz, almost haunted amongst that dispassionate expression, then slant off toward the surrounding building tops. Another thing he's not generally forward about, preferring to push it away. "When I first got out I hardly slept. The memories were always waiting there. But it's gotten better, doesn't happen very often and it's not usually as bad when it does."

The blonde nods. Her tone is matter-of-fact as she talks to him as an equal — at least in this regard, he is an equal. "Sometimes, when it gets bad, if you let it play out in your head before you try to sleep, the dreams won't come. Almost like you've managed to cut it off at the pass." She is trying to think through the best way to handle this for him, and she opts to go the route of treating him like any rookie cop who had to kill someone. "It shouldn't be easy, Devon. No matter what they're doing, they're still people. Taking a human life should never be easy. The day it doesn't bother you, I need to know. Because it's time to get out if you can. There's an old adage about… how when you look into the abyss you have to be careful because the abyss looks back. Every cop and soldier I know, we know what that means because we walk a real fine line — especially now." She toys with the bottle in her hands. "They're doing horrible things to people out there. And sometimes killing is the right answer, but it takes a piece of your soul every time. When it doesn't bother you anymore, you're in real danger of becoing exactly what you fight against," she explains softly. "So … if you feel like you need to talk, come talk to me, okay? I've been where you are."

"It does bother me," Devon replies, in quieter tones yet strained. He lifts a hand, a faint tremble that hadn't been there while handling his weapon now showing in just how tightly reigned in that experience is, and rubs his forehead from temples to center. He can't honestly say he's dealt with it, his own actions and attitude shows he's more apt to bottling the unpleasantries and pressing on. "The first time… the first time was an accident. The guy tackled me and the rifle got between us. After that…" It was with the intent to kill, to stop the known enemy.

Elisabeth looks up at him, her blue eyes holding a similar kind of haunted look. In a lot of ways it doesn't bother her anymore — or at least when it happens, Elisabeth can justify it to herself enough that she doesn't have nightmares anymore when she has to do it. But that part he doesn't need to hear right now. "After that it was about surviving," she tells him in that same gentle tone. "You do what you have to for survival. For yourself or for anyone else being threatened. And it still sucks," she admits. "If you're lucky, it only happens once in a lifetime. We are not the lucky ones." The admission comes with a small rueful quirk of her lips. "We are the ones who choose to take on the nightmares to help other people who couldn't live with them. The world needs both kinds of people. If it didn't have us, there would be no innocents… there wouldn't be anyone. They'd be sheep to a slaughter. Hold it close to your heart that it takes a brave soul to be willing to step up like you're doing. And understand that there will come a time when you have to walk away from it too or the horror will eat you alive. Both of those are facts."

The other hand joins the first, the heels of his palms pressing against his eyes. Letting out a breath, Devon nods, his hands dropping away from his face. That shell of disconnection remains, a defense tactic firmly in his employ though it is little more than a front. His way of coping without actually confronting. "It was seeing those innocent people dragged out of the homes that… I realized… Taking a gun for the first time, I was prepared but didn't think I'd ever use it." Does anyone ever? "…I know I've said it before, I could turn and walk away and get out of this. But it's not going to change anything. I'm a target, I've been a target since I tried to kill Valentin on that rooftop. If not before. My innocence is gone, but I can and will do whatever is necessary to keep others from losing theirs."

She reaches out to the boy, wrapping an arm around his shoulders in a brief, tight hug. Elisabeth says quietly, "To fight in this is always a choice, Devon. You've got your head on straight, and that's good. Seeing what you saw, living what you lived… you've had to grow up much faster than I think any of us would have liked. You should still be busy worrying about prom." Her tone is dry. As she releases him, though, she catches his eyes with hers. "But 2006 started this ball rolling. And I hope that the information I'm compiling and the facts that I can put out there will be enough to … maybe make someone start to listen. Humanis First and their influence over the government has to be the first priority. They're gaining too much power too fast. Which means that worrying over the Institute? That has to be on the back burner. I have to leave someone else to handle that front, because I cannot do both adequately." It galls her to admit that, to give up on that fight. But there is a measure of relief in the idea that it will be a fight for another day. We'll rest when we're through. Huh. As if that ever happens. "Dr. Brennan is capable of handling the Institute end of this, I hope. And you took my message to him, so… if he needs anything at all, we'll be there to back him up."

A faint, humorless grin acknowledges her observations, And Devon's only return for the hug is to lean into it with the reluctance and acceptance of a younger brother type. Slanting a look toward her, he meets her gaze easily enough. He understands the magnitude of things in a way he hadn't been a year ago. One can't live on the front line for even a day and easily miss what's happening. "Humanis First is at the top of my list, they've overextended their reach and made organizations meant to support Evolved dangerous. And I've told Doctor Brennan I'll follow his lead on how to handle the Institute. He… told me he's supposed to report that phone number you gave, but he'll wait. And I think he's aware that I'm warning you anyway, he knows I'm reporting to you." Not by listening in, but the assumption could easily have been made when he saw the good doctor last.

Elisabeth sighs. If he's reporting it, she'll have to ditch it. "Shit," she says softly. "Well, at least he knows if he needs the help he can speak with you. Glad I only gave you one of the burn phones," she comments in a perturbed tone. It's not like it was unexpected. But the doctor got the message and that's all she wanted.

"Sorry," Devon offers quietly, a small lift to one shoulder given as a shrug. "I'll make a run through the city, pick up a few extra throw away phones." Not many, two or three that wouldn't draw attention. Drawing his knees up slightly, he hooks his arms around them and stares out over the rooftops.

There's a shrug from Elisabeth. "It's all right," she tells him. "At least he gave us a heads up that he'd turn the number in. If he reports it to the Institute, we should be all right. If he's reporting up the DoEA chain, it could get dicey. Which is why I went ahead and gave you one of the burn phone numbers." She smiles a little. "I already have someone in the DoEA, so… if shit hits the fan, hopefully she'll let me know."

The last comment from Liz gets a curious look, but Devon doesn't ask. He can't help but wonder, but it's better for now if he didn't know. He sits quiet for a long moment, reflecting. The pains and horrors of months past are put up on the proverbial shelf, the evidence though, still subtly present in his countenance. But he covers, after that moment, with a small chuckle. "Prom," he says rolling his eyes though a little grin has made its way free. "I was too young to go to prom."

There's a soft chuckle and Elisabeth confides softly, "I don't even remember mine. So…. I don't know which is better. Having had one and not remembering it or just not having had one." She shrugs a little and explains at his questioning look, "Humanis First executed me — or at least tried to. I have a form of amnesia."

"I don't think I'm really missing anything," Devon adds with a shrug. He's not entirely sure how to sum up his high school experience, beyond abnormal and not just because of the interruption of the Midtown bomb. His brows lift, surprise at her explanation for why there's no memory of her prom. "Good thing they failed. That's got to suck missing parts of your past."

"It does," Elisabeth admits. "I don't have memories of the end of high school, or of college. Or of the first few years I was on the police force. And … I don't have memories of my mother during those years when we went from being … somewhat on the outs because I was an outspoken teenager to being able to be friends. I'm grateful that the chunk that was taken was well before she was killed — I'm not missing the last years of her life, and those are good memories." She smiles a little. "But yeah, I'm finding that missing ten years has an impact."

Devon smiles a touch, sad and understanding both. "That's good, that you got to know your mom and remember her, even after…" A soft exhale escapes as he trails off that thought, bottom lip folding in to be caught between teeth. "I'm not going to be consumed," he states after a beat, changing the topic in retreat from familial discussions, eyes flicking over to Liz again. "I made a commitment, I'd fight to make this world better but I wouldn't become like them."

She'd altered the topic to offer him a more personal view of her. To give him the opening if he wanted it. But Elisabeth is glad to change the subject. "We all say that," she says with serious blue eyes. "Just remember that commitment…. is not the same as obsession. You can be committed to it and still back down, Devon. There are courses of action that sometimes…. backing away is the best way to live to fight another day." She smiles a little. "I'm glad that you've backed away from this thing with Dr. Blite. I won't say that you're 'too young' because I don't think that's exactly accurate, but I will say that… I don't think you have the experience to handle someone as politically savvy and manipulative as she is. It can be difficult to let someone else take over something that you feel is your responsibility." She smiles outright. "Believe me. Delegation is not a strong suit with me. But… it's good that you recognized that you were out of your depth. I like that you were able to do it, and that's what's convinced me you're capable of being involved in all this."

It's not to maintain privacy, or even secrecy regarding his upbringing, the retreat was more for Devon's comfort. Talk of family isn't the easiest thing and he's still coming to terms with his stray status. "For an actor, I'm pretty bad at playing politics," he admits. "I should've gotten out sooner. As it is, I'm sure I've made another enemy out of the mess but I'm glad that Doctor Brennan is taking over." He pauses, brows furrowing slightly. "She dismissed me from the charade, but… I'm not sure how she's expecting me to react. I'm not about to try to find out soon."

Elisabeth nods immediately. "Good plan. Steering clear at this point seems the safest option. Considering the fact that you said she threatened you, I'm … inclined at this juncture to take her ass right on out of the picture," she admits darkly. And no, she's not kidding. "The only thing stopping that is the consideration that if she's part of this flu situation, perhaps she can be coerced or forced by Brennan and his superiors to actually do as she claimed she could." And make the flu better.

"She's working with Odessa Price," Devon points out, almost on the heels of Liz's next line of thought. "I don't know Price's part in it though Blite mentioned genetics, I'm half tempted to see if I can't drag some information out of her." He knows the one-eyed woman is afraid of him, it's an angle he's very careful to maintain for such situations. He looks up, to gauge Elisabeth's thoughts on the matter.

There's a long silence as she considers the idea. "Why do you think Price will tell you anything?" Elisabeth asks carefully. She doesn't seem like she's going to tell him not to, but she's curious.

Devon shakes his head and shrugs that one shoulder again. "I don't know, maybe if I phrase it in an act of good faith. Not that she has any reason to trust or believe me and apparently every reason to be afraid. Something I'd flex a little in this case." His shoulder rises and falls again in a dismissive gesture for the thought. "I'm not an interrogator, I fly and hope instinct keeps me up."

"Right, what I'm getting at here is …. why is this woman afraid?" Elisabeth asks calmly. "She has the backing of the Institute — why is she afraid of a teenager?"

"She was in the Dome. She was with Valentin when it came down." Devon drags a hand through his hair, trying to determine why the woman would be afraid of him. "I honestly don't know. Maybe the fact that I punched two or three holes into Valentin. That I was working with a guy who could turn people into puppets and we were there to stop them. But I know she's afraid."

Elisabeth considers that intelligence and then nods slowly. "Interesting," she murmurs. "If you're going to meet with Odessa Price, keep it in the open. And I'd like to be present. Don't tell her that, though." She pauses. "And in the meantime… be cautious. If she's working with Dr. Blite and if they're on the same page about the matter…. she may have been told God only knows what about you and may come prepared to try to kill you," she comments. The blonde has her own reasons for wanting to speak to Dr. Price. "Her loyalties are pretty much always up in the air."

"Yes, ma'am," Devon responds quietly. He considers briefly, how best to assure that meeting. Public and with Liz, risky but doable in he right place. "I'll do what I can to get a meeting with her and get you the details as soon as I can. First sign of trouble though, we're getting out of there."

"Abso-fucking-lutely," Elisabeth agrees. And she glances at the boy with a cheeky grin. "Unless they're carrying negation gas, though, they won't get close enough to cause a problem." It's perhaps a hint of bravado, but … there's something to the way she says it that might indicate she's dead serious. She's quite used to being underestimated — the only people she expects not to do that are the ones who've dealt with her ability before. They know just how deadly she can be. "Just remember, though — I'm the terrorist. You're the padawan." She nudges him lightly.

Though Devon nods his agreement. "Negation gas is the suck," he agrees, though he's yet to experience the joys of its full effect. One of the benefits of yet being unmanifested. "That happens, just stay close and we'll make it out." Her implications of her being a terrorist and him only learning, while he'll agree to some level, is met with a grin and a raised brow. "Does that mean I get to call you Obi Wan?"

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