devon4_icon.gif elisabeth_icon.gif

Scene Title Paradox
Synopsis He says he's the same, but…
Date March 5, 2020

Jackson Heights

It's taken a few days to get home. In that time, all that Elisabeth has heard is that Wolfhound was in California, they took some injuries. Although she's been trying not to worry, it's hard. There are friends on those teams. Loved ones. And Praxia has some people and things she worries about. It's not until the RayTech team makes it back from Detroit that she gets a better handle on who was hurt, though the reports are still a little sketchy. And although the cell phone is not taking texts, Elisabeth contacted the local Wolfhound office and asked to see Devon.

The message was received, but it was still a few hours before that became apparent.

The typical workday ends somewhere between 4 and 6 pm, even in the very non-typical world that America has become. Some things definitely weather the passage of time much better than others. So it possibly makes sense when it's after the typical workday when Elisabeth hears back with an invitation to an outdoor coffee cart set up just down the street from the Raytech campus.

Devon is already waiting, half seated on a concrete divider. A to-go cup is held in one hand while the other hand stays warm in his jacket pocket. He isn't actively watching for Liz, although he is observing the foot traffic, expression almost hawklike on his thinned face.

As she approaches, the audiokinetic is focused on keeping her head on a swivel. The past days have been stressful but not more than she can handle, at least. Until she gets near the cart and finds the face she's looking for — and maybe she doesn't know which one of them survived. Or maybe there would be just as much heartache no matter which of the 'twins' survived.

Elisabeth makes her way toward the divider, her blue eyes studying his features with an expression of uncertainty. "Hi." It's prosaic, but she's not sure what else to say to him right now. There is so much.

Lacking the ability to hear as well as an audiokinetic, Devon doesn't notice Liz until she actually speaks. A grin cuts across his features, the same crooked smile he's always had. But it sours slightly with his own uncertainty. He wasn't there when Elisabeth returned — for him the reunion was experienced through his other self’s eyes. The glimpses into this world weren't exactly enough to know the woman now.

“Hey.” That's normal enough for him. He looks down at the cup in his hand, muscles in his jaw working briefly. “I got your message. Things are…” The hand and cup make a circular motion, but, “Busy,” is the best he can come up with. “What's up? D’you want a coffee?”

The sight of that grin eases Elisabeth a little despite the way it falls some. She hesitates and then says, "Sure, I'll grab it in a minute…" Awkward moment here. Moving to sit down across from him, it's becoming clear to her — and it takes her a long moment to find the right words. "The Devon that woke up on the beach didn't make it, did he?" It's not really a question.

God, what should she say? Looking down, she clasps her hands tightly on the table, before looking back up at him. "I'm sorry," she says softly. For so very very much. That he's gone through everything that he's been through. That he was split into two people. That he could see things happening here, know them… and not live them. That he may have lived his own death — again. "For way too many things in all this. But the biggest is that we didn't get to you."

She has felt a sense of failure all along at the fact that there just wasn't a viable way to get to him — the him that was in Praxia. But it's an even bigger sense of failure now. She made a promise a long time ago that she would always come for him. Being 'dead' excuses only the years she was away. Not the time since Devon washed up on Brighton Beach.

As Elisabeth begins speaking, Devon looks away. Muscles in his jaw flex and contract as he digests the statement. He isn't the Devon that Elisabeth was expecting. The rope bridge he's found himself on sways discomfitingly.

His eyes slide to the side when the apologies begin, and he studies Liz. Uneasiness at the topic is clearly marked as tension around his mouth. His jaw stays clenched until he looks away. “This isn't the place for that conversation,” he says. He sounds decisive, but that tension remains. His lips press together and he faces ahead, with eyes ticking toward the frequent passerby or coffee cart patron. Almost like he's watching for someone, expecting them to show. “We should… We should talk. You, me, Richard …his sister.” Dev’s tone hangs on uncertainty with including Kaylee, but he doesn't retract the suggestion.

Elisabeth nods slightly. He's not wrong — this is not the place or time. "Are you… settling in okay?" she asks softly. "Dad, uhm… he's glad you guys are moving back to the city. Said it means he gets to see you more."

Maybe. She wouldn't blame him right now for not wanting anything to do with them. "Aura's been asking for you for video games." Her blue eyes flicker up to him and she offers a little bit of a smile. "If you tell her that there were two of you, she'll be fascinated and probably ask you a million questions about being two people at once." It's like it'll be just another weird thing in the child's lexicon of 'normal.'

A brow ticks up slightly at mention of Jared. Devon can't help but harbor some pretty strong doubts at how welcoming anyone will be toward him. He's pretty certain he's already ruffled more than a few feathers simply by existence.

“Yeah, I guess,” he answers. Settling in by taking over his other half’s… life? as much as is possible. Some people will know whether he wants them to or not. As for Aura, he starts to form a response, but it dies before it's put to words. “I don't know,” he lands on instead. “That's not… she doesn't… I'm not some…visiting science experiment.”

Elisabeth starts to say something, pauses, and then very carefully says, "No, you're her big brother as far as she's concerned. If you… don't want to cultivate that unquestioning acceptance from her, that's your choice. I will find a way to explain it that doesn't hurt her feelings. Maybe similar to the way Uncle Felix was explained — that he's not the same Uncle Felix and you don't really know her and don't want her to be confused." She considers and then says, "Frankly, she's a hell of a lot better adjusted about the whole situation of multiple versions of the same people than I have any right to expect."

She doesn't know to address the skepticism that crosses his features and she says simply, "I can't blame you for not … wanting to be around any of us. But I hope you find your way home soon." She picks at the edge of the table.

Dev’s eyes slant to Liz, shadowed by something uncertain. It touches on anger, fear, hauntings in ways Liz would remember from his early days under her guidance. Unquestioned acceptance isn't healthy, but neither is broadcasting who he isn't. The cup in his hand dimples under pressure, the lid skews slightly from the tensing of his grip. “That's not what I meant.” His eyes dart to the crowd, again searching the crowd for something that likely isn't there.

“It's…” He reaches for words that don't fit his reasoning. “We do need to talk.” Just not here. “We should.” But not now. “Maybe dinner.” Is that safe? Closing his mouth, he presses his lips together. Tension runs from his mouth to his shoulders. “You get them together, I'll be there.”

She nods, blue eyes studying him. "Okay. That sounds … good," Elisabeth agrees. Maybe 'good' isn't the right word, but it'll do. "Saturday?" she offers, "Or do you need a little more time?" She's giving him as much space as he wants, letting him set the terms. But she's noting the way he's watching, and his wordless fears now have her maternal instincts clamoring to protect him — her eyes are more guarded as she too scans the surroundings.

After seeing nothing that causes her to go into combat mode, Elisabeth hesitates again, as if there is something else that needs to be said. She has no idea if he caught it in the news. "I thought you should hear the confirmation from me… Jaiden did survive the attack on the compound. I, uhm." Its a huge relief … but not as simple as she wishes. She sighs heavily. "I got word that he was picked up as part of the raid on Shedda Dinu."

That, too, is a heartache. That they managed to militarize Jaiden again in that particular way. "It's been a hell of a year," she murmurs.

Nothing beyond the normal exists from what Devon or Elisabeth can see. People are being people and going about their daily lives. The young man’s scanning lasts only moments, easing along with the sway of conversation and the grasp on his cup. He's unsurprised by the news, particularly about Jaiden. Evidence that the Australian was killed was never found. What Shedda has to do with it is beyond him.

“Saturday’s fine.” He swings the conversation back the other way. “Pick a place and I'll be there around 7 o’clock.”

"All right, kiddo, you got it," Elisabeth replies. "Saturday at 7." Everyone will be there — the adults he's asked for, at least.

He's acting like she did after Humanist First. "How about we pick someplace with a bit of heat next time, hmm?" Open spaces were a huge problem for her for a while — and though he chose this venue, he definitely is giving off the agoraphobic vibes right now. But to be fair, it's not exactly warm out here. She's just giving him a bit of a graceful out. "I'm going to grab my coffee… do you… want to stay a bit?"

“I should go back soon,” Devon replies. He looks at his coffee cup, withdraws his pocketed hand to secure the lid on it again. “I've got some appointments in the morning. And…” He trails off, unsure of what to say next, how to express anything.

“Don't… say anything.” Dev’s voice pitches unnecessarily quiet. He frowns, his to-go cup doesn't hold any answers. He looks up at Elisabeth. “About me. If anyone asks. I'm me. That's all anyone needs to know.”

Elisabeth nods slightly. "All right. There are … people who are going to know things are off. People who are close to you. But I won't say anything." She'd like to ask what he's planning on telling Emily, but … it's not really her place right now to pry. "I'll see you Saturday."

Between now and then, it seems probable a ridiculous amount of food will show up at her house. Maybe he'll be amused to see that some things will never change.

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