Practicing The Art Of Saying Goodbye


devon2_icon.gif emily_icon.gif

Scene Title Practicing The Art Of Saying Goodbye
Synopsis It's equal parts anger and 'I love you', apparently.
Date December 10, 2019

Raytech Corporate Housing, Jared Harrison’s Apartment

NYC Safe Zone, New York

December 9, 2019

1942 hours

A black pen scratches a line across a wrinkled sheet of lined paper, and Devon sits back to stare at the bag of personal effects. His gear bag is ready to go, armor and weaponry packed, survival equipment, a spare cell phone and some outdated maps. Be ready for anything is what he'd been told, and pack for a few days. It was a frustrating necessity, being kept in the dark about a lot of details.

“Guess that's everything,” he says to the empty room. The completed list is set aside and he stands. One more look is cast around his room to see if anything was forgotten, left from the list by mistake.

His eyes come to a small photograph nested among folds of soft, woven fibers of a scarf. A smile touches his lips, and a couple of steps take him to the desk where the items wait. A thumb brushes against the image of a young blond woman trying very hard to look stern. Both are placed carefully into his bag, and he makes a sound of satisfaction.

Epstein & Laudani Residence

Sheepshead Bay, NYC Safe Zone, New York

One day later…

“If everything goes as planned, I'll be back by Christmas.”

Devon sinks onto the sofa beside Emily and passes her one of the two mugs he'd brought from the kitchen. Marshmallows bob on top of a rich, chocolatey brown surface. “I'm not sure what Richard expects to find in California that we haven't already figured out, but I'm not planning on any unnecessary risks.”

Never mind the argument that going to Praxia of all places is ridiculous and it was shot down when he himself had suggested it. Now suddenly it's a good idea, one both Richard and Avi has basically advocated.

Tilting his head slightly, he looks at Emily. He's uneasy, worried. Given the last time they'd parted before some mission took him halfway across the world. But he tries to hide it, downplays it with a smile. This isn't like the last time, it won't be like the last time. “It's not really a soldiering mission anyway. It's doubtful we'll be in combat.”

Emily takes the mug automatically, but she's got a blank expression that shows she's either in shock or processing, and that she's not likely to actually sip from it. Somehow, the surface of the drink doesn't quaver at all in her grasp, the mug perfectly still.

Devon's leaving. He's going West. Again. Where he died last time. Emily blinks as he tries to assure her it'll be safe— as safe as concerning digging for answers can be, as safe as digging for them in places adjacent or closer to Adam Monroe can be.

This is fine. Everything's fine.

Her brow knits together, and she slams the mug down on the table, drink overflowing onto the surface.

This is not fine.

"What the hell is the matter with you?" Emily demands to know, voice raised. She comes to her feet. "What the fuck has changed that suddenly makes this a good idea?" She tears away from the table on an angry pace so she doesn't do something she immediately regrets. "I'm gonna fucking strangle him," she declares, seething. "Richard Ray is as fucking good as a dead man."

But he's not the only one to blame here, and she rounds back on Devon. "I can't believe you're fucking doing this!" She's angry, yes— hoping the distance currently between them will disguise what else she is: hurt.

Worried, he was expecting. Even upset. The lividity being shown is not something that Devon has imagined. “It isn't a good idea,” he answers carefully. “I couldn't believe they were even discussing it, let alone that Richard decided to make it happen.” Not that he explains why he even agreed in the first place. He's still wrapping his head around the absurdity that everyone had warned him against doing.

He leans forward, sets his own mug on the table, then stands. For a hard minute he watches, at a loss for what he could say. Is it better to let Emily work through her anger? He looks aside for a second. It's long enough that his feet carry him around the table and closer to Emily.

“What do you want me to do?” Voice quiet, imploring, Dev seeks for understanding. He reaches for her, to take her hands with his. “Emily. I know as well as you that this is the worst idea in the world, but…” He stops, breath catching on thoughts that don't need to be spilled further. “I made a decision without talking to you first, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have.” His voice stays quiet, strained with worry. How badly has he just fucked up?

Emily jerks her hands back, avoiding looking at him in an attempt to mask her own unchecked emotions. All it does is end up showcasing them. “I thought we were done with this,” she says, not yelling now, though her voice puts them at arm’s length. “I thought you decided you were done fucking with Pandora’s box and you’d leave it alone, that we had enough answers for you to go on with your life. But then, I don’t know— I fucking thought you were going to be getting on Wolfhound’s backline, and then you nearly got yourself killed being the first man in on that fucking operation on Staten Island— and I had to watch.

She turns away entirely, both hands coming up to clutch at the side of her head, fingers running through her hair. A few paces away she abruptly stops and turns back, dropping her arms back by her side, held out in a gesture of what can you do.

“So what the fuck do I know, anyway?” Emily asks with a cutting smile.

He takes a breath, lets it out again slowly. Emily’s words, while not wrong, strike him like knives. He raises his hands to his face, lightly presses his fingers against his eyes. “When I'm given an assignment I have to take it,” Devon counters. He's careful to keep the edge from his tone. “As for Pandora's Box, we opened it. Now it needs to be closed before anything else happens.”

He drops his hands to his sides. “Look.” He begins, then stops to reconsider. Does the argument really matter? Hurt feelings rage against his tight hold on them, reflect in his expression.

He takes a step, half turned. Maybe he should leave. It wouldn't solve anything. He doesn't really want to leave either, or spend his last evening in town alone. But he can't stand the anger being thrown at him.

“You sound like him,” he hears himself saying, thought spoken aloud. Devon angles a look at Emily, pained in a way he's not sure how to put words to. “You both have such a way with words. It's like neither of you know how to show you care unless it's with yelling and bitching people out. And for as much as he's an asshole, I have a lot of respect for him, more than he probably deserves. But… Emily, I would die for you. Even at your worst, I would give up anything, everything, for you.”

As he speaks, he looks away again. Consideration remains for leaving, but his thoughts still hold him in place. Dev folds his arms across his chest as he finishes, tucks his chin toward his chest. “I don't know what you want, what I can do.” He pauses, swallows, half turns his head toward her. “Emily, I…” he hesitates.

“I love you.”

Emily’s smile vanishes in an instant, the light in her eyes receding, even if it had only been a glint to begin with in the moment. Like so many times in her life, Avi doesn’t need to be brought up by name to know it’s him being referred to. She doesn’t yell, her arms dropping to her side as she stumbles a step back even further. “Fuck you, Clendaniel.” Her voice trembles as she staggers. He can’t mean that, but maybe he does, in the same way she does and doesn’t mean what’s just come from her. Devon keeps going though, moving past the shotgun blast of his initial statement in one breath and offering salve and sutures in the next. She’s still stinging from the first blow, rendered wordless by it.

And then he says he loves her, and instantly her heart twists in her chest. Tears come to her eyes against her will as she tries to hold onto her anger instead of the strange grief she feels, because this feels like a goodbye somehow, and it terrifies her.

“You idiot, I don’t want you to die,” Emily tells him, trying to keep from letting tears seep into her voice. “Not for me, not for anyone, not for anything, and I’m so scared that’s what’s going to happen again.”

“But what am I going to do? Tell you no?” There’s no bitterness to that, that emotion stifled away. She smears the heel of her hand across her cheek. “What kind of jackass does that make me, if I do that? If I deprive you of the chance to get answers that might help you sleep better at night?” Emily looks away and then back, her brow creasing as she tries to keep from crying, leaving the distance between them. “I love you too much to tell you no, but I love you too much to know how to handle you dropping this on me the night before you leave.”

She shakes her head, suddenly dizzy. Her eye contact breaks and goes distant while her feet shuffle in place. “I can’t say goodbye again. I can’t. I can’t.

History dictates if there’s a time to reclaim the physical space between them, it’s now.

Silently, words spent and his feelings laid out between them, breath held, Devon watches Emily. It isn't the volatile reaction he'd feared even as he spoke before his brain had time to caution or abort. His gut sinks at her tears, his chest and throat tightens. The pain she's in, pain he caused, spurs him to move.

The distance between is crossed, closed in a few steps. He searches for something more to say, something that's neither apology nor lame excuse. His brow furrows as he gets near and he has nothing to say still. A strange, sudden wave of hesitance clashes with his declaration of love seconds ago. Is his silence going to be misinterpreted? Will he be pushed away again? He is an idiot, for a lot more reasons than this already stated.

Uncertain and awkward, as though he's unsure of his own skin, Dev reaches for Emily again. This time, instead of trying to take her hands, he tries to draw her to him, into a tight and protective hug.

Don’t go. Emily thinks, and the words nearly spill out. Her arms tighten around him in return, hands clinging to fabric. Don’t go. she pleads silently. It doesn’t take being a mindreader to divine the gist of her desires, face burrowing into his chest to hide the malfunction her tearducts have begun to suffer from. She takes in a shuddering breath,

but no words follow.

For a moment her posture stiffens, her hands shifting like she might shove him away in a fit of frustration. She’s angry at the situation, angry at him, angry at herself. She’s angry she wants to push him away, and angry she doesn’t. Instead, her grip around him renews, fingers curling around his shoulder and midback. A soft, almost unheard keening at the back of her throat is all that escapes of the sob that wants to.

The space between them is too quiet, too vast for her suddenly. “Don’t do this,” she says to try and bridge it, her voice shaking.

“This isn't like last time.” Devon’s voice is barely more than a whisper, muffled against Emily's hair. A hand tangles in her hair, cradles the back of her head. The other holds her tightly to his chest. “I promise it's not like last time.”

Going quiet again, eyes squeezed shut, he hangs on his own promise. Strength is willed into it, willed into the belief that everything will turn out fine. His embrace tightens, like maybe he can pass his confidence on to Emily. It'll be okay.

“Nothing about this is the same,” he whispers. He doesn't trust his voice, but even in the whisper he's still sure. “Nothing.” Dev combs his fingers through Emily's hair, threads a lock behind an ear. “I'll be in contact, we can talk almost the entire time I'm gone. I won't keep you in the dark.”

It’s either irrationality or good sense that keeps her from wholly believing that he’ll be able to be in contact as much as she would like, or that everything will turn out fine. It might not be like last time, but it’s also just like last time.

He’ll leave, and she’ll be left behind. Except this time, instead of being able to selfishly turn and walk away to lessen the blow of the parting, she’ll have to see him to the door.

Emily breathes in deep, eyes closing hard as she lifts her head. Her arms reluctantly fall to loop around his waist instead of crushing him to herself. She tries to find some reasonable argument for how everything’s going to go wrong using facts rather than feelings, and only results in looking pained that she can’t find any. Her eyes open again, panic overlaid with a thin, momentary layer of placidity.

“Not on purpose, but something will happen,” she murmurs, weary and fearful. Her shoulders sag. “It… I just—”

One hand comes up to rub at her face, fingers pawing at her cheeks to sluice water away from them. “I don’t know. I don’t know what to say. I don’t want to fucking jinx it.” Her voice strains as she murmurs tinnily, “I don’t want to fucking lose you. I don’t want— to hope and then lose you all over again.” Her hand cups around her mouth, head coming forward to rest on Devon’s shoulder again.

The worry that had gripped her when they parted ways in January, and the grief that had followed, is something she’s never spoken of. When they’d been reunited, Devon had been offered a glimpse of that pain, but it was quickly wallpapered over by hope and relief. Now, it seemed, all of that was being torn down.

“I love you, you know that, right?” she asks breathlessly, tears streaking down her face again. “I hate you right now,” that spark of honesty brings her to lift her head again, breathing out a laughed, “so much,” while she finds his eyes. “but I love you.” She holds his gaze in hers, her hand lifting from her face to his to touch his cheek. Her words are near whispers, fast; the panic beneath them ready to become dominant at any moment. “And if something happens, I don’t want you to not know that this time. I don’t say it—” Emily shakes her head quickly, taking in a breath. “I don’t say it enough. I figure you just know, but what if you don’t, and I never see you again?”

The anxious furrow of her brow crumples in on itself as she starts to cry again, shoulders bunching in an attempt to stop it. “Devon, what if I never see you again?”

The conflict of emotions, contrast of love and hate combined with her faint laugh, the honesty and openness of her feelings in the moment bring a brief smile to Devon’s lips. He knows, he's known for a while, but hearing it brings light and warmth to his core. He brushes a thumb against her cheek to wipe away a stray tear.

As she continues baring her fears, the moment passes. Worry replaces the smile, but hope he's found holds the light in his eyes.

He doesn't have an immediate answer. And maybe there isn't one. He holds her tightly, one hand stroking the back of her head while she cries. Weight shifting from one foot to the other, he subtly, gently sways side to side. It had always been a calming motion for him in the depths of panic.

“You'll probably cuss me out.” Dev eventually offers the thought in a soft voice, a gentle tease to lift Emily's spirits. He tips his head to rest it against hers and his voice sobers. “We’re done making those mistakes. I can't promise it's always going to be safe when I'm called out, but I do promise my top priority is always to come home to you. If… years and years down the road, if I can't, I want you to promise me that you'll find happiness. That you'll use your amazing strength and courage and change the world instead of mourning.”

Devon’s ‘if’ is a statement both treating with the moment’s issue and distancing from it. It’s wonderful, in that respect, because it keeps Emily calm. Years and years and years down the road sounds so distant until he asks for her promise and her panic reminds her the need for that commitment could be now. It could be next week.

It could be Christmas.

Emily wants to ball a fist and hit him on the chest, on the shoulders— anywhere to show her hurt without actually hurting him— but she’s mollified by his swaying, his earlier humor, his gentleness. She continues to rock with him, her eyes closing. Her head turns to the side, forehead pressing against his neck.

Moments pass that way, the silence a comfort and a shield. She doesn’t want to answer, and perhaps it’s not something she’ll have to. Perhaps if she doesn’t acknowledge it, she won’t somehow jinx them both. Perhaps by staying silent, she’ll do just that. With her heart aching either way, she gives into the more comforting of the two inclinations.

"I don't want you to be sorry," she assures him without thinking, her tone still smooth. Tears fall of their own accord, her body and her brain and her heart all on different pages currently. "I just — really want for this to … not be some dream I wake up from where you're gone again."

She just continues to hold him close, like she means to for as long as he’ll possibly allow. The streaks of tears start to crisp and dry on her face.

“I’m really here,” he tells her quietly, “and I’m not going anywhere. I promise. I’m back.” He tucks a stray lock of hair behind her ear, fingers lingering for a few seconds longer before his hand drops away.

“I hope you find what you’re looking for,” Emily finally whispers to break the silence.

Dev makes a soft noise, non committal, in response to her whispering. Closure with whatever experiments he'd been put through are what he's looking for. It may be that he'll never find it in the way that he wants. Maybe this trip will bring some form of conclusion, a closing of Pandora’s Box. Perhaps it won't. Whatever he finds, he makes a silent promise to himself to accept it.

“I promise,” he says again, more quietly than before.

A hand brushes a lock of hair back from Emily's face, gently wipes away a stubborn tear. “I have found what I'm looking for,” he whispers after a moment. His head tilts into hers. Eventually he will have to leave, but not for hours yet. He hugs her tightly. Maybe it can slow the passage of time, keep morning from coming too soon. “You've been here the whole time, and I'm coming back for you as soon as this trip is over.”

Emily leans her cheek into the curve of his fingers, her eyes lifting to his. One hand snakes away from its grasp on him to rest her hand over the top of his.

"Promise me," Emily requests.

She's mellow at least until he starts making promises, her gaze settling on his uncertainly. "Hey, the last time you promised me something—" Emily starts, chidingly.

"Promise me you'll come back to me, Dev."

She ended up grieving him is true, and would be fair to say. It's a thing that did happen.

But he also is sitting before her now, too, which would mean…

"… you kept it." she admits with a weary sigh, pulling herself onto the bed with an expression somewhere between distressed and humbled.

Memories of their last conversation before Sunstone still echo in his mind. He'd made that promise then and even after dying he'd kept it. It delayed his return, but he did come back home to her. Devon’s lips curve with a small smile and his head tips forward a touch. In spite of similarities, regardless of the tiny worry that hides somewhere around his chest, he knows this trip will be different. There's no hesitancy in his commitment.

“I promise, Emily. I'm coming back to you.”

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License