Something Borrowed


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Scene Title Something Borrowed
Synopsis Under orders, Zachery comes clean to Devon about what was done with one of the samples taken from him.
Date December 3, 2019

Sheepshead Beans and Bagels, Sheepshead Bay

The message that arrived for Devon yesterday did not do so in any direct manner. It was sent to Emily, instead, who - fortunately - saw fit to play secretary.

Is Devon free on the 3rd? Tell him to meet me at Sheepshead Beans, 9.30. It's Raytech business.

It's December, and it's really fucking cold. And yet, the sender of the message finds himself outside the coffee shop - Zachery sits at an otherwise abandoned pair of scrappy metal tables, both hands wrapped around a paper cup, the liquid within breathing a pillar of warmth up into and around his unshaven face. He makes for a stark contrast of black peacoat against pale backdrop of worn down sidewalk and neglected metal and wicker chairs. It's too crowded inside - just past the window, two young adults are working to tape a plank to a sign they've written up, its written face laid flat on the floor, and yet more people stand crowded in circles of coffee-powered conversation, as if they're preparing for some sort of event.

This is not, it would seem, Zachery's jam. He'll move if he needs to, but he'll wait for what is certain to be the start of this very nice meeting he's arranged, first.

Raytech business with Doctor Miller sounds about as ominous as anything terrible that Devon has heard in recent memory. Yet, he's the dutiful sort, so when Emily's text came through with the request he was partly obligated to answer.


The walk over provided plenty of time to consider why Zachery, of all people, would look to contact him for Raytech business. Not only that, but why go through Emily instead of going to him directly. Strange. Everything about the doctor is strange, true, perhaps more so because of the guy’s past. The shadiness and antagonism made sense after learning about the Institute ties.

Devon buries his hands deeper into the pockets of his old bomber jacket as he comes into sight of the coffee shop. No answers revealed themselves to the musings that kept him occupied, and spying Zachery waiting outside only adds to the unusual nature. He sighs, breath pluming around his face in a faint haze. His eyes flick to the side as he passes the… festivities? signage? He should possibly try to pay more attention to the community events now that he's in the Safe Zone more than Rochester.

A slight shake of his head brings Dev’s attention, and a weighing look, to the older man. Be nice is a wry reminder. Followed by here goes nothing.



The name leaves Zachery like he's answering a question he'd been waiting for, after having watched Devon's approach with nary but brief raise of eyebrows. "Thank you for coming. Shall we skip the pleasantries and the part where I remind you that it's Dr. Miller?"

As if he knows the answer to that to be yes, he motions in a sweeping motion toward the coffee shop's closed door and adds, "Do you want some coffee? You may have to stand in line for a while- I think there's a strike happening soon. Somewhere. Maybe?"

Clearly he's not overly aware of community events either. But he got coffee, over the top of which he throws Devon an oh-so-patient look and a thin smile that has no home in the top half of his face.

No response is given for the reminder. If it was a reminder and not a correction. Either way it's ignored. The jury is still out on whether or not the older man actually is a doctor or just some sicko posing as one.

Devon continues to stare at Zachery, continues to size him up. It's like his years as a freedom fighter have reawakened. Another former Institute doctor once fell under that scrutiny and it left them unsettled. He has no delusions that the man in front of him will come away the same way, but it doesn't stop him from silently weighing and measuring.

“I'm good.” The young man’s response is business like. He isn't here for pleasantries or to talk about what may be happening nearby. He certainly doesn't care for the swill this particular shop tries to pass off as coffee. His brows raise slightly in an unspoken You called me here.

Zachery shows no such keenness in his slack posture, his attention trailing downward to his drink as he waits for a response. Any judging and measuring on his part has happened prior to him sitting here.

"Wonderful." He looks back up again, meeting Devon's gaze with a steady, measured confidence that his voice reflects perfectly when he says, "Very well. I took some of the blood you parted with for research, processed it, then used it for a personal project."

Just like that.

Of course he did. The thought floats through a cold void, disconnected from any other thought that Devon might possess. Outwardly, little changes. He continues to study the older man, staring nearly without blinking. The processing of the admonition is slow. Molasses at 40-below-zero would likely pour faster.

That can't be all there is, can it? They, against his better judgement, reached out to an unknown for help and this is what happens? His gaze hardens, though his expression doesn't change.

“And?” The prompt forms after a moment, softly spoken and with an edge to make the December morning feel warm in comparison. Devon's chin lifts a fraction, his composure well managed, a contrast to the anger swelling within his core.

Zachery's face lifts, and he takes a moment to drink down some of his coffee, rather than answer, as if the question is something to revel in.

"And," he says over the top of his cup, as he leans his elbows onto the table in front of him, "The experiment failed, because you shouldn't put strange substances into other people as a means to figure out…" he pauses, a shoulder coming up in a half-shrug, "… something you're not quite sure what it is yet. Bit of a buckshot approach, right. If you were trying to kill a single-celled organism. Anyway, that was it, really. Felt a bit rude to tell you on the phone." And Richard might have complained.

On a last, deadpan sort of note, he adds, "You can go now. Say hi to Emily for me, will you."

“A bit rude,” Devon returns, voice softer, edge sharper. He hangs on that idea, that what the so-called doctor had done was a bit rude and nothing more. That the effects of the theft on anyone were of no consequence. That what trust had been extended for Zachery’s help was worth nothing more than the dirt beneath their shoes. It was only a bit rude.

Anger drives through his chest like an icy railroad spike. His jaw tightens slightly, teeth press together but not hard enough to grind. A bit rude. Not even an apology. The three words float in a void without comprehension. How is it only a bit ru—

Trying the parse the absurdity of the information is cut off. Devon’s fist comes out of nowhere, thrown without so much as a blink or shift in expression. He hadn't planned on taking a swing at Zachery and yet the casual, disassociated dismissal hit him like a match to fuel. Bare knuckles cut through the air and plow straight for the bridge of the doctor's nose.

It hits the mark, with a crack. Though Zachery being seated robs the punch's effect of any significant movement in return, it still catches him sufficiently off-guard to have coffee go splashing over his fingers and coat.

Several of the people inside the nearby shop turn their heads, one after the other, their voices muted from behind the glass barrier as they watch.

The response from Zachery himself is, perhaps, less strongly than should be expected - his face is turned down and away, eyes closed, brow furrowing as a familiar bunch of sensations rise to the forefront of his mind and blood starts leaking slowly downward from his nostrils and right into the cup he's still holding. Convenient.

Jaw muscles tightening, he just… raises one hand in front of his now slightly off-center nose, palm outward toward Devon. Through gritted teeth and with pain clear on his face and in his voice, he asks after a halfswallowed back note of pain, "Why don't you punch Richard too, he knew and didn't tell you."

Devon seems just as caught off guard by his own actions. It does nothing to temper his anger, he definitely doesn’t feel better about the situation or anything that he’s learned. Fingers flex as a stiffness sets in, hand lowered again to his side. His eyes slide to the window, to the looky-loos who, at least to his best guess, didn’t see the actual punch but were reactively drawn to the sudden movement outside. The way a cat leaps into the window after a bird has flown by.

Words, a protest to Zachery’s question, begins forming. His gaze shifts off the faces in the window to settle on the other man. His mouth works, but the protest dies before it’s given voice, incinerated by the icy flames that still burn within. Of course Richard knew and didn’t tell him. Probably, likely, due to the security risk that hides inside his brain.

“Yeah, Richard’ll be hearing from me too.” Devon’s voice is barely a murmur, the edge in it has been honed to a dangerously sharp level. “In fact.” Pausing, he pulls his phone from a hip pocket. “You’re coming with. I’m done with the games and being nothing more than a card in anyone’s deck, we’re doing this my way.” His thumbs tap away at the screen of his phone, working out a message while he speaks. Once finished, Dev looks up at Zachery, brows raised over a hardened expression. He’s not going to accept any arguments.

"I have-"

Zachery starts through his teeth but stops, moving the hand in front of his face to gingerly place his fingers on the crooked bridge of his nose. This is the second time in two weeks that he's broken it, but this does not make it any less painful. Through the distracting brainhaze, he almost looks like he'll think better of arguing while blood's already - again - trickling down into the collar of his coat.

"I have things to do today, Clendaniel. Richard is the one who fucking told me to tell you." But he's barely finished the words before adding, in a somewhat deflated plea, "Make it fast, at least."

He's already sitting anyway. Could be worse. Even if the tired look he casts down into the bloodied coffee cup he's somehow still holding and bleeding into is a good few measures less than cheerful.

“Great.” Dev’s told is flat. “One of those things is coming with me so I can fucking tell the both of you a few things.” He returns his phone to his pocket and motions for the doctor to come along.

A little bit later…

Raytech, CEO’s Office

If Devon hadn't texted, the interruption of a heavy knock on the door to Richard’s office would likely have been a surprise. Not to mention that Sera would have been spooked worse than she already was when he pushed through the door into the lobby with Zachery in tow. She'll find apology donuts on her desk the next morning though.

Three sharp taps are all resound against the office door. The young man at least remembers decorum enough to not barge right in. He doesn't call for Richard either, although the urge is there. To squash it, he looks aside to Zachery, his gaze still cold and hard.

Zachery meets Devon's gaze with a look of thinly veiled exhaustion. He hasn't wasted any time, really very compliant for his doing - though this does mean that the lower half of his face is still flecked with dried blood, the bridge of his nose crooked and swelling. At least he ditched the blood coffee. "You know," he starts in a hoarse whisper, leaning a little closer to Devon as if sharing valuable information, "I skipped the knocking and just barrelled on in here a few days ago, he loves it, really."

Richard, for the record, does not love it.

“Come in,” he calls from inside, the door’s lock disengaging to allow the pair to enter.

At which point an adorable kitten— well, a cat now, but he doesn’t seem to have realized it— bounds up to rub against Devon’s feet and ankles affectionately.

The CEO’s leaning back in his chair, eyebrows raised a bit as he asks dryly, “So what can I do for you, Devon?” As if he doesn’t know.

The cat is acknowledged with a glance. A brow ticks up slightly at the affection, but Devon refrains from engaging. He's here for a purpose that has nothing to do with socializing with wee beasties — although there does seem to be some mild tempering to his demeanor that wasn’t produced by the walk over.

“It's no big deal,” he begins drily, a look slanted at Zachery. “But I thought it would be a bit rude to make this statement over the phone.”

He steps over the cat, turning a hard look to Richard. “Your man-child, Zachery, thought it prudent to inform me that he stole the samples he was requested to analyze for a personal project? And you knew about it? What the actual fuck, Richard! Was this authorized by Raytech? Or you just figure, what the hell, Devon can't be fucked over any worse so why not?”

"— It was not authorised by anyone," Zachery interjects immediately, lingering in the doorway with wry amusement at yet another newly earned nickname. But grinning and freshly broken noses don't particularly get along, and a pang of pain has his expression fall back to a tired neutral again. "I did say personal project, didn't I."

He leans a shoulder into the open door, aiming his eye at Richard over the edge of a sleeve that he presses gingerly to his upper lip in case of more bleeding.

“As Miller says,” Richard observes with a somewhat-dirty look at the man in the doorway, “It was not authorized, nor approved of. We found out about the time that a friend of his showed up dying of Hydra syndrome because someone had the idiotic idea that injecting it into her would do something other than start necrotizing her cellular structure.”

He brings a hand up, fingers rubbing over his face, “As for not telling you— I wanted to get more information about the situation and what exactly happened to the missing sample. Once Miller showed back up, I had him tell you himself, because I thought you should hear it from the guilty party.”

“Personal projects can still be authorized by employers,” Devon deadpans at Zachery. Especially such projects that could, potentially, become beneficial for the employer. He would hope that Richard wouldn’t engage in activities such as those. Zachery’s revelation, however, has made him question where his places his trust.

“I appreciate that,” he gruffs after a beat. He angles a look at Zachery. The desire to do a lot more than just punch the man in the face is obvious, but he refrains.

“Given the circumstances, I’m going to be reporting this to Major Epstein.” Dev looks at Richard, angry still — the man he frequently refers to as Uncle would recognize the simmering temper, the cold storm that drew him into the war nine years ago — but with a shadowing of apology. “Was anything else done? Are there more personal projects of Miller’s that I should be aware of?”

It is at this point that the reason for Zachery's lingering in the doorway becomes evident. Can't lock the door when it's still open, can you. Fool me once, yadda yadda.

He steps backwards and out of the room with a somewhat strained but quickfire ramble of- "That's a negative on the 'anything else', anyway, I have to go to the hospital now because of the nose that you broke, aaaaand I'llseeyouinjail, I suppose."

A real, actual possibility. But what's he going to do about it at this point, really. Zipping out of the room and away is maybe a bad impulse but knowing that's never stopped Zachery from doing something before.

“There had better not be,” Richard says tightly, watching Zachery backing away before looking to Devon again, “And as you think best — send Epstein to talk to me if he feels the need to press anything.”

The kitten continues to rub over Devon’s ankles, even as the CEO asks, “Is there anything else?”

“Yeah, there is.” Devon barely waits for Zachery to clear the doorway before he pushes it closed. The kitten is regarded again, then gathered up for chin scritching. “Why.” His tone loses some of its edge when he turns back to Richard. “Why would you wait to tell me about anything like that? Why would you let an asshole like him continue… I don’t know.” Breathing? Existing? He isn’t a cold blooded murderer, but the injustice and broken trust have him rattled enough to let such thoughts whisper at the cracks.

He shakes his head and sets the kitten down upon a chair. “I’m not a kid anymore. I took a leap of faith that he’d be helping us, given that you know him. And for reasons I’ll never understand, Emily seems to trust him. And… what the fuck am I supposed to do?”

“Emily shouldn’t trust him. You shouldn’t trust him…” Richard breathes out a sigh, sinking to rest an arm against the desk and looking down at the black surface of his desk and the faint reflection that answers him from the look.

“I waited because if he’d killed her, you would’ve blamed yourself at some level,” he says quietly, “And I wanted to know if he had, or not. And I’m keeping him here because— he wasn’t always a monster, Devon.”

He looks up, “Nobody always was. But the Institute made monsters of everyone. And that was a version of me, Devon, and no matter what people say— at some level I understand why he did everything he did.”

“I sure as fucking hell don’t trust him now,” Devon replies darkly. He angles a look at the door, his visage as cold and calm as if he were lining up a shot through a scope. “And I wish Emily would see past whatever facade he’s put up for her.”

He sighs and looks back at Richard. “So what do I do? Let it go, pretend like it never happened? Let it be excusable fallout because of what the Institute did? I should report it. To SESA as well as Avi.”

“I don’t mean you shouldn’t trust him because he’s evil, I mean you shouldn’t trust him because he’s a pawn…” Richard breathes out a sigh, sinking back in his chair, “He’s… easily manipulated. By his friends, by everyone. I need to keep him here so I can keep him from getting involved with someone that’ll turn him into a real monster.”

Regretfully, he admits, “And I’m not succeeding. He’s too far gone, maybe, but I have to keep trying. You— the only fallout was to him and his friend, who asked for this to begin with. You can tell Epstein, but I hope you don’t report it to SESA. If he crosses the line again..”

A shake of his head, “He’ll be dealt with.”

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