Supplies Don't Run Themselves


devon_icon.gif jaiden_icon.gif jared_icon.gif

Scene Title Supplies Don't Run Themselves
Synopsis Jaiden and Devon make the first physical run to WRAY homestead.
Date June 4, 2012

WRAY Station, Middle of Nowhere

Here we go, on the road again
Like a band of Gypsies we go down the highway

It’s at least the third time since starting out from Minnesota that Devon’s managed to tune into that song.

We're the best of friends
Insisting that the world keep turnin' our way

He’s at least not singing along this time. Jaiden should be thankful for that.

This time, the young man has it cranked up a little on the loud side. Especially with the truck windows down, it’s loud enough to draw some looks. Luckily enough, there’s not many others at the gas-n-go. A couple of cars are parked in front of the little dive-looking restaurant and there’s one pulled around the side of the attached store — probably the one that belongs to the owner-operator of the site.

Devon himself is leaning against the hood of the truck, staring at a map that’s half unfolded. A pen rests between his teeth as a finger traces first one road, then a second. Brows furrow with the effort of his concentration. Somewhere on there is their location. He just hasn’t found it yet.

The fact that there are still radio signals to be had in the middle of nowhere where they are (drive until you want to die, turn left) is a thankful one. The doom and gloom prophets on the AM radio have long faded away or, in the case of one anti-evolved one, were turned off for the sweet sound of engines running as they drove down the highway.

Jaiden rattles the nozzle of the gas pump in the fuel tank and locks it on, the red tanks in the back brimmed with unleaded too. “It was lucky you found this place. Luckier that it’s off the beaten path and still sells gas.” He stabs the wand back into the pump and heads in to pay for their fuel, bartering some hard metal currency for fuel - stuff that anyone will take, even in the middle of a war.

Emerging a bit later with a six pack of soda and some sandwiches, he leans against the hood of the truck and places the sandwich and drinks within grabbing distance, glancing at the map as he eats. “Last place we were was….” he prompts, lifting a brow. “And we drove an hour south on 60 to Sioux City, then had to detour off of 29 when we saw that roadblock. Then 75 south and that means we’re….” He’s giving Devon all the pieces to figure out where they are - a bit of impromptu training.

“Still ten minutes away,” Devon answers. His finger presses against a point on the map, no name to give it any importance. Most of the land around is flat and former farmland — with the occasional pit stop such as the one they found. “But we need to backtrack to that access road or we’ll pass it.” He pours over the map a moment longer, even after he’s finished speaking, then folds it up again.

“Guess we could’ve made it. Gassed up on our way back north instead.” But then they’d have missed hearing Willie Nelson for a third time that day. He shrugs as he looks up at Jaiden. “On the road again,” he belts out with a grin before taking himself to the passenger door to climb into the truck.

“We could have.” Jaiden says, climbing in the driver’s seat after packing away the rest of the six pack and getting rid of their trash. “You have to take your advantages when you can. Now we’re sure to make it and we can get most of the way back past all that crap in Sioux City without having to stop.” Firing up the engine, he gives Devon a squeeze on the shoulder. “Good job. I was checking to see if you even noticed the access road. You’re getting good at observation.” He puts the truck into gear and pulls out on to the road, heading to where they need to be.

They drive through farmland for several minutes, taking lefts and rights on farm to market roads that are paved, then dirt ones, and then ideas of roads at best, the truck easily making it through the ruts. It’s only at a distance that they see a fence marked with yellow ‘No Trespassing’ signs and a gate held closed by a bit of metal. “Bet you $10 this is the spot.” He gets out of the car and opens the gate, drives through, and sends Devon out to close and lock it behind.

A few more minutes up a dirt track and then… pavement. Flat pavement leading to a depression in the ground, a small house, and a radio antenna poking up just above the roofline.

As the truck pulls up near the building where Richard Cardinal, now known as Richard Ray, has settled his small part of the group that was once Endgame, the grate across the dirt track rattles. The pavement is clearly older, not kept up as well as it could be, but fully functional. And by the time Jaiden stops the truck and moves to get out of it, there is a lanky older man standing at the outer door of the house watching them. Although they’ve not met in person, the three men in the yard have certainly spoke in the past, and Jared Harrison’s piercing blue eyes study the two travelers with an expression that could be considered wary. Or perhaps just assessing.

He comes down off the porch, unarmed, and stops far enough back to be safe as he queries, “Mortlock?” At the brief grin that appears, he visibly relaxes and completes his approach, hand outstretched to shake first Jaiden’s and then Devon’s. “It’s good to finally have a face to put with the voices,” he tells them. “Was the trip bad?”

It sounds so innocuous, but they all know that things could get dicey anytime, and Jared Harrison’s eyes skim past the truck automatically. The up side to being out in the flattest land the man has ever been in his life is that you can see ‘em coming about 10 miles thataway in any direction. “Run into any trouble?”

“There’s a detour near Sioux City,” Devon supplies as he shakes the man’s hand. “Other than that, there wasn’t much.” Today, at least, there wasn’t much aside from plains land, fields for miles. A good thing, that there hasn’t been much action in their neck of the woods so far.

He takes a step back to let Jaiden and Jared exchange pleasantries. After lingering for a beat, Dev steps around to the back of the truck to toss back a tarp and begin unloading supplies. Those things he starts pulling off are stacked neatly, if not with particular organization, on the porch just aside of the steps.

The truck has a few guns secreted away, here and there. Handguns in the pockets of the door, a long rifle behind the seat, and a shotgun under the dashboard for emergencies. Thankfully, they’ve never had to pull them out but it’s nice to have them there. Just in case.

“Jaiden Mortlock, sir. Pleasure.” He steps closer, giving the man a firm handshake, using his cane to support himself. “And no, not too bad. Just…annoying. No-one really paid us much attention.” Yay for having license plates of each state they go through.

He shifts the cane from his left hand to his right, supporting himself a little easier as Devon starts to unload the truck, a little frown appearing. He wishes he could help.

Jared’s handshake is firm and he moves to start helping the young man get things down off the truck bed. He moves with a wiry kind of strength despite the fact that he’s not exactly young. Still, Elisabeth’s father is no slouch, clearly. He handles the boxes passed to him with an ease that speaks to familiarity with manual labor. “I’ll make a note of it,” he says in reply to the detour. Because the information will get passed on.

As he takes things toward the house, he jerks a chin toward the porch. “Have a seat. Richard’s in the shack broadcasting, but we’ve got plenty of time before dinner. Harm’s getting the monsters into their beds, so it’s probably best we stay outside for a bit.”

When Jared joins in the unloading, Devon pauses to look at him. He’s momentarily surprised, but after a second or two he’s back to work. Nothing out of the ordinary, just a little unexpected. He’d thought the two older men would take a few minutes to chat and catch up.

As supplies in the back of the truck thin out, Dev climbs into the bed to shuffle things into easier reach, and eventually climbs out again to cart the last of the delivery to the porch.

“I’m Devon,” he fills in, once all the supplies are offloaded and waiting to be taken inside. “I usually let Jaiden answer the calls. And…” He shrugs. If there’s an and, he’s not really sure what else to say.

Its where Jaiden would be, in the back of the truck helping out if he could carry more than his own weight and a cane. The lightning strike took a lot out of him. If he knew a healing-type evolved, he'd see about getting this taken care of, but for now their powers are needed for more important things than this.

Jaiden sits on the porch and watches, the cane held tightly between both hands, his mouth an expressive line. He sees a lot of Elisabeth in the man and that is hitting him kind of hard. He's not going to lose it, but his voice may crack, now and again.

“And nothing. You're Devon, you do a lot of good work, and you're here to meet Lizzie’s father fade to face.” Jaiden gestures to the pile. “I think we got most of what you were hunting. A few things are getting hard to get. I did include some chocolate for the girls and some antibiotics and vitamins to help make up for sickness and deficiency from diet. Just in case.” Chances are that there are pounds of the stuff in the bunker, but this could be used for trading or what have you. He pauses. “How’s Cardinal holding up? And how about you? Everything okay here?”

Jared has the same economy of motion that Liz exhibited — job needs doing, shortest line between to points to get it done — though it’s more in the way he studies things that his daughter’s resemblance to him can be seen. The same blue eyes that miss very little as they skim over the supplies being dropped off and the men bringing them. “It’s good to meet you, Devon. I’ve managed to finally get everyone’s names and locations straight, but it’s a hell of a lot easier when you have a face to go with the name and voice.” Jared’s smile is easy on the younger male, but he is clearly not counting him a ‘child.’

Once the supplies are stacked on the porch, where they can be easily moved into the house when Harmony’s given the all-clear, Jared says simply, “I”ll fill you in in a second. Excuse me.” He disappears into the house for less than 3 minutes, and when he comes back out, it’s with a pitcher and cups. “Used a few of the teabags to make sun tea,” he confessed with a bit of a grin. “Figured maybe you could use the pick-me-up after that drive. How’s the leg doing?”

He gives the impression of affable and easygoing, but Jaiden likely notices that the man’s eyes are never still. He’s constantly on watch and even as the older man lowers himself to sit on the porch, one foot pulled a step higher than the other so he can rest his elbow on the raised knee, he has a solid awareness of things going on within his vicinity.

“Richard is… holding up as well as can be expected, I suppose. Hard to tell some days, but… he smiles sometimes now. Mostly at the kids.” Jared’s own demeanor is perhaps a little ragged as well. “It seems Elisabeth was close to a lot of people. I’m only really just coming to understand how many,” the older man admits. “Ygraine came by… she brought some things.” His blue eyes flicker away and then back to Jaiden. “Until she came, I … had no idea about some of the things that were important in her life.” It clearly makes him just a little uncomfortable, but … whatever Ygraine brought him, it seems important to the older man that they at least know he understands their ties to his daughter. “My daughter considered you family, and that doesn’t change just because she’s not here anymore.” Elisabeth left him with a far bigger family than he had a clue about, and he’s clearly a little nonplussed at the notion still, the quirk of a grin awkward. “I was given very clear instructions on what to do about my grandchildren-by-proxy,” he admits on a laugh.

Devon remains standing, hands going to rest in his hip pockets and his posture showing his ease of being in unfamiliar territory to all but the acutely observant. He’s not totally, and likely Jared would recognize that almost as easily as Jaiden can. He lets his gaze wander over the front of the house and to the sides, making the route around to even over his shoulder, to the old worn road that brought he and Jaiden there.

“Liz’s dad.” He muses, voice pitched mostly to himself. One corner of his mouth tugs upward to a small, crooked grin. “Nice to meet you, too,” Devon tacks on in normal tones, attention and head swiveling back around to the two men on the porch. “Guess that makes you Grandad Harrison then.” Though made as a statement, there’s a lingering impression of a question at the end.

The sun tea is taken gratefully, Jaiden rising to his feet to take the glass, lowering himself to the seat on the porch. And he watches, and listens, and nods when it's time to nod and makes approving sounds when it's right to make them. The thing is, he’s face to face with Jared. Not the subway guy. Not the jeweler. The closest thing he has to a father in law.

“It's getting better.” Jaiden says about his leg and arm. “Slowly getting stronger. Might be able to do a little running, assuming I can find a physical therapist or a healer that will work on a half-busted Aussie.”

And then he mentions Liz and family.

“That we are, sir. It may not be the usual arrangement, but yes, we are. She kept a lot of things in the dark, mostly for your safety. I don't know how much you heard or know, or what Richard has told you, but Lizzie was….is one of the most powerful forces I have ever experienced in my life. She led people with her personality and grit. She just….”. He shakes his head. “Richard and ENDGAME? I wasn't following them because of him. I was following them because your daughter believed in him and that was good enough for me. Fairly sure that was a bunch of them, too.” He gets to his feet, leaving the tea on the arm of his chair and makes his way to the truck and rummages around in it for a moment, returning with a small black box, like the kind you would find in a necktie in, tied with red string. “I want to do this now, in the light and the warmth of the sun.” Jaiden looks out over the prairie, letting out a sigh. “She would have liked it here. Being with the twins. With you. This would have made her happy, for a little while. “.

Jaiden steps closer to Jared. “This is…well…a little of what I have left of Lizzie. If you want, I have some of her photo albums at home and can bring them by. They're full of people you may not know,, but this…”. He offers the box to Jared. “I think you and Cardinal could use this. At least to say goodbye.” He unites the string and opens the box.

The box, once opened, reveals a lock of Elisabeth’s hair, lavender and blonde, curled on itself. A small bit of what Jaiden has left of the woman he loves.

Jared laughs outright at Grandad Harrison. “Well… you can call me whatever you like,” he tells Devon. “Just know that you meant a lot to Liz, and whatever you need that I can help with, I will.” His gaze is serious on the young man. “This isn’t the life any of us hoped for our kids, you know? But… we’ll make do the best we can. The important bit is having people you know have your back.”

He looks curious as Jaiden makes his way off the porch, exchanging a querying look with Devon. When the Australian comes back, the words — the entire gesture — renders Jared rigid on the porch, stunned disbelief in his face as he stares at the box. Pushing himself to his feet, the older man reaches out to finger the silky length of hair, unable to say a thing. His jaw clenches tightly and there is a long moment while he stares at the locks in the box, touching but not taking them. He looks up at Jaiden, tears clear in his blue eyes, and says firmly, “You should keep that. It’s yours.”

He turns his back on the two men, walking back to the porch with his hands on his hips, staring at the ground for a long few moments. The set of his shoulders makes clear that he’s struggling for composure, but when he turns back around, he has it in spades. Looking between them, he clears his throat. “I’m sorry. You took me by surprise. Jaiden… you do with it as you will. I… honestly can’t tell you if that would make things better or worse for Richard. So you’ll have to do as you see fit.” But he won’t take a keepsake as precious as that from someone for whom it was meant.

When the box is produced, Devon’s grin falters a little. He recognizes that box. He didn’t know Jaiden was bringing it along, or that he’d be offering it up to Elisabeth’s father and the family holding down this half of the fort. But just the knowing of the contents of the box makes it difficult for him to meet Jared’s gaze; still, he tries. His lips press together as he watches the interaction between the two men, looking away when composure appears to crack just a little.

The boy’s gaze angles after Jared when he moves away, then lifts to Jaiden with brows slightly raised in question. It’s an expression that he answers himself with a small shrug, then shifts to concern when the elder man returns to the porch.

“Of course, of course. I just thought I'd offer.” The box is taken back the hair touched a couple of times and then closed, tied tightly with the string and returned to the truck without a word. He didn't tell Devon because Jaiden didn't know he was doing it himself until he was in the middle of it happening. He's definitely Elisabeth’s father, with that spine of iron. That much is certain. He rests a hand on Devon's shoulder, giving it a squeeze and a pat before retaking his seat on the porch.

“What do the twins call you, Jared?” Jaiden asks softly, looking to the house where silence is starting to build, then to the west, into the setting sun.

The older man still has his hands on his hips, a wide stance that he shifts a bit to one a bit less aggressive, shoving his hands in his pockets and bringing his elbows in. “Nothing as yet,” Jared replies. “I think Harmony is planning on Grandpa, but I’m not sure she’s settled completely on it. Probably whatever the hell thing they come up with.” There’s a small sigh and a pained look. “Small kids have a tendency to determine for themselves what they’ll use. As long as it doesn’t sound stupid.”

He scuffs a foot along the driveway for a moment. “Never really thought about what I’d want to be called. Didn’t really expect her to…” Jared swallows hard. “Goes to show, huh?”

Letting his gaze settle somewhere between the two older men, Devon listens to the conversation. His mouth twists slightly with his thoughts, but he refrains from adding anything for the immediate moment.


“I’m going to call you Pops.” Dev, without actually looking at either Jaiden or Jared, shrugs as he makes his statement. And the odd decision to include someone he’s only just met into his own, personal, inner circle. “Grandad’s just… too formal, you know?”

“Yeah, well, none of us ever expected it, but it happened and we have to put up with it. I know now than most, I reckon.” The Aussie slang creeps in a little. At that declaration, though, Jaiden stops, looking at Devon. It seems that bit of Devon was exactly what Jaiden needed. “Pops” gets a soft chuckle out of Jaiden and then, some chuckles that won't stop. And then, finally, then a laugh, the big man letting out a lot of pent up frustration, slapping his good knee with one hand. “Well. That settles it, then, Pops. I claimed Devon as my son, and Liz was more’re less mom to him, so by default…you've got an additional grandson.” Jaiden snickers again. “He doesn't eat very much and works like a horse. I'm proud to have him, and I bet you will be too.” He laughs. “Pops.”

Pops?? Jared opens his mouth to say something, and then Jaiden starts laughing. Like…. really laughing. And it’s somewhat contagious as the older man starts chuckling too. Shaking his head, looking at the sky, he looks rather amused and put-upon at the same time. “Really?” he asks the cloudless blue expanse. “Really. You leave me a passel of irreverent grandchildren and your boyfriends to take care of? L’il girl, you are a piece of work.”

Throwing his hands up into shrugging hands, Jared just says, “Pops it is.” His laughter is genuine, though there’s a shadow of pain in the words. With his wife and daughter both dead, it would be very easy for Jared Harrison to either become vengeful and rage-filled or to disappear into the hurt and pain, drowning his sorrow in a bottle or even a shotgun. Instead, his daughter has left him a legacy of people to take care of… and it seems as if perhaps she knew her father well, Jared would have to admit. Because he will do exactly that, as strange and unusual as he finds her world to have been. “You guys are making me more gray than Elisabeth ever dreamed of. And the woman was a cop and a goddamn rebel leader,” he says, rolling his eyes.

“As an irreverent grandchild, I guess it’s my job to be making you gray.” Devon looks between Jared and Jaiden, brows ticking upward a fraction. He tries to look more serious, to match the almost deadpan of his voice. “And you think it’s bad now… I mean, Jaiden’s going a little gray too, and he’s known me for a while now.” He can’t quite keep the grin from twitching around his mouth, though.

“Devon.” Jaiden’s tone is mirthful. “Don’t antagonize your newly-adopted grandfather. God knows what’ll happen if he decides to disown you after ten minutes of knowing you. What does that say about how I raised you?” He chuckles. “The girls at the sewing circle would absolutely kill me.” Sewing circle? He must mean back home at Kabetogama, Ygraine and Remi and whoever else showed up to join their small family.

His eyes train up at his bangs, which are fine, but the salt and pepper is starting to progress from the back of his head to the sides, the man shaking his head a little. “Just shows how much I’ve put into you, you’re sucking the color out of me like an Evolved I knew named Colette, way back in the Ferry days.” Jaiden reaches over to pat Devon’s shoulder. “You’re worth the effort, though. All of this was. Keeping people safe and secure is what we do.”

There’s a chuff of laughter from Jared as he crosses his arms, settling his weight easily on the balls of his feet. “I’m reasonably certain if I even thought about disowning one of them,” he retorts with kind of wistful amusement, “my daughter’d find a way to shove her combat boot up my ass. So consider yourself well and truly adopted, the both of you.” For a moment he looks serious, and then the wicked grin shows.

“God gave us grandchildren as presents for putting up with our kids, you know,” he informs Devon. “Jaiden gets to do all the hard stuff, I get to just have fun with you.”

Pulling in a long breath, he says, “Come on. I’ll show you guys around the place. By then, Richard will be done with the radio and I’m betting dinner will be almost ready.”

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