The Houseguest


devon_icon.gif richard_icon.gif

Scene Title The Houseguest
Synopsis There's some sounder advice offered, and some talk about shop, when Devon crashes at Richard's apartment for the night.
Date August 24, 2018

Raytech Richard's Apartment

It’s late in the evening, if somewhere near 9 pm could still be thought of as evening. It’s late enough that some people are probably headed to bed with plans for an early morning commute to work. Normally, Devon would be retreating to his dorm room and engaging in some Super Mario Kart before his early morning. But instead he’s sent a text to Richard to seek asylum for the night. And maybe the next. It’s undetermined. Somehow, in the course of seeking refuge, he also managed to talk the older man into sending a car to retrieve him from the Elmhurst Hospital and deliver him to the residence, and even in the course of that found himself with an escort.

Thus it came to be, just before 10 pm, that Devon Clendaniel was standing at Richard’s front door, shadowed by one of Raytech’s finest in secret service.

Leaning against a crutch, the young man knocks on the door. No sense in texting now, though he did let the other man know when the car had reached the property, it would be silly to send a message standing right outside the door. Five solid taps against the door are followed by a hop-shuffle as Dev scoots back a step to wait. And hope Richard is still awake. The possibility that he isn’t draws a glance toward his escort then away again.

As usual, there were guards at the gates of the facility; the on-site corporate housing equally guarded, if not more so, although they’ve clearly been told to clear Devon through.

Although he’s given a lanyard and cautioned not to take it off outside of private housing, of course, just like every other time he’s arrived. Just what would happen, nobody’s ever said.

The door’s answered when there’s a knock, leaving Richard standing there with an eyebrow’s raise upwards. “Well, you look like hell, kid,” he says dryly, “C’mon in.”

He steps out of the way, dressed in sweats and a wife-beater shirt, sweeping an arm to invite him in. The room’s decor is utilitarian; the furniture is all nice, and expensive, but there’s little in the way of personal touches. The coffee table just holds the most recent technology magazines - okay, last month's, imported from Europe since publishing isn't that great in the U.S. these days - and there's only a handful of movies on DVD in the entertainment system. It's clean, sterile, empty. Ten minutes of work would make it look like nobody ever lived here at all, assuming he'd done the bed.

“Parting gifts from Fort Irwin,” Devon remarks, leaving that snark to be explanation enough. He clomps through the door, but stops after only a few steps past Richard to turn and look at him.

“Sorry.” It’s a lame start to why he’d ask to crash, but given the hour it might make some sense. “I didn’t want to wake Jaiden’s girls, and going back to the Bunker didn’t sound great just now.” It’s a rambly explanation, the sort that he’d been known for as a teenager. Dev pushes a shoulder up slightly in a half shrug. He half steps, directionless, then leans into his crutches.

“Sorry.” That apology again. “It’s been a crazy evening.”

“Couch.” Richard sweeps a hand in that direction, closing the door with a shake of his head, “It’s alright, it’s alright. Trust me, I understand needing to… get away for a little while.”

His tone wry as he steps along towards the kitchen, inquiring, “Want something to drink? So what happened to your leg, anyway? Hunter?”

“Explosion.” Devon hop-shuffles away from the entryway to the couch. He twists and eases himself down onto the couch, letting out a breath once he’s seated. “Chunk of metal ripped through just above my knee.”

He drags a hand over his face then rubs the back of his neck. “Getting away…” Dev breathes out a short laugh. “Yeah. I might need to get away for a while. I don’t know.” He’s beginning to ramble again, so he takes an intentional breath and looks toward the kitchen. “Can I ask you a question?”

There wasn’t an answer, so Richard pours Devon a drink anyway; one for himself, one for the younger man, walking back into the room and offering one out. Then he’s easing himself into the loveseat, glass cradled between his hands.

“Just so long as Gitelman doesn’t kick in my door looking for you,” he observes wryly, “And of course, shoot.”

The glass is given a surprised look, but Devon takes it. The offer was probably missed, but he’s thankful for the drink anyway. “I doubt it, she’d probably call me first.” At least, he thinks she would. He shakes his head.

“So…” He drags the word out, brows drawing together as he tries to piece together his question. “Will… Will a girl ever give you a real chance to …I guess start over? If first meetings went totally south?”

At that, Richard lets out a bark of laughter. He motions towards the younger man with his glass, one brow lifting as he states in amused tones, “You never heard how me and Liz met, I take it…”

A sip of the whiskey, and he explains once he lowers the vessel again, “She arrested me for breaking and entering, her and her partner dragged me downtown, forced me to take a SLC-E test, go on the registry, the whole nine yards.”

The laugh catches Devon off guard and he shoots a questioning look at Richard. The story, brief as it is, has him shaking his head and grinning faintly with disbelief. “Seriously. But Liz…” For as long as he’d known her, she never seemed the type to hold a grudge. He shrugs and tips back a small swallow from his own glass.

“I don’t know. Maybe she’ll hear me out. Maybe it’s just one big mistake to try” He takes another sip, because that seems better than dwelling on the what-ifs.

“We only live once, kid,” Richard observes, gesturing with the glass, “And you never know when you might lose everything. If you like her, give it a try, worst you can get is that she says no.”

“So, who is this girl that you’re into,” he asks curiously, bringing the glass to his lips again for another swallow.

The question is regarded carefully and silently. Not because of who the girl in question is, but because he’s not sure if he’s into her or not. Given the two times he’s run into her, Devon’s almost convinced that he should shrug it off and let it go. However, there’s also this nagging desire to change her opinion of him.

So at first the younger man shrugs. “Did you see that girl at the Yamagato party? She left the bar all angry.” It was a while ago, but that micro-fiasco might have drawn some looks inside. He knows it drew more than a few outside. “Her name’s Emily. I don’t know if I’m into her, I mean… maybe just friends… Eventually?” Hopefully?

“I mean, I saw a lot of girls at the celebration,” Richard admits in wry tones, lowering the glass and using it to gesture towards Devon, “Emily doesn’t ring a bell, though. Well, apologize, admit you were being a fucking idiot - whether or not you think you were - and see what happens from there. The apology and the ‘fucking idiot’ part aren’t optional, though.”

“I tried.” And failed. Miserably. Devon scratches at the side of his neck. “I’m not sure what happened that made it tank. Anyway. I ran into her again at the Elmhurst Hospital. She’s… not exactly upset but… Anyway I told her then and there that I wanted to apologize and make things right. Wrote my phone number down on a napkin and left it with her.”

He looks suddenly like he wants to laugh. He does chuckle a little bit, with his empty hand holding his sides. “I’m so dead.”

“Oh, Jesus Christ.” Richard’s free hand rubs over his face, “I can only help you so far. Now you’re in the hands of the ‘should I call him’ devil, and that is territory where I can’t help you. Seriously, pursuing her more at this point falls into ‘stalker’ territory, so— “

He points at the younger man, “Just wait and see, or move on.”:

“Give me, shit, I don’t want to talk about romance right now,” he chuckles, “Give me a report or something, what’ve you all been up to over there?”

“A lot of Super Nintendo.” The answer is quick, and far too seriously stated to be a lie and Devon is quite willing to change the subject. Even though he brought it up, talking about reconciliation and hopeful friendships is awkward at best. “I’m stuck trying to beat the star level in Super Mario Kart.”

He shifts a little, to offer a better explanation than his earlier brush off. “Since getting back from Fort Irwin, it’s been a lot of rest and recovery. Leg got tore up from some monster-sized shrapnel.” Dev motions toward Richard to punctuate his next point. “And some automatic fire burned out my armor and broke ribs. So I’m pushing papers and pretending to vacation until I’m healed again.”

“Nintendo…” Richard grins, shaking his head a little, “Christ. I remember Hadley refusing to buy me one of those things. ‘It rots your brain, go climb some trees or something’. She regretted saying that, but…” A swig of the liquor, and he gestures with it, “So what happened at Irwin, anyway? You get the bitch?”

Devon doesn’t answer immediately. He swills the liquid in his cup then drains it before he begins dredging up the most recent mission. “I wasn’t part of that strike,” he explains of the bitch, after clearing his throat, “but I’m to understand that yes, they got her.”

He looks down at his empty glass, twisting it between his fingers. The mission is still fairly fresh in his mind, and obviously a lot went down that he’s still processing internally. “We also got Valentin,” the young man continues after a beat. “Sort of. Coward had explosives strapped to his chest. Tried to blow up my entire team, but…” Obviously that didn’t happen. “Something strange was going on with his fighters. Never seen it before, where a man gets shot two, three times and gets back up fighting.”

Shaking his head, Dev looks up at Richard. “So we ran interference, kept the enemy from taking the fight to the civilians. It was business as usual until they started coming back to life. We cleared the first location and moved to the second. Ran into Hunters — the cat type, four of them — then one of the large quadrupeds. That’s when Valentin showed up. It was a trap, I caught some guys laying in wait behind the robot. But Valentin’s dead, some more robots are destroyed, and Mayes is finished.”

Richard’s still for a long moment, regarding the young man with an unreadable expression.

“Valentin,” he says, a bit flatly, as if he barely believe the report, “Valentin was supposed to be dead already… and you say he had a suicide vest?”

The executive’s lips purse tightly for a moment, and then he takes a swig of his drink, head tilting back to look up towards the ceiling. “Something’s not right there, that… doesn’t make sense. What about Pendragon? Hector Steel, did your team find him?”

“I know. With luck he’s dead for good this time.” The image of the explosion point isn’t something Dev had seen himself, being on the far side of the robot and unable to get himself up and to his team, but he’d heard. Pieces of the Humanis First leader who should have been long dead left in the wake of the explosion. “It’s hard to come back from blowing yourself up.”

Devon drags a hand across the back of his neck as he thinks about the name Hector Steel. It’s not one he recognizes. “No, I don’t know about him, I don’t think the other teams even saw him.” He’s sure someone would have mentioned it, if any of them had seen or heard of that guy.

“Hector Steel, Braxton Pendragon…” Richard waves a hand vaguely, “Volundr— the man had more aliases than I did, I’m honestly not even sure which was his real name.” His chin drops back down, brow knitting, “He’s the roboticist. If you were seeing hunters and striders and other robotic insanity out there, odds are very strong that Mayes had him somewhere…”

“Hn. If you didn’t find him, then where the hell is he?”

Shoulders rock with a slight shrug, even though the question is possibly rhetorical. If Devon had answers, he’d give them. “The only one we actually saw with the robots, was only with the one large quadruped, and that was Valentin. The four Hunters we dealt with were running free, enemy soldiers all over the place.” No Hector Steel as far as he knows. “I’m sorry, Richard.”

“Shit. Okay, good to know,” Richard’s head bobs in a slight nod, “I like the man, he just— he’s always had bad influences.” And robotic killer llamas, but who’s counting? “If you end up tracking him down, try and take him alive? Braxton’s just— well, he’s a lot like my brother, honestly. Never thinks past his workbench.”

“Any other notable scores on the mission? Nobody got too badly hurt, I hope?”

“Our goal, ultimately, is to make these people see a fair trial.” Or as fair a trial as any of them can hope for. Dev can even admit to himself that, had he the chance, he might have taken a shot at Valentin without giving him the option to surrender first. “It’s not all guns blazing, no matter how the news spins it.”

He shakes his head, smirking slightly. “I think my unit took the worst hits. Francois got rattled pretty good, Rue’s shoulder is a mess. And me… Any chance for improvements on that armor to stand up better to higher caliber weapons?” It’s asked with a grin, it’s not the first set of armor he’s burned out.

“I’ll relay that to R&D,” Richard replies in dry tones, “I don’t have the bottomless budget to product Horizon scale suits— I think each of those cost as much as Wolfhound’s yearly budget these days. Just how Kershner kept pulling the money for that… well, I know how. Still, we don’t have that kind of money on hand.”

“I’m glad there wasn’t anything too serious, though. There— “ He pauses, “There weren’t any signs of that triangular system that was present at Geopoint, was there?”

“I know, I know. I’m glad for any level of protection,” Devon says as he holds up a hand like a white flag. “Even if it isn’t powered, maybe there’s some kind of kevlar composite that is effective against ballistics. Like a backup.” He’s thinking out loud, the science of the armor briefly intriguing.

The next question draws him back, and after a moment Dev shakes his head. “No. Nothing like that where we were. I don’t remember anything mentioned in the reports either.” That doesn’t mean that didn’t miss them, either. “I’ll check again when I get back to Rochester.”

“Good. Good…” Richard rubs a hand over his face, “I was worried that— well.” He laughs, leaning back, “At least it’s not likely that they’re working together, then.” Whatever that means.

“Still, good work. We’ve been having that old bitch haunting us for too many years now. I’ll look forward to watching the trial.”

“One less to worry about,” Devon agrees. He even raises his empty glass to it. One less may not seem that significant, but when it’s become a career to put an end to those who’ve terrorized the evolved for decades, one less is something to celebrate.

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