The Same Coin


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Also Featuring:

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Scene Title The Same Coin
Synopsis Two heads, one heart.
Date July 19, 2019

Devon’s hand falls away. The grin he musters doesn't do much to mask the needle of worry that's prickling. His brows knit slightly but, for once, he doesn't press on it. He looks into Emily's eyes, searching for… something solid. Whether affirmation that she's truly well or an explanation for her sudden aversion to fun, he isn't certain.

“I'm okay.” His answer is given after a moment. His hand half raises again, but instead of reaching out he uses it to rub the back of his neck.

"Liar," Emily states plainly, nudging his side. She smiles when that's done, teasing, "You want to go back and play in the water, don't you." A bit of honesty here, a bit of distraction there…

She drops her flip flops and noses her toes into them, taking Devon by the hand. "Come on," she says, already heading down the steps. Even if they didn't end up wetting their feet, maybe a walk would do them some good. At the very least, do them better than standing around awkwardly on the porch.

Her hand stays firmly in his, holding on with purpose. Letting go would be like releasing hold of a life-preserver while in a tempestuous sea, but she has trouble looking his way for any significant period of time.

Dev’s mouth sets for casual dismissal of the idea. It was simply a suggestion, a brief break from the summer heat. But Emily's teasing segues into a decisiveness so smoothly and quickly that actually stops the quasi-argument before it begins.

He lets himself be led from the house, and for several seconds he still says nothing. Confusion tosses around the prickling worry prompting him to steal a look or three at Emily.

“You sure you're okay?” The question, that gentle prodding for clarification, finally comes before they're more than two houses away from their starting point. Devon slows his pace slightly and gives Em’s hand a squeeze to draw her attention to him. “Did something happen?”

Emily nods once, the action tense even through all her feigned lightness and nonchalance. "Plenty of things. Weeks ago. And I've been worried about them ever since, but I've been trying not to let it get to m—

Praxis Ziggurat

Praxia, California Safe Zone

Level B4, Sleep Study Lab

July 19th

1:19 pm


The second recitation of his name rouses Devon from his sleep. Bleary eyes open slowly, finding difficulty is discerning his current location in the familiar confines of the Praxis Ziggurat’s sleep study lab from the balmy summer street of his dream. He can still smell Emily’s hair when he sits up, eyes adjusting to the fluorescent lights overhead as if he had only just come indoors.

Standing in the doorway of the sleep study lab, one shoulder against the door frame, Adam Monroe cuts a casual silhouette. He has something in his hand, a white paper bag, and Devon can smell the aroma of fries and a burger emanating from it after a moment of adjusting to his surroundings. As he twists his body, Devon can feel the adhesive pads of EEG electrodes taped to his forehead as the wires go taut. Adam dips his head into a nod and insinuates himself into the room.

“I thought it was high time you and I have a little talk,” Adam says, proffering up the bag and revealing the White Castle burger logo. “They has their grand opening today, I've been told it's good.” He sets the bag down on the tray beside Devon’s bed, as if that were some conciliatory gift for all of this.

The electrodes are lightly touched with investigative fingers, pushed against the way someone would push a hood back from their eyes. But Devon doesn't go far enough to try removing them. They drop away from the wires when Adam enters the room. For a beat he stares at the older man.

Then the smell of greasy food overwhelms the lingering scent of scent of Emily's shampoo.

Disorientation flips. He draws a sharp breath. Reality slams into place without mercy. Unwanted familiarity for the room fosters dread. His eyes close tightly until the tightness in his chest eases.

“How nice of you to fit me into your schedule.” Devon tries to sound casual with his reply. Anger stirs within him. His hands drop to rest on his knees. A look slants to the sack, eyes picking out the oily spots that stare back mockingly, then returns to the man who'd brought it. “What do you want?”

“You'd think by now I'd have all the time in the world,” Adam says with a rueful laugh. “It's never that easy,” comes quieter as he pushes the bag a little closer to Devon with his fingertips.

“Eat, you can listen while you do.” Pulling up a chair from the wall, Adam noisily drags its metal feet across the tile floor until he sets it down beside the hospital bed and drops himself into it. “I would have come sooner, but honestly I wasn't sure if you were going to dissolve into a heap of protein and plasma, and that— would have been a waste of my time. But you seem stable,” he tics a look up from his lap, “physically. So… here we are.”

Adam draws in a deep breath and slaps his hands onto his thighs. “So,” he says softly, “any… big, lingering questions before I just, you know, natter on?”

“You're telling me,” Devon answers dryly. Commiserating. He, himself, appears to have so much time on his hands as well. But he's being acutely sarcastic. “Just when I think I've got a minute to myself, some other neophyte comes and interrupts.”

He sighs, dramatically put upon. Not that he's wrong, but given an opportunity to voice his opposition to his being held and experimented on, damn right he's going to say something.

A look slides to the bag as it's pushed nearer. He doesn't reach for it just yet. His mind reaches, instead, to the traces of the dream. It prompts a humorless laugh, a chuff of sound that's darker than his sarcasm. This version of him is dead anyway, replaced entirely.

“Nope.” The answer is vaguely energetic. Almost cheerful sounding with hints of apathy. Devon takes the bag and digs into it without looking. His attention is set on Adam, keenly observant. “What are we going to learn about today, Mister Peabody?”

“Cute.” Adam says with a flick of his brows up at the Peabody’s Improbable History reference. “That must’ve been your father’s doing,” is the most loaded thing Adam has said since he and Devon first met. “You may one day regret the missed opportunity of asking me something, but I suppose we’ll look back at that bridge after we’ve crossed it.”

Having given Devon more than enough time for a head start, Adam leans over and uncurls the top of the White Castle bag and snatches a pair of salted fries out, helping himself to them before he continues. “Mmn, okay. Bao-Wei was right,” he says in a low tone mostly to himself about the food. “Nn— anyway. Yes. This.” He looks up to Devon, wiping grease off onto the knees of his pants.

“I knew your father, Matt.” Adam says as though conversing about the weather. “It’s how I’ve known about you, how I’ve known about a lot of things about you. I figured it’s high time I come clean to you about why you’re here, what you might’ve been experiencing, and… the whole situation. What the future holds for you. You know.” Adam eyes the bag again, hungrily. “The works.”

It's true he may come to regret not taking the opportunity later, but Devon shrugs. Perhaps the opportunity will present itself later. Or not. Only time will tell, and right now it appears as though he's got a lot of it.

He fishes a burger from the bag while Adam speaks. May as well claim something. Who knows when the chance will come up again.

“A lot of people knew my dad,” Devon points out easily. As if to say what makes you so special. Childish. He peels back a corner of the wrapper to inspect the sandwich inside. “Either you knew him from a business standpoint or from his band. But I don't remember ever meeting you before…” Likely he's trying to think back to childhood, to gatherings with family friends or the occasional business partners.

“Neither,” Adam says, then grimaces and finishes chewing and sighs as he admits, “okay I did know him from the band but that isn't what this is about.” Leaning forward, Adam rests his forearms across his knees and slouches down, looking at the floor. He shakes his head, then scrubs a hand over his mouth and looks back up to Devon.

“It was July 13th, 1982. Your father was living in San Francisco at the time, I was there… on work. Unrelated. One in a million chances that we'd ever meet. Maybe one in a billion.” Adam looks down to the floor and laces his hands together. “I'd finished my job for the Company, a recruitment, nice and clean. So I decided to celebrate, hit up this club— the EndUp— super trendy, good drinks, good music. I drank the bar dry that night and stumbled out into the alley for a piss,” he grimaces, spreading his hands in an it was the 80s gesture.

Recovering, Adam continues. “Someone decided they didn't like me. Probably someone I'd told off inside, knowing me. I don't remember them, but I remember that they stabbed me in the side twice and then punched me right here,” he says, tapping a finger at his right temple. “Now, I wager you've been told all about me. How normally that wouldn't be an issue. Any other day I'd have fed that boy a side of the curb, but…”

Shaking his head, Adam stands up and starts to pace. “It was a problem. Because I was rather quickly dying. What from all the blood loss.” He doesn't explain why or how. “Your father, patron saint of fools that he is, was walking by the alley when my would-be murderer was running out. Hardly anyone else was around, but your father… he pulled me out of that alley and got me to a bloody hospital. Saved my life, he did.”

Adam circles back, walking the length of the room. “We wiped his memory when all was said and done, put it in a little penny,” he explains making a tiny pinch mark with his fingers. “But I didn't forget. So some years later, in 83 I find out your old man was in a hit and run in Chicago. I'd kept track of him, and I repay my debts. Things weren't great back then, 83 was a bad year for me… but I found the hospital your father was in, and repaid the debt. Blood for blood, and fixed him up right as rain.”

Moving back to his chair, Adam sits down again. “Your father was grateful for the help, even let me crash on his couch for a few days. Company tracked us down though, what with the miraculous healing and all. I was gone, but I know they cleared his mind again.” He sounds frustrated at that. “But those couple of days, I promised I'd try to keep an eye on him. I still owed him.”

“So,” Adam spreads his hands at Devon, “when I put two and two together and found you the way you were… in Sunstone.” He exhales a slow sigh. “That's how we’re here. A debt. But I don't expect you to be grateful… given the circumstances.”

“He never once said anything about saving some guy in the street.” Devon isn't exactly calling Adam’s story a tall tale. “Or that he was in an accident.” But his expression holds some traces of… wishing he could disbelieve. Somehow.

Being alive now makes it near impossible for him to prove any fallacy in Adam’s claim.

Looking away, the bun is peeled back so that Devon can pick off any of the gross vegetables. Rabbit food simply does not belong on a burger. “Don't get me wrong. I'm grateful that… you honored a debt to my father and brought me back to life.” An unspoken but hands in the air as the burger is pressed together again and he lifts his eyes to Adam’s.

“But as you've said, we're here now because of a debt. One I'm assuming you expect me to pay?”

Adam sighs away a response, slouching back into his chair and looking down at his folded hands. “There’s a lot of reasons why your old man wouldn’t have told you. Makes me happy t’know he kept my secrets all these years. Kept.” He has to correct himself there. He isn’t happy about it.

“Look,” Adam quickly moves away to the more present topic, “Devon. I’m not here to extract any sort of favor from you. As far as I’m concerned the transactional nature of our acquaintance ends here, it’s just… there’s complications in everything. Bringing back the dead isn’t an easy task and — I don’t know if I need to convince you anymore, but you were dead.” Not wanting to belabor the point, Adam stands up from his chair and runs his hands through his hair.

“You’re not here because I think you owe me anything,” Adam says with a wave of one hand at the door. “You’re here because there’s nowhere else for you to go.”

Nowhere else to go.

For half a beat Devon fosters an argument to that fact. There are plenty of places he could go, and the only thing stopping him is the continued experiments he's being put through. The perception of that shifts slightly, the longer it's thought on, and the conclusion he finds produces a croak of a laugh.

Of course he can't go home again. Obviously, what with his doppelgänger out there. He can't exactly go anywhere. Even if he isn't a war hero from the civil war, or one of the high profile faces from the Albany Trials, he'd still be recognized. And that could cause issues. There's literally nowhere else to go.

And so he laughs with the empty humor of a man facing his defeat.

“So I'm here. Nowhere to go, nothing left.” Devon motions around the room with the burger, having forgotten it's in his hand. His voice cracks faintly as he continues. “And you just let your… doctors check up on me? Asking about dreams, telling me it's fair that I get to see my… my life being lived by another me? Like it's some kind of gift they've left me with?”

“We didn't think you'd both survive,” is Adam’s cold comfort and poor bedside manner showing through. “We've never done anything like this before, I've never brought someone back so far gone. Joy,” he nearly stops himself, then sighs and slouches further. “Joy had to piece your mind together. You're not a clone, you're… identical twins. We literally split the difference of what was left from the explosion and tried two parallel revivals with my blood.”

Adam rubs a hand across his forehead. “Usually things like this aren't stable, we had past experiences that— things started by the Institute— that all ended poorly. My scientists are doing unrelated tests, since we have you. We needed a sample of someone with your precise genotype. Someone who was a descendant of a blood transfusion from me, to test an… to test something extremely important.”

“It may come as a surprise to you, but just because I have a personal debt to bring someone back from the brink, doesn't mean I can steer this entire corporation to do that on my whim. It has to have a veneer of corporate purpose. I'm not… perceptions of me may be skewed by my past actions.” Adam doesn't even like the way that sounds when it comes out of his mouth, but he doesn't correct himself either. “When you both survived, we… well, we were going to let you go, but you escaped all on your own. So,” Adam laughs, ruefully. “We didn't pursue.”

That laugh dies in the back of Adam’s throat. He finds little humor left in this situation. “Your link… was also a part of the tests the lab needed to do, a side effect. In time, we can find a way to block it. Give you some autonomy. In time… we could find somewhere else for you to go. Live. I don't know… I've never had to solve a situation like this before. But,” Adam shakes his head, “I wanted to be as honest with you as is safe.”

“As honest as is safe,” Devon echoes back dryly. “At least there's honesty in you didn't think.” He looks at the burger in his hands, considering it for a long moment before finally taking a bite. Why not? He's hungry and it's far better than the gruel he's usually given. The first mouthful is chewed thoughtfully before he makes a satisfied noise and nods. It is pretty good.

“So,” he goes on after swallowing the bite, “you let my twin escape, but held onto me, kept me complacent with lies about the life I’d had.” It's not the most kind summarization he could come up with, sarcasm is used like a knife. “Let your monkeys play mad scientist for their own gain as much as yours.”

Devon takes another bite from the burger while he mulls over the rest of what Adam has told him. He's alive, survived not only whatever experiment had left others unstable enough to turn to jelly but also the explosion that had, technically, killed him. He feels justified in being angry, not that it will get him anywhere. Not while he needs information and allies. It's a bit of a stretch to even think that the man who'd saved his dad, believed the debt remained decades later and paid into it again by saving him, would offer either information or an alliance.

There are worse things to aim for.

“What's so important about a descendent?” Dev turns the bag over to Adam, an offering of the fries that still fill the bag. “And what else do you need from me?”

“I'm trying to…” Adam nearly explains, then closes his eyes and rubs a hand at the side of his head. “I can't explain it to you, because… not because I think you would do anything, but because words are weapons, and there are things in this world that make you and I look like insignificant fleas.” He smiles, bitterly at that.

“But I don't need anything else from you,” Adam explains quietly, regretfully. “We have all the samples we need, and the rest of the work our medical staff can handle. That's why you've been moved here to monitor your link with your duplicate. In a few weeks you'll be moved to a secure residential wing of the ziggurat, and permitted some freedom of movement. Beyond that, I haven't figured it out yet.”

Adam seems, for a moment, as though he was willing to end the conversation there. Except, he doesn't. He lingers in that moment with a half-formed word on his lips. “Devon,” Adam says without precisely knowing how to ask what he wants to ask. “If God is omniscient— sees all, hears all— how would you hide something from him?”

Words are weapons, and, from where Devon is sitting, there's a loaded gun pointed at him urging him toward the hangman's noose. The lack of information, the aborted answers, the lack of command over his own life; he can almost imagine the feeling of twisted fibers of hemp slowly tightening around his neck.

He swallows down a new bite of burger, having torn off a chunk while listening to Adam dodge around his question again. How can he convince the immortal to share his dilemma?

It's a thought left to ponder. As it appears like their chat is at an end, Dev digs into the bag to grab a few fries. How long has it been since he's had actually good fast food? It's a distraction that causes him to miss the lingering, but then Adam speaks up again.

“Hide something from God?” And why are you asking? The question actually makes him pause, to give some serious thought to it. Is there even an answer.

“I mean… omniscience is… I don't know,” is his initial answer, distracted with the puzzle he's been presented with. Devon mulls over the question a moment longer then looks up to Adam. “Catholic dogma’s probably got some kind of veil. A loophole or something.” He hesitates, wrestling with his own musings. Eventually it forms into a single word.


Adam shrugs, as if the question were somehow less serious now than it was a moment ago. He straightens as he stands, hands at the small of his back as he stretches, then looks over to Devon. His expression is solemn and quiet, gaze unfocused and his mind feels like it might be a thousand miles away. “How else would you go about killing them?” He says with a feigned smile, like it was all just a joke.

“Finish those fries, they weren’t cheap,” is Adam’s choice for a farewell as he heads toward the door. “Once you’ve finished today’s rounds of sleep analysis, we’ll get you set up with a suite upstairs and a little more freedom of movement.” It seems like Adam might make his way out entirely, but he pauses in the doorway, hesitating from shutting the door behind himself.

“Oh and,” Adam looks back over his shoulder, “take your time, adjusting.”

Because nothing is really the same anymore.

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