We Say Bonjour


devon2_icon.gif francois_icon.gif rue_icon.gif

Scene Title We Say Bonjour
Synopsis Concern meets reality.
Date March 26, 2019

Elmhurst Hospital

They're extending the visiting hours for war heroes.

Strange, nocturnal, quixotic creatures that they are, with long drives and personal problems to contend with. It's not just Devon Clendaniel back from the dead, either, but the one return that Francois has heard about that compelled him to step directly into his car and drive five hours in a beeline, clearance breezing through Safe Zone checkpoints, stopping only at red lights — very obliging — and the Elmhurst Hospital parking lot. He has to see this for his fucking self.

It is late when Francois gets in. It might be more polite, for Devon's sake, to wait until morning, install himself in a shitty motel. But Rue is anticipating his arrival, and so, the beeline continues, just now on foot.

Devon is asleep, so it's Rue that hears the approach — footfalls, cutting sharp and authoritative through the normal late night hospital murmur, drifting conversations, wheeled gurneys, beeping machines, yellow light glowing through the horizontal blinds that struggle out the worst of it, making the room dim but not dark. Francois is self-aware enough to very quietly put his hand on the door handle and push it open, peering in.

"Hallo," he says. Also quietly. He seems stressed. He steps into the room and makes quick business of closing the door, shutting out the ambiance beyond.

Rue pushes herself to her feet at the sound of the handle turning. She hasn’t slept and is dressed more for a party than for a hospital visit. She had “dinner” at Cat’s Cradle and didn’t feel like changing. So there she is in her short champagne-colored dress with a black pullover sweater thrown on over the top to ward off the chill hospitals seem to have. Also to cover up the plunging neckline and the open back. A clutch purse is set aside on the window sill.

“Good to see you, Lafayette.” She smiles, but the trouble and concern are etched into the lines of her expression. She glances toward the sleeping form of their teammate as if to say I fuckin’ know, right? Definitely with the profanity. “Glad you could make it. Should I fetch some coffee?”

"Non, non," Francois says, moving further into the room. He has not been to a party today, in slightly-too-warm coat and scarf, the latter of which he is unwinding. No parties, just— misc slightly radio silence for the past couple of days, Wolfhound scattered to the four winds in the wake of contracts completed, and other personal life upheavals from which he is happy to be distracted.

He doesn't comment on Rue's attire, anyway. Just turns a look to Devon, who has the audacity to just be lying there, alive after all.

"Has he been awake?" he asks, keeping his voice down — operating on very little intel indeed, and not loving that either. He doesn't crowd up close to the bed, standing further towards the door, still. Something he is figuring out about himself this year is that miraculous appearance is as much subject to mistrust as it is— anything else.

“Yes.” Rue moves away from Devon’s bedside to stand nearer to Francois. “We talked a bit yesterday. I’ve been in and out today. He seems to be doing well.” She shrugs. Considering is left unspoken. They mourned and metaphorically buried him, so this is nothing short of a miracle.

Or a nightmare. Rue hasn’t quite decided which it is yet, but she’s remaining optimistic as possible.

Molded plastic and metal quietly squeaks and rattles with shifting weight. A foot thumps once, lightly, against the mattress, then again less than a second later. Muffled, half awake, anxious frustration at a blanket that's tangled strangely. Likely it was only noticed because Devon had turned toward the voices and found himself trapped.

“What's happening?” His voice has the qualities of someone woken suddenly, expecting something is amiss. Dev squints against the dim light at Rue and Francois’ shadowed forms.

Rue has Francois' attention, until focus pulls. Looking back to her, Francois brings up a hand to squeeze her arm in some gesture of unnamed gratitude, before he moves closer towards the bed.

Offers a smile, once there. It's a little stiff, unable to completely veil things like concern and trepidation. "Hallo Devon," he says, and then looks around, ducks aside to take and drag a chair over nearby so he isn't looming by accident. "Your guess is as good as mine, you know. How are you feeling?"

Rue nods her head with a brief flash of a smile when her arm is squeezed, then steps out of the way for Francois to make his approach. She lingers at the foot of the bed, letting him occupy the space she previously held at Devon’s side.

His head picks up from the pillow and he's halfway to sitting when his teammates are close enough to be seen easily. Devon sinks, all too ready to lay down again. Nothing unusual then. He rubs a hand over his face before looking at the pair again.

“Hey,” his returned greeting is a quiet one. “Feeling alright.” He looks to be in fairly good health, too. Aside from the tiredness. Dev allows his eyes to close. “How're you two feeling?”

It's great that Devon has his eyes shut because Francois can't stop himself from being a weirdo with the intensity of his own avid focus. As if maybe he alone will sight some kind of, you know, mysterious scar that is more than just a few months old that'd indicate that this Devon is their Devon's evil twin from another futuuure. It wouldn't be the most insane thing to happen this decade.

He also has every compulsion to shake Devon more awake, too, but suppresses that one. Devon should probably feel happier to see them instead of just sleepy. It's been weeks. Months, now.

No. It's been months for them.

Something else has been months for Devon, certainly not thinking they are dead. Francois says, "Good," because he was asked a question. Rue gets the peculiar experience of hearing Francois' gently warm tone come from his more severe countenance, his careful study. "You've missed much of our downtime. Before you know it, there will be another contract."

“I’m fine,” Rue assures in a gentle voice. She exchanges a look with Francois, no attempt made to mask her concern. Yes, this situation is deeply weird. But she’s not at Devon’s bedside with a gun in her hand or anything, so perhaps it’s not quite so dire as they might worry.

“We’ll have you jumping out of planes again before you know it,” she agrees with Francois. “No rest for the wicked, you know?”

“Jumping out of planes sounds a lot better than sitting around in here,” Devon admits with a grin. “Hell, even eating my own cooking would be better than what they’ve served here.” That’s got to be saying something, given that his cooking often involves something burning or being over seasoned or worse.

Unfortunately, “I’m off the active roster until …I don’t know.” Forever maybe? His eyes open and he focuses on some point between his teammates. The amusement he’d had for the stab at his own lack of culinary skills slips.

“I don’t have any answers for what happened. Two days ago… we were in California, then I’m waking up on the beach.” It’s weird for him also, and frustrating that he doesn’t have the answers anyone wants. Devon shakes his head in apology. “But hopefully… hopefully I’ll find something, some leads. Get myself back to work.”

Francois is unsurprised, as to active duty. Unsurprised, as to its uncertain nature. He doesn't say anything to that, no reassurances, no promises — this isn't the time, regardless.

Nor is it the time for interrogation. "You don't have to look for leads alone," he says, a hand coming to rest on the silver railing of the bed. It's a solemn offer, somehow sturdy at the foundations in spite of the fact that they have nothing to show for it themselves — but then, Devon's demise had been awful certainty. Francois is already thinking back, trying to understand what the fuck they missed. (As much as there is frustration for the things Devon cannot tell them, he is equally glad that it is nothing the boy can remember.) But for now—

"For now," he says, "the only questions I have are of the present. If there is anything you need, anyone we can contact who hasn't yet been, what we can tell you, of the time you have missed. What you wish to do next, when you are rested. But only for when you are rested. Are you hurt?"

Later, he’ll likely be grateful that the interrogations were put off. He’d done more answering for what he had no answers for than anyone has a right to. Devon musters half a grin and focuses his attention on Francois and Rue. The latter had already brought him food once, far better than the edible styrofoam the orderlies continue to bring in, and for that he’s eternally thankful.

It goes without saying that more real food would likewise be welcomed.

“Everyone who’d want to know knows,” is how Dev starts his answer. Emily was at the beach, and has poked her head in once or twice since her first visit. Liz and Richard, also, are lurking around he’s fairly sure — he recalls seeing them at various times also. “When I’m rested… I’m going to start looking for answers. Richard and Liz’ve got it in their heads I’m staying at Jared’s until…” Whenever is the best answer for that one.

“Richard’s sister’s a telepath, so… I’m thinking about talking to her first.” It’s a strange thing indeed to be considering seeking the help of a telepath, especially since he’s very reluctant to knowingly allow any ability use on himself. Devon pauses to rub fingers against his forehead. “How long have I missed. Really. Avi’d said months…”

So much for the bliss of not remembering. Necessary evil, anyway. Francois nods a little, a glance dealt to Rue around this talk of a telepath digging around in a Wolfhound member's head and all the strictly classified information that can be witnessed there, but he opts not to argue it. That he knows of Kaylee Ray-Sumter and the shared history of former Ferrymen, and the people entwined with them, does much to still any protest.

"January 10th," Francois says. "It is March 26th. 2019," because he lives a life where that clarification is necessary. "A little over two months gone, yes." He clears his throat a little, now letting his gaze rest on his own knuckles, relaxed on the railing, and continues, "When we did not find your— when we did not find you, we thought there was nothing left to find, given the nature of fire. If any number of things had gone differently, perhaps we might have suspected. I'm sorry we did not."

Back to Devon, head tipping. Sincerity reflected back at him.

That puts a point on a feeling Rue had but couldn't name. There's guilt for not finding him. For not having tried to go back in when she'd heard he hadn't come out with the others. Even though she knows the fire was out of control. There was nothing she could have done, almost certainly. Still…


"If that's what you think is best," Rue offers to Devon without judgement. It's his life and his choice to try and recover what was apparently lost. She can't say she wouldn't want to do the same in his position, and Kaylee is someone she would trust to do it.

Wants and needs differ greatly, and Devon only tips his head slightly at Rue’s response to his thoughts. His avoidance of telepaths specifically has never been a secret, given the things he desires to keep well hidden from everyone, even himself — just with his own secrets and memories that he dodges and dances around whenever asked.

His eyes lift up to Francois, first thoughtful. Then concern seeps in, puts some creases in his brow. Nearly three months gone. It had been mentioned before, but, “I can’t tell. It’s only been a couple of days since we deployed.”

It takes a beat before Devon is shaking his head again. Never mind the confusion, the ever-present gap in his understanding of time. “You guys tried,” he points out. He grasps Francois’ forearm, and Rue might find herself held the same way if she were closer. A look at her will have to do for now. “That means something. And I’m here now… So we just need to pick up the pieces.”

There is certainly a difference, between lost memory and time completely erased from comprehension. Francois does not hide his concern, a divot formed between his eyebrows. There it is, that urge to press Devon for more information, more specificities around that lost time, but he prevents himself from doing so — easier done when his attention diverts, hand on arm. His hand goes on top of that hand too in a reassuring clap down.

"Be careful with that brain," he says. "Tell Kaylee to be so. And that we say bonjour."

He removes his hand and arm from Devon's reach, reaching into a coat pocket. A small, leather-bound notebook, well used, and a pen almost no longer than a toothpick that slides into its spine — he uses these things to scratch something into a page, which he tears loose. "Civilian number," he says. "I'll be in the city for a few days, so it should work, even." He does not specify why, because it is equal parts because of Devon himself, and equal parts a tangle of personal problems that had evaporated from his brain for the extent of this visit.

And none of which matter in this moment. He puts the piece of paper near Devon's bed. "If you need anything," he adds, in case that wasn't clear. "I'll visit when you are not attempting to sleep."

Rue moves to Devon’s other side and rests a hand on his shoulder, squeezing very gently. A display of solidarity, friendship, and support. Improbably, he has become like a brother to her, and it is her instinct to protect him in whatever way she can. That she can’t protect him from whatever’s already happened to him feels a failing on her part. The best she can do now is be present for what comes next, whatever that may be.

“It might not be a bad idea,” she suggests, “to pursue some time at the Benchmark. They… I don’t know. Sometimes they seem to know just what to say.” Rumor sure doesn’t.

“You can stay.” Devon may not be much company at present, with long periods of sleep broken by an effort to play down the reasons that landed him in the hospital. It’s confusing, his fractured concept of time and his disappearance. None of it has caught up to him yet. But finding the Hounds nearby during his interludes of wakefulness has been comforting.

“If you want.” He half sits up, stopped by the weight of Rue’s hand on his shoulder, but he watches the page be placed on the nearby table. He nods and murmurs, “Yeah,” if he needs anything, he will call.

Sinking back again, Dev reaches up to briefly cover Rue’s hand with his own. “Maybe.” Maybe he’ll make that journey, maybe they’ll know what to say. “You’re staying though.” It’s partly a question, since Francois has said he’s leaving, directed at Rue with a raised-brow look.

"In that case," Francois says, a little dry, and looking to Rue, "do you need anything?"

She looks like she could use things too. Most of them have some form of grab bag somewhere in the city, but he's pretty sure even if she doesn't, he has enough skill and finesse to secure her a change of clothing.

"Nnn—" Rue begins to voice the negative, but catches herself. It sounds like Francois could use the walk about. "Actually, I've got a bag at my motel room. I could get you the key and send you out for it, if you wouldn't mind. Unless you want to take first watch." Not that Devon needs watching.

Light brows lift, questioning look fixed on the Frenchman. The ball is in his court here. She's left him the out if he wants it. "I can walk you down the hall, show you where everything's at, too."

From Rue to Francois, Devon's eyes track after the questions between them. Of course he doesn't need to have company, in the middle of the night there's nothing around and the hospital seems safe and secure. In a few days time he's likely to jokingly whine and complain about having his friends and family checking in on him. Tonight seems to be an hour that he's not bothering to hide such fallacies as much.

Still, he doesn't press for either to stay more than the once. Knowing that they will return is enough to hold onto.

After a moment, Dev shrugs himself into a more comfortable position. His eyes wander from his teammates to explore the dimmer parts of the room. He blinks slowly fending off sleep for a few seconds more.

"I know my way around," Francois demurs. It's a little tempting to pull Rue aside, but he expects they'll have time enough for that when Devon does finally lapse into a deep enough sleep. And also: it's true. He's had plenty of visits to Elmhurst since it opened, and has worked within similar environments besides, with the faded echoes of false memories mapping each station, door, and overbright hallway as if he expects his shift to begin.

They're not his favourite places to be, for both the usual and slightly stranger reasons, but— "I'll be back soon." With Rue's change of clothes, the vague smell of a recent cigarette carried with him for the journey, and a small armful of vending machine snacks and liquids that are the best he can do while curfew is in effect and everywhere he knows nearby is closed.

And then, to pace the over bright hallways, to speak quietly to doctors with more questions than they want to deal with, to make faces at bad instant coffee, to do all of those things in the company of other Wolfhound operatives and those that call Devon friend and family. The things you do when there is nothing, really, to be done, but doing anything else feels incorrect, faithless.

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