What Remains The Same


devon2_icon.gif elisabeth_icon.gif

Scene Title What Remains the Same
Synopsis Liz gets a chance to talk to Devon, and sees that some things may have changed while others probably never will.
Date March 28, 2019


Housing - Jared Harrison's apartment

She moves quietly around her father's kitchen so as not to wake him. The young man napping on the couch is … not the same boy that she left so many years ago. Her last memories of him make Elisabeth's heart ache, raw and powerful in her mind today.

"I always thought saying I'm still in would be easy," Devon finally says, brows drawing together. He's still frowning, thoughtfully, when he looks at the audiokinetic again. "But now…" He shakes his head apologetically. "I don't want to run away, this is my fight as much as it's anyone else's." The teenager pauses, teeth pulling at his lower lip.

"Can you get all the evidence together," Dev resumes, slowly, a lot of thought weighing in his words. "All the surveillance and …everything that can prove the truth of all this? I'm… I'm going to need proof. No one's going to take a kid at his word alone."

Her eyes on him have a softness to them that she doesn't give many other people. His apologetic tone bring her hand out to touch his arm. "Yes," she says simply. "Yes, I can. If that's what you want, I will give every bit of it to you."

God, it hurts, she realizes. Knowing that she's sending him away, alone, hurts her heart in ways she never expected. Tears well up in her eyes and she ruthlessly tries to keep them at bay. "I can't say that I'm sorry you're choosing this," she tells him softly. "I'm only sorry that I can't make things better for you sooner."

The touch on his arm brings a tightening to his jaw, and he holds his breath for a beat to steel himself within his decision. It wasn't easily come to, but these days nothing is ever easy. The weight of it shows as much as if he'd continued his claims to going where the fight is. "It isn't what I want," he admits after a moment. "It is, but… But it's also what needs to be done." That much he can see; that much he's coming to see, after so many days and months.

With a heavy sigh, Devon takes a seat on the floor beside Liz's feet. His arms drape over his knees while he surveys the basement in front of them. "Just… try not to die, okay?" The question comes with the weight of fear, though he tries to mask it. "We have to regroup after… whatever goes down, whatever you're taking out, putting an end to. We have to regroup." Because then, he won't have lost the last vestiges of family to the overreach and iron grip of the government.

Liz settles to the floor next to him. She wraps her arms around him, leans sideways, and kisses his temple. "I will come for you." The ghosts of the past echo in those words for her… but they are a vow she won't break.

She never thought it would take her seven years to fulfill that promise.

The couch creaks softly and whispers with movement, and the deeper breaths of sleep shift into the steadier rhythm of wakefulness.

As his eyes come open, Devon stares up at the ceiling while listening to the quiet sounds of work in the kitchen. Confusion briefly touches his expression, deepens a crease between his brows. After a moment, he gives in to wondering and pushes himself up enough to look over the back of the couch. It takes no time at all to find Liz in the kitchen instead of Jared.

With a sigh, he sinks back down and closes his eyes. Sleep, however, is fickle and has already abandoned him.

With his eyes opened again, Dev sits up. His elbows rest on his knees and his hands scrub at his face. “When did you get here,” he asks into his palms, before those hands turn and rake fingers through his hair.

She has her Mom Ear out — the subtle monitoring of breathing and, in his case, heartbeat sounds just because she is worried and uncertain. Their moments together have been brief and somewhat lacking in deeper conversation since he washed up.

As she hears him wake, she pours cups of tea just for something to do. When he finally speaks up, Elisabeth brings the cups around to the living room and sets them on the coffee table. Blue eyes skim his face and she reaches out absently to push a lock of blonde off his forehead. "This time?" she asks mildly. "About 15 minutes ago." If he wants to talk about the bigger issues, he'll have to broach them himself — she's giving him whatever space he may need. So far he's been recovering and she hasn't wanted to overwhelm him.

Fifteen minutes ago. Devon leans back as he lets that measurement of time weigh in his head. Time is a strange concept, made more confusing when there’s parts of it missing. However, he doesn’t dwell on it for very long, once his eyes find the cups of tea he leans forward to help himself to one of them.

“What about before?” He poses the question against the rim of the cup, and chases it with a sip of the hot liquid. “Richard said he was working on a way to bring you back.” Lowering the mug, he tilts his head to look at Liz.

She lowers herself to sit on the couch near him but not so close as to crowd him. Elisabeth seems unwilling to put any pressure on him in terms of his reactions. "We found a way through, with Richard and SESA's help, in early January. Spent time in quarantine while they poked and prodded, debriefed us all, made us sign all the requisite NDAs and shit," she tells him slowly. "People who traveled with us needed identities backstopped and all."

Elisabeth pauses and says softly, "I'm…. so sorry, Devon. That it took so long." She's not sure what else to say.

As the explanation begins, Dev turns to look into the cup in his hands. He raises it again and takes another sip, but his actions are more out of habit than distraction from Elisabeth’s words. He’s listening, paying close attention in his own way. When she pauses, he looks up from his tea and studies her carefully.

“I’m just glad you made it home,” he states after a beat. “I never… really accepted you were gone. Even after what everyone else said.” He held onto a thread of hope, as foolish as it might have seemed at the time.

There's a rush of tears when he says that, a surge of emotion that she can't hide well. Averting her gaze from him, as if she doesn't want to make him uncomfortable, Elisabeth swallows hard against the lump in her throat.

She starts to say something and then closes her mouth again. When she looks back, her uncertainty is pushed down deep and she offers him a truth in return. "There was never a time that I forgot my promise. I wouldn't blame you if you were mad."

His brows knit as he watches the shift in emotions, and he hesitates briefly before placing a hand on her shoulder. “I’m not,” Devon says matter of factly. He’s had seven years to come into some form of acceptance that Elisabeth was gone. He’d never admitted that she was dead, even to himself, but gone, he could reconcile with that.

“It doesn’t matter anyway.” He returns his cup to the table, and leans back against the couch. “You’re back now. That’s what’s important.”

The subtle tremor of her form is tangible to the hand that rests in her shoulder. Elisabeth waits until he sets his cup down, and then she finally — no longer tentative this time — reaches out and wraps her arms around him in a hug that will be only as long as he allows.

"What's important to me is that you know I didn't abandon you, Devon," she whispers. Given that Jaiden is also 'gone,' she can't help but feel the need to make sure he knows that. He's not a child anymore, and feeling her way through whatever relationship he may want with her is a priority. But she knows some things might not be fixable.

“I know you didn’t.”

Devon’s arms wrap around Liz when she leans in to hug him, giving weight to his words. “I always hoped they were wrong, that you weren’t…” He had no way to prove anyone wrong, and at the time his own beliefs were adolescent and chalked up to grief. He’d learned to stop asking and in most ways moved on with growing up.

His arms tighten slightly and he draws a breath against a tightness in his chest. A part of that boy he was seven years ago still exists. “I missed you. There’s so much you missed here.” He sits back slightly, brows knitting as he finds himself unsure of how to continue. Surely she’s been caught up by now.

She tightens her arms around him when he hugs back, the pressure in her chest easing just a little. Relief pours through her at the assurance, and she cradles the back of his neck in her hand as she presses a kiss to his hair. "I missed you too."

When he draws back, Liz scoots backward a little give him space though there's a sheen of tears in her blue eyes. A soft huff of laughter escapes. "I missed a hell of a lot," she agrees. "I'm… still working on catching up, although I think I'm finally pretty square on the broad strokes. It's the details that I'm missing." And the people who aren't here any longer. "I read what happened in Minnesota. And Richard and Dad filled me in some of your career and stuff… they're both pretty proud of you," she tells him. "I'm proud of you. More than you'll ever know, Dev."

“Wolfhound.” There’s a hint of pride in the word, though even as it’s said aloud Dev looks unsure about the future of his career there. “We’ve brought in a lot of big names, stifled a lot of others. Never went without my helmet.” He might skirt around the details of the battles he’s been in, but that’s one he’s quick to point out. “Amarok’s got a bit of a reputation for fluidity in the field, makes us look reckless but being able to change tactics to achieve the larger goal works for us.”

“I visit Richard and Pops whenever I can,” he continues after a thoughtful pause. “I was here just a few days ago, before that last mission.”

She can't help it, Elisabeth laughs out loud at the never went without my helmet comment. "Wow, kiddo," she teases. "Now I know you've spent a ridiculous amount of time around Richard. You even sound like him!" Because he was always on her about her helmet. His explanation is met with equanimity, though. "I knew that when you were ready to step back onto the field, you'd do it in a way that suited you. Wolfhound sounds like it's a good fit… lets you bring people to justice." It was what had always driven her too, so it's something she definitely understands.

"Dad is… I called him up at the cabin. He was beside himself that you're okay and you're home. They're at the market picking up things to feed you." She pauses and says quietly, "Uhm… you're gonna get to meet my mom. She's… one of the people who came home with me." And God, is that a long story. He's apparently missed a bit too!

“Started with supply runs and rescue missions.” Devon grins briefly, remembering his early days in the war. “Then I joined Major Gitelman’s company and stayed on with them. Not sure if that’s changed now, though.” A shrug lifts his shoulders, and he turns to pick up his cup.

“Your mom?” He has missed things, and he casts a curious look at Elisabeth. “Who else did you bring back with you?”
Tilting her head, Elisabeth asks curiously herself, "Why would that change now?" She wonders if he made some kind of mistake that he fears Hana will hold against him. And then she has to explain the other.

There's a long sigh as she thinks about it. "Uhm… well, the one that might cause you stress… is an alternate version of Remi," Elisabeth tells him in a low voice. Because she knows that he's spent those missing years back and forth between Richard and Jared's place… and Jaiden and Remi's. And she has the details, as much as there are any, on what happened to Remi here and to Jaiden and his girls.

"Uhm… I don't know right now who else in my traveler's group you might know," she admits. "But… you'll get to meet Aurora soon. She's at school right now."

He starts to answer, then shakes his head. Being found on the beach, without having answers for how he got there, was still unsettling. He’s not sure how to begin to look at it. Devon swirls the tea around in his cup, then sets it aside without drinking any more of it.

“Another version of Remi.” The change in topic, even if it’s just as puzzling as the other, is easier to accept. “Not sure how I should feel about that. I wasn’t really close to the one from here, even after she and Jai…” Another thing he decides to not finish. “And… Aurora. Pops and Richard said something about a kid?”

"Yeaaaahhhh," Elisabeth drawls out slowly. "Guess I maybe shouldn't have been on that last run. Didn't really think that was a thing." She and Richard had talked about it, but it wasn't exactly in the plans for just then. "She was born that June." Her voice as she talks about the little girl is softer with a hint of pride, no uncertainty. "She's… honestly, Dev? I think she's the only thing that kept me going the whole time. There were so many things that… " She looks down and away, a movement to keep him from seeing too deep. "It was a tough few years. Not all bad or anything, but… Even in a good world, when you're hiding all the time, it has a toll."

She looks back at him. "I'm … beyond sorry to hear about Jai, Devon. Coming home to find both of you gone was…" A kick in the gut. But then again, Devon had to live the other side of that, so elaborating on it isn't really needed. Still, it hurts. "I'm really glad that you had Jaiden and Dad and Richard, though. I hoped that my dad would…" She smiles a little. "I should have known that I wouldn't even need to ask."

If anyone can understand the alternate worlds, Devon can. He may not have traveled to them, but the dreams he’s had are real enough. And their world has elements of so many of the others he’s heard about, if not experienced. “It’s not home,” he surmises for her. Even with the war, and all of the things that led up to the war, it was easier because it was home. “I’m looking forward to meeting her. And… your mom.” That still seems a little unusual, but then so is dimensional travel.

“I don’t know what happened to Jai.” He’d had clearance to investigate on his own, but work kept him from going. It likely would have been like picking at a scab anyway. “But I don’t think he was in the house that day.” Dev sighs and takes his turn to look aside. “I don’t know what happened,” he repeats, but this time meaning for himself. “I’m sorry that… whatever happened hurt you. That it hurt everyone.”

She smiles at him when he speaks of meeting them, but Elisabeth is clearly still concerned about him. She doesn't address what happened to Jaiden. She still can't deal with that. As he apologizes for how he came to be here, though, she says quietly, "Don't. Whatever happened to you? It'll get figured out." There's a tone to her voice, protective and intense. "Between Hana and Richard and me? We're going to figure out what happened to you, Dev." And someone is going to be held accountable.

"For now, I don't want you to worry about that. However you got from the Dead Zone to here, we're just grateful you're alive. Focus on getting better. And don't try to force memories. It's… " Elisabeth pauses and sighs. "As much as I hate to even suggest it… it's altogether possible that they just aren't there. There are telepaths and whatever else out there. It wouldn't be the first time someone stole memories to cover their own asses." She's lived it, after all.

“Yeah.” As far as Devon knows, those memories don't exist. Not even in his dreams. And regardless of being told to not apologize, he can't fully shake the drive to do so. For now he relents on it, with a sigh and a nod, so much in his familiar way. Chances are good he probably won't leave it alone for long though. There are some things one never outgrows.

His head tips back so that it rests against the back of the couch. “I'm really glad you're back.” He lets his head roll to one side so he can look at Liz. “Richard sucks at giving advice.”

Elisabeth scoots to lay her head so she can look at him, pulling her knee up on the couch and facing him. Her grin holds genuine amusement. "He's… well, maybe. I dunno." Shaking her head, she rolls her eyes. "I guess it depends on what kind of advice you're looking for." She reaches out and touches his arm. "I'm glad I'm back too," she tells him softly. "I missed home so much." It's hard to explain to someone, so she doesn't try.

"Tell me about … stuff?" she invites him. "I met your friend Emily." There's a pause and she admits, "Let's hope that knowing me isn't a strike against you. We, uhm… well, our first meeting was not exactly auspicious." Elisabeth is still kind of amused by it. "She's got a lot of fire to her. I actually kinda like her. She stood up to me for you."

“I like her a lot,” Devon admits easily, in probably the most boyish way possible. He smiles faintly as he says it. “That fire’s one of the best things about her. We didn’t get off to a great start either, but…” He shrugs, one hand lifting in a sort of helpless gesture. “I’m persistent?” He weighs the word for a beat, eventually deciding it can stay. “I don’t know. She’s really important to me.”

"Well," Elisabeth says drily, "Given her reactions on the beach and in the hospital? I'd say you're pretty damn important to her too." Her smile is easy, an amused sort of soft. "Persistence is a good trait to have. Especially when it comes to stubborn women," she notes with a roll of her eyes. "We tend to be a little bit … difficult at times. Just ask Richard. And my father." She grins at him then.

"Dad used to say 'oh you're just like your mother' — but it cracked me up when Richard told me what Dad did after Alaska. His comment at the time, he said, was to tell my father — to his face, mind you — 'and here I thought she got all that from her mother'." Devon can appreciate, after the years that those two men have been together, what reaction that probably got from Jared. The smart-assed grin is one Dev's seen a lot of.

“Richard’s not wrong.” Devon’s response is good humored, having heard the exchanges between Richard and Jared often enough to have a good idea how that observation went down. And that he turns it around now, as if there weren’t seven years of absence between himself and Liz, shows just how well he’s been listening to the older men.

After a shake of his head, Dev looks up at the ceiling. “Richard is no help when it comes to girls, and I didn’t try to ask Pops anything. I make enough trouble all on my own.”

She offers him a look of mock-shock and then takes a sofa pillow and lightly bats him. Very lightly. "Brat," Elisabeth retorts on a chuckle. But she flumps back to sit on that same pillow after, his ease with her going a long way toward easing her own fears about his possible resentment.

It makes her laugh outright when he says Richard's no help with girls. "Devon… I wish I could say I'm surprised that Richard was no help, but… " She shrugs a bit and has the grace to look abashed. "We just sort of happened, and neither one of us had a clue how or why. Just… that it is. So considering what you're looking for is advice about relationship-building, Richard is definitely not the one to turn to." She tips her head. "I'm kind of surprised you didn't ask Dad or…" Her voice catching a little on Jaiden's name and she can't speak it. Her emotions for the other man still run deep.

"I'm probably not any better to really ask," she admits to him, glossing over the grief for now. "I mean… I'm not exactly a poster child for long-term stable relationships."

“My… options weren't great when I made the choice to pursue.” Admitting as much is slow, given the reasons. He'd only met Emily once before Jaiden was gone. “And it was easier to talk to Richard first. I guess. He was home and I didn't want to wake Pops up coming in late.”

Devon pushes a shoulder up, shrugging with it. “I think, actually, her dad…” he pauses to chuckle at himself. “Avi told me what I needed to hear.”

Shaking her head, Elisabeth murmurs, "Trust you to wind up finding Avi Epstein's daughter." She cannot help her amusement. "We're an inbred little group of former freedom fighters. Ah well." Looking back at him, she studies him thoughtfully. She's seen very little of Emily Epstein, but what she's seen so far seems to imply that there are deeper feelings for Devon lurking there. She realizes wistfully that he made the transition from gawky teen who needed a mother-figure to young man while she was away. She'll have to tread lightly with him — he's not Aurora's age, and he's not the teen that was bonded so closely to her.

"I'm glad that someone was able to help a little." Elisabeth smiles and reaches out to brush his hair back a bit again, aborting the movement this time. "Sorry… can't help it. I'm still getting used to seeing you so much older," she admits.

It may be that Devon doesn’t see as much of a gap between them, if the easy shrug he replies to her apology is any clue. It isn’t exactly picking up where they left off, too much has happened for that to be possible. He seems willing to keep those ties and even let them evolve however they would.

“Anyway, doesn’t matter to me who her dad is. I’ve told them both as much.” Further evidence of his persistence and deeper feelings.

“I’ve actually spent more time here over the last year than I did before,” Dev admits with a chuckle. “I think Jared’s been okay with it though. Gives him a reason to cook more. There really hasn’t been anything else since the war, just life with Wolfhound and… now Emily.”

"Dad is thrilled with how often you're coming," Elisabeth admits with a grin. "He worries about you and seems really glad that you think of him as a home base." She moves to pick up her tea and sip from it, her blue eyes taking in the changes these years have wrought — he's still lean, but it's a more muscular lean than the gangly teen she left. War has left its marks on him too, and she doesn't ignore them but nor does she comment.

"So… tell me about Wolfhound?" The invitation is quiet, giving him room to tell her whatever he chooses about the place that's so much of his life.

“We operate out of Rochester.” Dev lets his eyes drift closed as he speaks. “There's three teams of six, teams’re kind of divvied up by specialty I guess.” It isn't anything he's looked too deeply into, but it seems that way.

“Amarok’s the heavy hitters. We specialize in explosions and distractions.” A shift of his shoulders is meant to be a shrug. “We all work together pretty great though. Taken out quite a few old Institute.”

There's a nod as he talks, and Elisabeth is paying close attention. "It sounds like you are… well, maybe enjoying isn't quite the right word. But that it's work you're proud of." She smiles a bit. "It sounds like it's a lot of familiar names, from what Richard has said. I like that you have known quantities backing you. Hana will take good care of her people, always." She's genuinely glad for it. "I saw Felix a couple weeks ago too." There's a bit of worry in her blue eyes. "He's a little freaked out, I think." It makes sense.

“I like it,” Devon counters, although it sounds like he's possibly thought a time or two about changing careers. The trips between Rochester and the Safe Zone are likely tedious. “From what I understand, Felix has it rough during the war. Everyone thought you were dead, and… it hit really hard.” He cracks open his eyes and tilts his head to look at Liz. “That crack to the head’s probably not much help, but he'll pull together I'm sure.”

"Yeah, I think he will," Elisabeth agrees softly. She has some mothering to do for some of her people. Including the one who now looks at her. She smiles and leans sideways to brush a kiss to his head. "Lay back down. Get a little more sleep, hmm? I'll stay til my parents get back and then later when you're feeling a bit better, I'll bring Aurora by to meet you." She strokes his hair and says softly, "Love you, kiddo."

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