With Patience And Practice


emily2_icon.gif devon_icon.gif

Scene Title With Patience and Practice
Synopsis Somehow, Devon and Emily's excursion manages to not go worse than it did.
Date September 9, 2018

Ruins of Queens

"Lead the way, Devon."

He doesn’t start out immediately, though he does nod to acknowledge Emily’s readiness to move. Devon’s eyes continue to move as he studies the skeletal remains of the borough. Already he knows of places he’d rather not walk into, places that offer little concealment. He turns away from those and begins down a path broken by weeds and crawling plants.

He doesn’t offer anything in conversation while they walk, letting the silence rest as an aid to his watchfulness. The shift in demeanor doesn’t seem just in taking his second chance with Emily seriously, but a long-practiced extension come from entering possibly hostile territory.

The way does take them well away from the fence, and the route he takes is as easy as he can find. The crawling plants that reclaim concrete grab at the unaware, and the broken roadway provides plenty of obstacles to get around. For a time it seems like the way chosen is aimless, without a destination in mind. It definitely feels like they’ve been walking nearly as far as they had just to get from the bus stop to the fence. But eventually Dev does find what he’s looking for, a larger building that’s more exterior walls than roof.

After finding door, Devon draws his firearm and leads the way inside. He doesn’t hear anyone, or anything, echoing about, but it can’t be too careful. “You can wait here,” he offers, with a gesture toward the space they’d entered. His backpack comes off and one crutch is left leaning on a wall. He half hobbles away without waiting to see if she listens, going to clear the rest of the building.

'Wait here,' is a bit of a new experience, but she does as requested, though not without a look over her shoulder every couple of seconds. She shuffles toward his bag and crouches down, hand against the wall as she lays her crutches down beside her. Well, if I'm going to be here by myself for a minute … might as well look threatening. she figures, digging through the bag for the firearm meant for her.

The firearm isn’t difficult to find. It’s in a plastic, padded case, unloaded although the magazine is loaded and resting beside the gun. Beneath the case that holds the weapon are a few boxes of ammunition as well.

It’s not too long before Devon is returning. The trip through the building did confirm that it’s mostly open inside with a few crumbly walls still standing. Someone could easily hide behind one, but since there were no sounds of confrontation and no shots fired it’s probably safe to say that he didn’t find anyone. As he comes back into view, the gun is returned to the holster in his waistband.

“It’s clear,” he says, even with a backward glance over his shoulder. Habit, probably. He grins faintly, finding Emily with the spare weapon. A touch of his easy going side contrasting with the soldier that had led the way through the ruins.

“It’s open enough in there to practice at ten yards,” Dev explains as he tips his head toward the opening he’d returned through. “I might have some targets in that bag too. But I could probably scrounge up some old bottles or cans if there aren’t.” There’s plenty of them if you just look.

The gun is in her hand as he comes back, the loaded magazine clicked into place, though it lays flat on her palm rather than in a position where it could be used. She's crouched, back into the wall, and looks up at him without alarm. She sets the gun back down in the case for now, closing it back up, and putting the case back in his bag.

"Let's head in. Can you go ahead and set something up?" she asks, avoiding openly addressing how exhausted she is. The unusual slowness as she comes back to her feet just might say it for her. "If you're hungry, we can eat after that. Grilled cheese. I used butter for this." 'So you better appreciate it if you eat it.' is implied.

There are a lot of social nuances that Devon simply misses that tends to lead to his awkward interactions. But he isn’t so oblivious when it comes to physical states, having spent years soldiering, and his time on the run as a freedom fighter before that. He’s learned the signs of physical stress, especially from pushing oneself too far. There’s a touch of concern in his expression when Emily shows those signs of tiredness, but he doesn’t remark on it.

“Yeah?” The subject of lunch is as great an excuse to slow down if there ever was one. Dev flickers a look to her pack and nods agreement. “Or we could just eat here instead of dragging everything there, then back out.” It makes sense, and it’s offered as a suggestion. “Think about it. I’ll go set things up for shooting.” He lingers for just a breath longer, not quite long enough for an answer, then turns to set up a makeshift range.

Left alone, Emily briefly considers bringing the food into the other area, but slowly slides back down to the ground instead, letting out a sigh as she stares at a fixed point in front of her.

Way past my limit.

She closes her eyes, willing herself to soldier through it, and then pulls her bag to herself, legs out before her. The zipper undone, she takes out the plastic containers, laying one off to her left, with the water beside it. No weight on the way back will make it better, though. she thinks, even though she knows perfectly well it won't work like that.

Yeah. Fuck.

"Might as well just eat out here, you're right." Emily calls out, patting her bag down so it takes less room, and starting to pry open her container while she waits. She sets the lid underneath, looking down at the snack. Grilled cheese, cut carrots. She picks one of the chunks up, taking a bite with a less-than-satisfying crunch.

There isn’t any response from the other room, other than the slightest pause in his footsteps. Devon glances over his shoulder, perhaps reconsidering the outing. He knows his own limits, but there’s worry that Emily’s reached her own. Getting himself and her back to the bus stop will require a trick or two if she can’t make it. But there’s time to worry about that later.

His footfalls rise and fall in sound as the range is set up. He isn’t gone long, but neither does Devon rush back. He takes his time finding suitable debris that can be used as targets, an old coffee can and several empty beer bottles are set up on a wall still half standing. Tapping into his ability, a couple of timbers are moved and set up on a far wall, he can tack those targets onto them later. It isn’t the best of ranges, but it’ll work.

After brushing his hands off on his jeans, he re-emerges with that half limp. Dev crosses the shallow room, what was probably an entryway at some point before the war, to sit on the ground beside Emily. His crutch is set aside, leg carefully stretched out before the container meant for him is picked up. “You ever been shooting before,” he asks, a little hesitant. He doesn’t want to pry, but he does need to know how much she knows.

She's polite enough to wait for him to come back before picking at anything else, brushing her hair behind her ear as he settles down beside her. After he's sat and reached for the other container, she lifts up the grilled cheese, about to take a bite when he asks the question. There's a shake of her head as she bites the corner of the diagonally-cut sandwich off. "No. Never really was a need. I mean… we had a gun — a revolver — in the apartment when I was growing up, and I know the theory behind it. You see people do it enough in movies. Prime the hammer, pull the trigger."

It's possible she was exposed to one-too-many old Westerns, and as she realizes that she starts to smirk before cutting it off by taking another bite of food. Emily rolls one shoulder in a shrug, reaching for the water bottle. "I mean it's not like…" she starts, and then cuts herself off before finishing the thought. She lets out a hum as she considers it, taking the time to sip before making her decision. "Not like I probably wouldn't have, had there been, you know…" she lapses again, this time intentionally. There's a pointed lift to her brow at accentuate the end of the implied statement as she takes another bite of the sandwich, letting her hand fall back to her lap as she sighs from her nose, looking down at what's left.

"As it stood, it's not like my mother would have gone through the effort. No, just a fucking glass doll to her. One she gets to dote on and worry over in equal measure." she lifts what's left of the sandwich, gesturing vaguely toward the other room. "She'd never approve of all this." Food's made her talkative, apparently.

“I imagine my parents would probably’ve been mortified the first time I ever picked up a real gun.” Devon pries back the lid on his container to pick up a sandwich half. “I think, given how the world was turning when I did, and how things continued after, they’d be okay with it now.” While he isn’t speaking for her mother necessarily, it does hang off his words that maybe the why of doing would outweigh the act of doing in regards to parents.

He shrugs, almost dismissively, and bites into his sandwich. “First thing,” he says around toasted bread and melty cheese, “is to remember that the gun is always loaded. It’s the most important thing about firearms, they’re never not loaded. Even if you just took out the magazine and cleared the chamber it, it’s still loaded. Can’t ever have an accident if you think that way. Second, don’t point it at anything you’re not willing to destroy. The only real purpose of a firearm is to destroy things, whether that’s an enemy or a bad guy or if you’re out hunting. You’re destroying life. We use kid gloves when we talk about firearms as self defense, and part of it’s true, you’re literally defending yourself if you have to draw your gun. But to point it at anything, you need to be okay with destroying whatever.”

They’re grim words, not great for conversation, but learning to use a firearm is a grim thing also. There’s rules that need to be understood. “I’m not trying to scare you off from learning, but …it’s my responsibility to teach you the right way, so you know how serious it is.” And there, Dev pauses to take another bite and give Emily a chance to absorb what’s been said about the weapons so far.

The complete lack of judgement expelled from him comes as a surprise for some reason, though it's a pleasant one. The straight-shooting addressal of what they're about to get into is also refreshing. She pops another chunk of carrot into her mouth to chew over as she listens, giving a slight shake of her head as he insinuates the subject might intimidate her. On the contrary, she's glad he's taking this as seriously as she is, if not moreso.

"No, I appreciate it, actually." she says, a tinge of relief in her voice. "This isn't something to fuck around with."

A pause as she fishes for the stick of carrot, bending it against the bottom of the container so it snaps down to a more bite-sized piece. "What was your first experience shooting?" she dares to ask.

Devon is quiet for a long minute, chewing slowly as he visits the memory. Stage weapons don’t count, not when it comes to firearms instructions, and as such, it’s a darker memory that he recalls. “I was on Roosevelt Island,” he says quietly, looking down at his half eaten sandwich triangle. “The Dome had been up for about two weeks. A friend had just asked me to check in on a family for him and… Humanis First was going around clearing buildings.” He frowns a little, eyes slanting a look at Emily. “They were taking Evos out for execution,” he explains. Then, looking away again, “I had a rifle, so I stepped in to stop them. One of them charged, I squeezed the trigger.”

It’s a more sterile version of what happened on the streets that night. There’s obviously more to the story, an epilogue perhaps. But today they’re on about firearms and gun safety. Dev absent rubs at a wrist, faint scars make pale lines that encircle the joint just visible in the afternoon light.

As he shoots a glance at her, she turns her head in return to him, paused in her meal. Her gaze lingers on him a moment after he breaks eye contact before she looks down to pick up the other half of her sandwich. It's tempting to linger on the thought of how lucky she was that she was spared seeing or living anything like a door-to-door hunt, but that would break the flow of the conversation. And for the first time, they're finally talking, so…

She decides to go back further. "The only time I've ever handled a gun before was after the Bomb." she says plainly enough. The toastlike bread is still held pinched gently in her hand, forgotten about momentarily. "The second one. Tutors had already left for the day, so I was home alone waiting for Mom to get home from work. Turned on the news to pass the time, and saw the whole damn world was falling apart. I had…" she pauses, her free hand grasping at something that's not there, twisting her wrist for a moment like she's showing off whatever object it's meant to be. "My PSP. I wanted to know what was happening, but I also didn't. Everything seemed to be getting worse and worse, and then when the blast happened, it just… I don't know, it was a tipping point."

There's a brief pause as she remembers the moment the EMP blast washed over the apartment, throwing everything into darkness. There's a quiet 'heh' that escapes her as she looks off at a distant point, that image overlaid overtop of everything else. "I had no idea what was going on. I thought the world was ending. So I got a flashlight, found the gun, and…"

She chooses to not elaborate on the rest of it. Not tearing the apartment over, not the worry she'd never see her mother again, not the wondering what she'd do if she was all alone. "It was a long night." she says simply, finally lifting up the sandwich to take another bite. Grilled cheese makes everything better, after all.

"We moved out of town after that." she chooses to share. "And I only moved back to New York just this year." The 'by herself' part of that might be obvious.

When Emily begins speaking again, he tips his head slightly and looks at her. Devon is quiet and still, listening with conflicting emotions. He looks away again, as the story comes to an end, choosing to study his hands. That’s a time he almost never visits, not intentionally. But he did invite the story, in a way. “Yeah,” he agrees, distantly, “it was a long night.”

He picks out a carrot stick, though his interest is turned inward instead of on the conversation. The crunch of food helps to break up some of the silence for the long seconds that follow. Eventually, though, he does look at her again, and with whatever memories he has of that day still lingering he still manages some kind of awkward smile. “I’m glad you moved back,” Dev says, earnestly. “Gave me the chance to make an ass out of myself and gain a new friend out of it.”

The first comment causes her to look back at him, seeking clarification for why it makes any difference to him. He goes right ahead and explains it, and her only response to it is to look away, have one last bite, and another drink of water.

Friends, huh?

She slides the lid out from under the container and begins resealing it in the silence. After that's squared, she slides the leftovers back into her bag. It'd be best to say something to re-establish some distance between them, since he's clearly jumped the gun, but she can't quite bring herself there. "It'd be better if you weren't with Wolfhound." she murmurs, it feeling strange to say the name out loud. She wipes the crumbs and grease from her fingers onto the thigh of her denim. Napkins weren't something she thought to bring. "Then again, we'd not be sitting here if it wasn't implied you knew your way around a gun, because of them."

"Nothing about the Safe Zone has been like what I expected." Emily continues as she uses the wall to help herself up, standing slowly. "But I'm still glad for it. It's good to be home."

"Too many people know the name Epstein, though." Even if she herself was only just beginning to scratch the surface of why that was the case, it still unsettled her. The abrupt explanation is a window into her motivation for asking Devon out here. "I'm not going to wait around for something to happen just because my name is what it is. I can't exactly hide behind my mother's, either." It wouldn't save her any questions, at least, being it turned out there also was far more behind the Raith name than she knew, too. No, anonymity just didn't run in her family, apparently.

She swings the half-opened bag back over her shoulder. Arms lying back against her crutches, she decides to head on in. "Take your time. I'm going to go look at what you set up."

“What’s wrong with Wolfhound,” Devon asks as he seals away the remainder of his sandwich and carrot sticks. And he’s definitely curious as to her opinion of the organization. It’s true, a lot of people don’t care for the paramilitary, there’s plenty who probably think the group has overstayed its usefulness. Even if they’re still finding those people who committed atrocities that aided in leading up to the war. The container, once the lid is snapped in place, is slid into his own backpack for safe keeping. Then he pulls himself onto his feet, dragging his backpack along with and up onto a shoulder. His crutches are found and he’s following her again.

“You could make the name your own,” he points out. Though something in his tone implies he’s sure that’s already what’s intended. “Or… take a totally different last name? It’s not unheard of. Actors do it frequently.” Or they did, he remembers, a long time ago before the war.

An empty space near the doorway is found to set his backpack in, and the plastic case with the secondary firearm is pulled out of it. “To be honest, I really don’t know anything about Avi. He keeps to himself, scowls at me a lot, he’s alright at leadership.” There’s an unspoken but following that point, though Dev doesn’t elaborate. The case is opened and set on a chunk of debris that’s high enough so no one has to stoop too low to reach. “I pranked him once. Can’t be sure of his reaction, it’s been like five months and I haven’t heard anything.”

'What's wrong with Wolfhound?' is definitely a question Emily means to ignore as long as possible. She looks up at the sky as it shines down clearly where there should be a roof to block it, squinting down the makeshift range. In the process of slinging her bag back off to throw it down by the door, she reaches inside to pull free a pair of dark aviators, shaking them open and sliding them over her eyes. Much better. She leaves one of her crutches against the wall as she walks toward the middle of the space.

He exits the hall sooner than expected, still talking away. It'd be great if he'd stop — she had walked off hoping for a moment alone before they moved on. Oh well, then. Maybe having something to shoot here in a moment would shed the excess tension that was starting to build due to the sharing, and due to the comment about being friends.

She's stunned when he actually mentions Avi by name, her jaw slacked in surprise as she stares at him. He seems oblivious, occupied with setting up the case in an easy-to-reach place. Fucking figures. she wants to say about her father's silence, but the words don't come.

At first, nothing at all is said, the silence lingering between them perhaps sounding just as easy and comfortable as the rest had been. Her gaze cuts cold and sharp behind her aviators though, the tension in her having skyrocketed, and she takes augmented steps forward to lean around him, grabbing ahold of the 9mm handgun and walking back toward the center of the room while looking it over with some urgency. She appears to grow frustrated with it, keeping it pointed either at the ground or away from them both.

After she's come to a halt in the center of the room again, still looking at the weapon she snaps, "Where's the safety on this?" not entirely sure which nub is the magic toggle she currently needs to switch. It's a miracle there wasn't a swear located somewhere in there.

The sudden snatch of firearm pulls Devon out of his casual conversational tones and he looks at Emily with an odd sort of calm. Obviously he’s been in stressful, dangerous situations, and the sudden anger involving a gun doesn’t startle him. He doesn’t go into a panic or rush to find cover. Instead he watches her. His eyes follow as she stalks away and struggles with the mechanisms and as her frustration grows.

It’s only when she speaks that he moves. Purposeful but slow, and without any comment of his own he approaches. He can’t see her expression well enough with those sunglasses on — even though he’s seeking, trying to find an understanding — but his own is a muddle of confusion and concern.

Once he’s near enough, Dev looks down at her hands. He still says nothing, offers no explanation for what she’s missed. He simply takes her hands. Without removing the firearm, he adjusts her grip, the lead hand is snugged tight to the upper end of the grip, the supporting hand adjusted so that it cradles the lower end and contours the lead. As her hands are fitted into place, she should feel the secondary safety press against the ball of her lead hand. He raises her hands so the weapon is aimed downrange, then steps just enough behind so he can turn her shoulders into a better alignment for controlled shooting.

Then he turns away, a small crease to his brow. He takes a few steps to stand near the doorway, his back pressing against the remains of the door frame and arms folding over his chest.

His lack of a response is more frustrating than it should be, but she had just yanked the weapon out from under his nose. By the time he reaches her, her hands are shaking, but he just rights them how they should be. His initial touch causes a flinch from wanting nothing to do with him at that moment, but she patiently waits for everything to be set.

The next thought she has, as her hands settle around the gun more properly, is how much faith he must have in her. The safety is intuited into an off position, now that she's better set… Had she been in his shoes, she'd have refused to assist without an explanation, and she doesn't understand why he's any different. Her finger curls around the trigger, gun aimed down toward the bottles and debris. There's an additional wave of frustration that hits her, for some reason angry that he blindly wants to be her friend.

Her finger squeezes the trigger before she realizes just how much tension is built up in her arms and shoulders, the sound and the kick back from the gun startling her. She steadies her hands again before her, eyes widened in surprise at herself.

There hadn't been the satisfying sound of something shattering, though. Nothing had been destroyed.

The pause is brief before she squares herself again, firing a second time. It, too, goes wide. Goddammit. Her teeth grit in frustration as she adjusts the angle of it slightly, hoping for the best this time. The third shot goes low, dust rising up from the damaged debris. The fourth is fired almost immediately after, zero attempt to correct her aim being made, and the glass gratefully explodes and spirals back after being pinged by it.

The shattering sound makes her pause, some of the tension falling off of her in relief, but it doesn't get rid of all of it. The gun is pointed down toward the ground, and Emily allows herself to look back at him, feeling better enough to speak even if she's completely regressed into the sharp-spirited girl he first interacted with.

"Don't fucking talk to me about him. I don't want to fucking hear about him. I don't give a shit what he's good at, because he's fucking awful, Devon, and it's none of your goddamned business, so don't ask, okay?"

She looks back down toward the bottles again, raising the gun and pulling the trigger with enough force she lets out a frustrated grunt. As might be expected, it goes plenty wide. "He's what's fucking wrong."

Through it all he says absolutely nothing. Devon watches her shoot, miss, shoot again. He offers no advice to her form, makes no critiques. There’s no judgement. He just watches. It’s probably infuriating, and he likely knows it is. But he also can’t make himself to say anything more. It may not even matter anymore anyway, his last chance blown because of his own stupidity.

He moves when the shooting finally pauses, but not to make adjustments to her form. There’s something cathartic about shooting that even he appreciates, and letting the rounds be spent destroying inanimate objects without real intent is likely the only thing he can do at this point. But he moves, he limps to his backpack to collect the boxes of extra ammunition. Those are set on that space beside the gun case also, in easy reach for when Emily needs to reload.

Tucking his hands into his pockets this time, Dev returns to his place near the door.

The rest of the clip goes down in short order, and she likely would keep attempting to fire if the top of the gun hadn't slid back in a very obvious 'You're done now' indicator. Her brow knits together in exasperation, not knowing what to do with the weapon, or with the frustration that remains.

Devon's apology for the accidental transgression comes in the form of that silently-left box of bullets for her to try again. There's no asking for help after she's just blown up on him like that, so she does her best to make sense of it herself, turning over the gun on its side and thumbing for the release on the magazine that had clicked into place when she'd first inserted it.

It takes her a few attempts to slide the first bullet in properly, making sure it's settled in, and then she's off filling up the rest of the magazine. The circuitous, repetitive act seems to calm her far more than the act of shooting and missing, her shoulders slacking their tension even if her hands still are unsteady.

The filled magazine snapped back into place after no more bullets will willingly slide in, she considers what needs done to get the gun back in the position it was before. Tapping the top alone doesn't seem to do anything… it won't budge forward. Hesitantly, she tries pulling back on it, and feels it start to move. That doesn't seem right, so she puts the gun down in the case before doing anything to make matters worse.

Once free of the weapon, she's stepping back and turning away and running her hands through her hair. Even if she got it back together, shooting again when she was this upset was only going to make it worse. Both hands slide down her neck, knuckles facing up as she holds them before her to confirm they're both still shaking, and then she drops both her arms by her side as she continues to shuffle forward in a pace.

She seems calm enough … until she crouches suddenly to pick up a loose piece of fallen debris almost in stride, holding onto it with an angry expression until it's thrown at the nearest non-Devon wall. It collides with the wall, but she stumbles back until she's found something to lean against, looking more perturbed than even before. She'd crumple to the ground until she sorted out her feelings if she weren't too proud for it.

This was a mistake. she thinks in silence, amidst a cacophony of other similar thoughts. One in particular snakes out and causes her to look back to Devon to sharply ask, "Why the fuck do you want to be my friend, Devon? Did he fucking put you up to this?"

Sometimes you just need to battle through your anger and frustration on your own. Devon knows this, the number of times he's vented all his dark feelings for the world into single actions and finding the process of those actions is innumerable. Even though he can see her struggling with firing accurately, with reloading the empty magazine, he stays put to watch without judgement.

He only looks away briefly, when that chunk of rubble is thrown into a nearby wall. Even that is regarded without opinion, and something about his posture says he probably would have stayed in place even if it were thrown at him.

The question obviously catches him off guard, but not for the reasons Emily suspects. Confusion wins over for a quick minute as he tries to place where the accusation might have come from. Last he checked, the only orders he got from Avi were related to Wolfhound operations, and anything to do with his personal life was personal.

“No one put me up to anything,” he answers quietly, a frown beginning to form. But it’s not angry, it’s puzzled. “I couldn’t care less about what he thinks. What I do is based on my own choices, not because anyone put me up to it.”

He lets that rest for a minute, allows a little bit of time for that to be absorbed before continuing. “As for why I’d want to be your friend…” Dev trails off, shrugging with hands spreading. “I could wax poetic and ask why the sky is blue or why sunrises are the best and give fanciful answers. But truth is, it’s because I want to. Because you’re interesting and intriguing far different from anyone else I’ve ever known. I don’t care who your parents are, I don’t want to be friends with them. I want to be friends with you.”

The simple answer doesn't provide an 'aha' moment. She simply doesn't know what to do with it, hand coming to her face to massage the bridge of her nose and slide under the aviators to rub her eyes in exasperation. As far as she's concerned, she'd much rather slam the lid back down on the can of worms and somehow go back to before she had mentioned Wolfhound.

Her jaw sets and teeth grind for a moment as she bounces back and forth between his statements, trying to decide which to address. Every time she starts to answer the second half of what he said, she doesn't know how to process the simple innocence in just wanting to be friends with someone, so she runs away from it by returning to the initial topic of her father and Devon's relationship with him — which she's equally not comfortable with discussing right now, especially after the topic had been introduced by surprise.

"I don't get it." she confesses abruptly, sounding exhausted. She rubs the palm of her hand down her face, eyes opening as she looks back to him. "I didn't ask you out here to …" Emily's brow furrows down as she cuts herself off before completing the callous statement.

Yes, they were still on different pages, but 'Hey, let's be friends, I don't care what your dad thinks about it, fuck him' is a message she's starting to put together out of what he's said, and that puts her back where she was before he walked in here: definitely not ready to call him a friend, but willing to still ride out the second chance situation. She takes in a deep breath and sighs it out with a slow nod to herself as she works her way through all the mental hills on this rollercoaster. It wasn't like walking off right now was an option, either.

"Fine. Whatever." she snaps, weary but sharp. "But so help me, you don't talk to him about any of this. If he wants to be involved in my life he can fucking make the effort himself, and show up for once."

Afterward, she looks back toward the open case, still disgruntled. "… Now can you tell me what I did wrong, here? It wouldn't go back together."

“What I do on my time is my business,” Devon states simply. It’s so matter of fact, and to him the line is so clear, freetime is free and there’s little his commanding officers can do unless it’s illegal anyway. But this, creating a makeshift range out in the ruins isn’t so much illegal as it is generally risky. And whatever angst and animosity she’s holding, he hopes she works through it, but it’s not his business.

He looks at the firearm from where he’s standing, then drops his arms to his sides and limps over to examine the weapon. He picks it up and drops the magazine from the receiver, then clears the chamber. The slide is racked back and he aims downrange to dry fire before sliding the mag back into the receiver and racking the slide again. But before he hands it over, Dev eases the slide back just enough to look into the chamber, ensuring that there is a round ready to fire.

Releasing the slide, he sets the gun onto the case again so that Emily can take control of it. “Sometimes, you just need to drop the mag and try again,” he explains with a small shrug. He’s not an armorer, so the why of it is not really understood.

Seeing him pull the slide back to fix the 'issue' causes her to narrow her eyes suspiciously at the weapon. Well, at least she'd been on the right path. Emily pushes away from the wall, coming to stand next to him with that same quiet frustration beneath the surface, though it's slowly dying down. He was pretty firm in that his business was his business alone, and she was tentatively believing him about it.

"All right. Noted." she says as she reaches out to pick the gun up again. Her irises shift to the side as she glances at him, visible to him at this angle. "So, what can I do to fix my aim?" she asks, looking back down at her hand as she picks the gun up.

“Slow down,” Devon answers. Again it’s simply stated, without opinion. He knows she was frustrated, he can guess she probably still is, and frustration will have a bit to do with accuracy. “And practice. When it goes wide, you either have too much or too little finger on the trigger. If it’s high, you’re pulling and probably anticipating the recoil, and low you’re pushing at the target.”

Stepping so that he’s standing behind her, he again doesn’t ask but just moves her arms into position. He adjusts her hands and turns her shoulders just slightly. Then, he moves to the side to mirror the stance, first without and then with his own firearm. “When you fire,” he explains as he raises his gun slightly. “Your lead hand should push the weapon away from you while the guide hand pulls it back to you. It’ll give you some control over the recoil. Watch your sights, the dot at the end of the muzzle should line up in the center of the two at the rear of the slide. Your finger, when it comes to the trigger, should only touch with the meaty part just before the first knuckle. Take a breath in, and squeeze the trigger as you exhale.”

He doesn’t fire, but he does demonstrate as he speaks. The sights are lined up, tension in his forearms and shoulders show the push-pull he mentioned. The only thing he doesn’t show while holding the weapon is touching the trigger. That’s shown after Devon has returned the firearm to his holster and he points. “This is where the trigger should rest.”

A snort of breath is expelled from her nose at his short suggestions. She's about to ask him if he has any real advice when it thankfully comes pouring out of him. Good. This has gone back to being productive again. She takes note of how she's positioned, letting the posture come undone as she observes his demonstration. He's very serious, so she tries not to snerk at his highly-technical mention of 'the meaty part' of her trigger finger. The message was conveyed, after all.

Bringing both arms back up, she cradles the bottom of the gun with one hand, and grips it with the other, working on recreating what she'd been shown from scratch. Her eyes close, she takes a long breath to steady herself, and lets it out over the spanse of several seconds. Slow down. she repeats to herself. Opening her eyes to look down the sight, she adjusts her posture and tilts her head slightly to help as she lines the shot up. Just like in a video game.

Slow down. she reminds herself, reaching for the trigger finally. It throws the position of the gun off ever so slightly, so she patiently lines everything back up.

Bang. the sound bounces back off the walls back at her as the gun jumps in her hand, and the bullet tears through the neck of the targeted beer bottle, the glass shattering and splintering and flying off in every direction. Way more satisfying than landing a hit in a game.

A quiet laugh escapes her. "Beginner's luck." she tells herself, almost sounding scolding, even if she's very happy with the result. Her arm starts to fall, but she lifts them back up to line up another with the same precise care as the first, minding her breathing. It's already not as easy, taking a longer time for everything to fall into place. At the end of an exhale, she fires again. A miss, but she calmly adjusts and momentarily after fires a third shot. Another bottle delightfully explodes.

Her elbows bend and she lowers the gun, apparently satisfied. And tired, judging by the tremble along her arm as she fought to keep her aim steady.

"Okay. Your turn." she says, looking to him and gesturing with a nod back down the range.

With his arms folding over his chest again, Devon watches in silence as Emily takes her shots. He makes no effort to correct her form, offers no advice. He can see her making those small adjustments as she finds she needs to correct. And he can’t help but grin just a little bit when that first bottle shatters. Not bad, for having never taught someone before.

“Beginner’s luck nothing.” Dev rolls his eyes, exaggerating some feigned exasperation. “Miss Teach-Me-To-Shoot then destroy three bottles like you’d been doing this for years.” He shakes his head, though the easy banter only lasts the few seconds. As the last word is said he sobers again and steps forward.

His own firearm is drawn. He doesn’t go through each motion step by step, as he instructed Emily to do. It comes naturally now, after years of practice. As the gun is raised, he spends less than a second to line up the shot before spending two rounds at the first bottle. Something in his form denies any sense of conceit, and the double-tap is simply how he always practices. It happens again when he fires through an empty coffee can, the rounds penetrating twin holes too close together to have been either accidental or showing off.

Two final rounds are plugged into the timbers he’d moved earlier, to be used as stands for the paper targets. He holds for a solid beat as the echoing fades, then straightens and returns his firearm to the holster. He turns and looks at Emily, one hand motioning for her to take another turn.

Her brow arches up in a dare for him to do better as he passes the comment about her accuracy. So of course he does, blasting shots off with graceful precision. Emily actually frowns. "Oh, come on." she tells him, voice dragging. When he motions for her to try again, all she can do is shake her head and square her posture again. She lifts her arms back up, looking down the sight …

… and realizes something's not quite right.

She lifts her finger off the trigger, ankle twisting to shift her foot into a new position as she tries to salvage the feeling of being grounded, unsteadily starting to wobble. Devon being the only thing close by, she reaches out with her left hand to grab ahold his arm and sleeve to try and steady herself and prevent the fall. Emily lets out a careful breath as she shuffles her feet about until she feels steady again, releasing her grip on him without a word.

Her eyes search the ground before her for a moment before she decides to give it another try.

"Watch out," she murmurs to indicate she doesn't plan on moving from her current stable position. Her hands brace the weapon before her again, and she goes through the effort of stabilizing her breathing as she looks down the sight toward the coffee can he'd shot moments before. She holds as steady as she can, and fires off three more shots. Only one new hole appears in the side of the can.

Her hands part again and she lets her arms fall back to her side. "I think…" she starts to say, seriously considering what should likely come after. Her brow furrows. "… we should have a talk about how we're getting back." Emily shakes her head to herself, a frown starting to tug at her features. "I won't be able to go as quickly as we did on the way out." And it already was pretty slow going.

Instinct more than anything has Devon reaching for Emily as she grabs onto his arm, that one holds steady while the other weaves behind her upper back supportively. Once she’s found her footing again and decided that she’s stable enough to take the shot, he moves back a half step. It’s close enough that if she tumbles again he can catch her, but not so close that he’s in her space.

“I think we can sit and have that talk,” he replies easily. Dev tips his head over toward their backpacks, there’s still a half sandwich and carrot sticks left if she needs the food. Then he takes a sidling step that direction, more prompting his intention than trying to lead the way. “Let’s rest.”

She turns the gun on its side, replacing the safety in the on position before turning away from the range, albeit reluctantly. They'd just started, after all. Her steps are slow and careful, trying to avoid any more loss of balance and arm-pinwheeling. She turns back to settle down to the ground slowly, right next to her backpack.

"Right…" she sighs, pulling the pack back open to find her phone. She slides it out and keys the screen to show the time, frowning at it. Was it really that late already?

"So it's… 4:35 now. Sun will be down by like 7 at the latest." Her voice is laced with disappointment as she looks down the range. "God, that sucks. Went through all this effort of coming out here some place quiet that wouldn't get the cops called on us, and everything." She bites down on her lip, trying to gauge how much more time they'd have to practice before leaving. Honestly, was it worth potentially risking being on this side of the fence after dark, just to get a few more shots in?

He follows at her pace, a hand ready to help but only if she wants it. For Devon, personally, he doesn’t like assistance being forced upon him — unless it’s obvious that he wouldn’t function in some way without that assistance, but even then he’d likely be half dead or lacking a limb. And it’s that preference that holds him at a distance, he’s there but only if Emily finds she really needs the help.

He finds his crutches once she’s sitting, though he eases himself down beside her rather than continue to walk around on his own leg. It probably needs the rest too, even if his concern is more for her than himself.

“It’s fine,” Dev says as he drags his backpack closer to him. “After you rest up a bit, we can head back and probably just catch the last bus.” Rideshare is an option, too, if they miss the bus. It isn’t free, but he can cover that cost. He digs into his pack and finds that container with the half sandwich and carrot sticks. After prying back the lid, he offers it to Emily.

Disgruntled, she reaches out to pick up one of the remaining sticks, biting off half of it and gesturing with the rest at the range. "We just got here." she states, not exactly complaining, even though it's clear she thinks it's a shame to leave so soon. Emily turns her head to him just slightly, checking to see if he has similar thoughts about the matter.

“Yeah,” Devon agrees, drawing the word out. “But it’s not like there’s suddenly going to be civilization out here tomorrow. Or whenever the next day is.” It’s a little presumptive, perhaps, to assume she’d want to go shooting again, with him of all people, and he shrugs to dismiss the idea before it can be realized fully. “I mean, if you want, I don’t mind coming back.”

Emily takes the opportunity to pop the rest of the carrot and chew on it thoroughly to avoid having to answer. Eventually, she shakes her head. He really was a glutton for punishment, wasn't he?

Her head leans back into the wall as she stares up at the sky, thinking in silence.

"Sorry… for yelling." she thinks to say, the clouds reflecting off her lenses. "We would have had more time otherwise."

When she opts to munch on carrots instead of answer right away, Devon looks away. He studies the doorway that leads back to the street, and the bit of wall he can see just beyond. When she voices an apology, he only grins that crooked grin of his.

“Water under the bridge,” he says as he stands again. Leaving her to finish off the food, he half hops to gather the firearm and ammunition. The weapon is cleared, magazine and rounds placed into the box along with the gun. Once the container is sealed, he carries it and the ammunition back to his backpack, all things going into the pack after he’s seated again.

Emily's lips quirk to one side skeptically as he brushes the whole thing off. Maybe she should do the same. He's like … a puppy. she thinks, not for the first time. When he comes back and sits, she shrugs. "Thanks, I think." she says, adjusting her seated position. Debris-laden ground really doesn't make the best seating arrangements. As little as she was looking forward to starting the return trip, this also wasn't as comfortable as she'd been hoping. Probably for the best, all things considered.

She slides her phone back into her backpack, sealing it up with three good tugs on the zipper. "About ready?"

Juggling all his things back into his bag, Devon nods as Emily speaks. He zippers his bag closed, then hauls himself to his feet. The pack is slung onto his shoulders and crutches are collected again, but he hangs back, watching the doorway and examining the bit of sky that’s visible through the remains of ceiling, until she’s on her feet and ready to go also.

The interlude while he collects himself allows Emily to look back down the range they'd made one last time. She was still cautious, hardly willing to trust, yet there Devon was: patient, unjudging, unabashed… and persistent, if nothing else.

She wasn't at all sure how this supposed friendship was going to work, with so many topics off the table, but he had more than proven his willingness in at least trying. For all his efforts, she supposed she owed him being an acquaintance who didn't yell at him as much.

To have patience with him, as he was demonstrating patience with her.

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