discovery at EQ2

charles-lloyd-devon:

william-ashford:

"You didn’t, Devon. You didn’t do a damn thing wrong.”

Devon’s words made his blood boil and his heart break. It was obvious, so fucking obvious, that the man still believed what he was saying. Those words weren’t just ingrained. He really hadn’t believed in anything else.

That much, William had already known, from the day they met. Henry Devon had done his work well, after all. He’d left his mark.

"Charles…"

His voice cracked as this time, with the name, he thought of their son, the golden child that they both already poured their heart into before he’d even arrived. 

For now, he pushed the thought aside. This was far more immediate. 

"You took control. You needed it. That was necessary. I promise there’s nothing wrong with that. I’d have done it, too.”

There was, and he knew it - whatever Henry had done, this was still murder they were talking about - but honestly, he didn’t care. He might not have even done the same - he’d been in a bad enough situation of his own, and done nothing - but it was enough, for now, for this, to say so. For Devon, he’d have done it. And he would now, if by some chance the bastard was still alive out there. He would have found him and taught him a lesson or two of his own.

The General would support that decision til the day he died.

For now, he swiped his thumb over the tears on Devon’s cheeks, pulling him close again and pressing the man’s ear to his chest, hoping that this - like it had some other times before - would help soothe him.

“Oh…”

He felt the sobbing rising in his chest, coming out of nowhere, making no sense to him at all. None of his emotional turmoil did. Nor did William’s words.

After years by the General’s side, after years of being confronted with unnecessary discussions and arguments about morality and ethics, after hearing doubts and qualms and objections, the approval of something so dangerously close to murder came as a surprise. Of course, in the end, William had always remembered his place, by Devon’s side, as his General, and had complied. First as his second in command only, of course. How much more complicated and wonderful things were now.

But this was… still different. Devon hadn’t even ordered it, hadn’t worded a single wish.

“You are… really proud of me? Because of… what I… did? You would… do the same? Why would you… rip him apart? You… never even met him…”

It was surprising how easily William could take that horrible confusion away, though.

A gentle touch. A brush of the tip of his thumb… and then… William’s heartbeat.

Close and strong and loud. As it should be.

A heartbeat that could drown all dark voices at night, that could make the hallucinations less scary and make his worries disappear.

It didn’t erase the past. It didn’t loosen the knot in his throat, but it made his body relax. It made the confusion bearable. It made him feel safe.

And finally, with the relaxation, his control loosened, too. And the first sob slipped through.

Devon didn’t know where it came from, which depth of buried memories it had escaped, why he didn’t know what to feel or what to think right now. What was right? What was wrong? After all, he’d believed in necessity and science, in his father being responsible and reasonable. Even after the short conversation with William, even after years of discoveries – of things William seemed to have taken for granted – this had been a strong belief.

It had helped him to organize his world. Organization and control had always been necessary to survive in this strange world full of mysteries and things he didn’t understand. If this justification would crumble now… what would be left.

The answer to this was surprisingly simple and soothing, and the next sob followed without restrains.

What would be left… was William.

“Was it so horrible what you saw?”

"I’d do the same, Devon. Any fuckin’ day. I’d rip him open with my bare hands. He’s lucky I never met him.”

The words were harsh, but his tone wasn’t - soft and soothing, quiet and warm as he could as he held Devon close to his heart, stroking gentle fingers through his Director’s silky hair.

"No one hurts you. No one treats you like that. No one. I don’t care who they are. It was… wrong. Every minute of it. That’s not how you raise a child."

William pauses, seeing again the images on the screen, the helpless child’s quiet voice lost in the interrogation. A voice that sobbed against his chest now, as if he’d never learnt how, as if he’d never known that he could. Just another thing that made William’s heart break.

"Yeah, it was. You were so… so innocent, Devon. He took it all away from you. You never got to be a kid. You were a lab rat." He struggled, trying desperately to find the right words, to say what he meant, what he felt. "A… a machine, a tool. He didn’t care. He forced you into all that and just… God, Devon. It was all so fucking wrong.”

brentchua:

arthur d @ img

editorial coming soon!!!

day 2

charles-lloyd-devon:

william-ashford:

He smiled softly at the little slew of questions, awkward as they were. It was a good start, and it was exactly what he’d hoped for, anyway.

"Well… as for the sitting… Same as yesterday, sir. But I’ll take that as an invitation." Smiling, he sat down across the little table, and pulled out the other half of the meal - his half. He wasn’t actually all that hungry at the moment, but yesterday, Devon had been suspicious. He’d asked the bodyguard to try his food first, and William had a good idea of why. So he’d brought his own along, just for that reason. 

"I brought one for me too, yeah. If you don’t mind, of course."

He laid out the meal exactly the same way, showing that he’d given them both the same food, and if Devon wanted to, he could just as easily ask for William’s plate.

"So.. generally… you eat this with your hands too. Fries you could easily do with a fork, but… the burger you tend to pick up with your hands like any sandwich.” He pauses, wondering idly if Devon even knows what a sandwich actually is, and wondering if maybe telling the story of the sandwich’s creation would make any impact on why it’s meant so specifically as finger food. He had a feeling that reasoning for something like this would be quite relevant, and filed it away for later, just in case.

"Ketchup’s the red sauce. It’s made from tomatoes and it’s like… a flavor enhancer, I guess. Mayo, too. It’s just a sauce. Most people like to dip their fries in the ketchup before eating them."

He demonstrated with a fry, popping a small one in his mouth with a bit of ketchup. After swallowing it, he eyed the neglected container, hesitating and offering an apologetic grin.

"I have to admit, none of this is… exactly healthy. It’s not something I’d recommend eating every day. But… Food can taste good and still be good for you, too, nutrients and all. You don’t have to eat like that.”

“Oh…”

The boy watched in awe and curiosity, the impatience just as obvious as his hesitation. Food that was meant to be eaten with bare hands was… still a challenge. It sounded a little disgusting, but thrilling and dangerous and the same time.

“I should… wash and… disinfect my… hands.”

He stood before he could get an answer, moving to the sink in the small pantry of the office. He didn’t like to eat here, at all. Not usually. Not normally. But his world was turned upside down and he didn’t wonder anymore why he suddenly so much as considered the things he did.

Under almost boiling water, he washed his hands until they were red, pulling out the little flask of hand sanitizer he always kept around. The pockets in his jacket had proven to be very useful today already.

He sat down again hesitantly again, not at all sure that the surface of the small table, used by so many, was actually not contaminated, but the excitement and curiosity won over doubt and paranoia rather quickly.

“Is… all of your food like this? Supposed to be eaten with… bare hands. This sounds rather unsanitary…”

Carefully, he picked up the fork anyway – for now, at least, but prepared and determined to try the burger with his hands – picking up a fry and dipping it into the red sauce like Ashford had demonstrated.

A little tilt of his head as he lifted it in front of his nose, eyeing the fry curiously and hungrily. A little sniff at it, too, before he took it into his mouth, his eyes widening almost immediately in wonder and surprise and delight.

It was… crunchy. Crunchy and soft inside. Both at the same time. And salty, again. A flavour like none he had tasted before. The red sauce was… sour, but only slightly. A certain sweetness lingered on his tongue, as well. All of it was overwhelming and perfect.

“Oh. This… is… good. I like it. I like your… red sauce. It is… so… different. I like… the textures. Oh… this is… good.”

He felt like he was talking more during those two days than he’d had in the past two years – and maybe, that was close to being accurate, anyway – and it was strange and unfamiliar… but he didn’t really mind.

He was almost disappointed to hear about the Sergeant’s recommendation.

“Oh… It is… unhealthy?”

Eyeing the plastic container again, wondering if he was making a mistake, if he should continue following through his diet. But the fry had been so delicious and exciting. Just as the pizza. And something told him that the burger would probably be worth a try as well.

Maybe it was just him. Maybe something was wrong with his taste buds or his perception. Or maybe Ashford was right. It was all very confusing.

“Do you… want to try mine?”

This, too, was unheard of. Devon had never offered his food to anyone.

He didn’t let people in his apartment. He didn’t do small talk. Nor did he give away his clothes. He didn’t smile. He didn’t try new things.

He didn’t like people.

So why did he like this one?

The young Sergeant watched with a fascination almost as obvious and deep as the young scientist’s, smiling softly as the boy sniffed and nibbled at the food so curiously and eagerly.

"Well, no, definitely not. Most food you still eat with cutlery, don’t worry. Just… a few things are finger foods."

He’s a little worried for a moment that the boy would refuse to keep eating when he’d heard that it was unhealthy, but his face said otherwise, so William breathed a little sigh of relief.

"It’s not horrible for you, at least. And it’s totally fine if it’s only once in a while. Besides, you need the carbs." He hesitates, eyeing Devon a little carefully. "And to be honest, you could probably do with a little more of it, get some meat on your bones."

The offer was… completely unexpected. 

For anyone else, it might’ve been totally normal. But even after only a day with this boy, William knew this was absolutely unheard of. Both from his own experience and inferences, and from the endless reports and videos he’d been shown to give him an idea of what he’d been getting into when he’d accepted this job.

Devon barely acknowledged anyone else - ever - and to offer food was… well. This may as well have been a first.

And despite the fact that the food looked entirely unappetizing, William didn’t want to outright turn it down. Not when this was such a good sign.

"You’re sure? I mean… if you don’t like your burger, I wouldn’t want to take your food from you. You should eat something. But… you know… I could always try it and see what I could do to make your stuff taste better, too… If you’d want that one of these days. I can cook pretty well.”

discovery at EQ2

charles-lloyd-devon:

william-ashford:

"No, I’m fine. Devon…"

He almost pushed the hand away, not giving a shit at all about the meaningless minor injuries that the man was so fixated on, but he didn’t. The touch was soothing, anyway, relaxing him again, despite the tears.

But only for a moment. 

There were more tears now, other tears, more important and dangerous tears. Tears that William would burn the world down for, just to stop them coming.

"Don’t cry. Please don’t cry."

Finally, he did drop his bags, letting them fall to the floor and slip off his arms in a split moment, both his hands finding Devon’s delicate face, cupping it gently.

"Please don’t."

are you not proud of me?

"What?"

Again, he was speechless, his heart freezing over again and threatening to shatter into a million pieces at the look on his love’s face, at the implication of what this meant. Of just how fucked up they’d made him, thinking that he was the one at fault here.

"I swear to God, Devon, no. You didn’t do anything wrong." His voice shook, again, but this time, it was with anger building, threatening to spill, making his eyes go dark and his hands tremble even as they held their treasure ever so gently.

"You know what I’m proud of? I’m proud that you killed him. Cause if he weren’t dead right now I’d have hunted him down and ripped him apart.”

No, you are not fine. You are crying. You are hurt.

But he didn’t say it - couldn’t say it – with the tight, hot, knot in his throat and his trembling lips. He didn’t even know what hurt more – William’s tears or the injuries on his beautiful face or the sharp, stinging memories that threatened to break through their prison of concrete, through the walls he’d built around them from a very early age.

They’d been unapproachable, most of the time. Faint and distant and caged away, where they could do no harm. And whenever Devon had looked back, it had been like he would’ve watched a dangerous animal in a cage from a safe, comforting distance.

There were no dangerous animals left. Not many, at least.

And that cage a lonely boy had built around his memories was made of denial and justifications.

William’s tears were painful and confusing. He still didn’t really understand what caused them or why his future husband was so… agitated. It didn’t make sense.

It was so good he was here, though, good he was back. It felt better now without the bags and with a little room to catch his breath, without stretching and remaining in uncomfortable positions – but a part of the Director even missed the embrace. A part of him wanted to kiss away those tears.

But he couldn’t move, couldn’t act.

Especially not after William’s last words, spoken so harshly and sharply that they made Devon flinch and blink. After that, he was petrified and speechless for a long moment. The tears kept streaming down his face, just as William’s did, almost as if they flowed from the same source.

His voice broke as he tried to talk again.

“Are you? R-really? Why?”

A part of him didn’t like being reminded of what, if he looked at it rationally, could only be classified as murder. He still considered himself a doctor. He had sworn the Hippocratic Oath, ages ago, in a different life. And that’s what he liked to see in himself. Sometimes, he had helped, had rushed the inevitable, to reach his goals and eliminate dangers and barriers and unpleasant people.

But with his father, it had been… personal.

William had shown his approval before, of course. For reasons Devon still didn’t understand fully. He’d been surprised, at first, but calmed quickly. William was the moral instance here. He had kept him from executing his more… radical plans. He had spoken up for morality and ethics and religion as long as Devon knew him. He had convinced him to refrain from forbidding the churches. He had kept him from genetic manipulation of his dogs and soldiers. He had worded doubts about mass executions.

If William approved… it must be right.

But why would he say things like that? Why would he rip Henry Devon apart if he had the chance? He hadn’t even known him.

“Why… would you?”

Clearing his throat, the old justifications ran from his tongue again, easily and fluidly, like a mantra he’d knew better than his name.

“He was… responsible. The tests were necessary. It was only logical. I am… unique. He did what a scientist had to do. And it was… necessary.”

His voice cracked again.

“I simply… wanted… control over my life.”

Both hands tightened their grip only marginally as a shiver ran through his body, threatening to release a sob.

“I am… glad I didn’t do anything wrong.”

"You didn’t, Devon. You didn’t do a damn thing wrong.”

Devon’s words made his blood boil and his heart break. It was obvious, so fucking obvious, that the man still believed what he was saying. Those words weren’t just ingrained. He really hadn’t believed in anything else.

That much, William had already known, from the day they met. Henry Devon had done his work well, after all. He’d left his mark.

"Charles…"

His voice cracked as this time, with the name, he thought of their son, the golden child that they both already poured their heart into before he’d even arrived. 

For now, he pushed the thought aside. This was far more immediate. 

"You took control. You needed it. That was necessary. I promise there’s nothing wrong with that. I’d have done it, too.”

There was, and he knew it - whatever Henry had done, this was still murder they were talking about - but honestly, he didn’t care. He might not have even done the same - he’d been in a bad enough situation of his own, and done nothing - but it was enough, for now, for this, to say so. For Devon, he’d have done it. And he would now, if by some chance the bastard was still alive out there. He would have found him and taught him a lesson or two of his own.

The General would support that decision til the day he died.

For now, he swiped his thumb over the tears on Devon’s cheeks, pulling him close again and pressing the man’s ear to his chest, hoping that this - like it had some other times before - would help soothe him.

day 2

charles-lloyd-devon:

william-ashford:

At the boy’s admission, he nodded and went for plates and silverware, washing them just as he had done with the glass. If it were him of course, he wouldn’t really have bothered - but he adapted quickly. All it took was paying a bit of attention. He laid the still-warm plate in front of the boy and took the food out, opening it up and laying it out so Devon could get a good look at it. And while he did, he explained.

A lot of questions, a lot of really, really obvious confusion. His stomach twisted a bit, but he kept the smile up easily.

"Why shouldn’t I do it? You’ve got to eat, sir. Might as well get something that you might actually like.”

He eyed the plastic container that had been pushed almost to the very edge of the table with a bit of a frown. 

"I’m guessing that stuff tastes as bad as it looks, huh?"

With another smile, he slides the plate in front of the boy. “Nothing like a burger, I promise. So this is… a meat patty, basically. Ground beef and it’s seasoned up and grilled, on a bun. Melted cheese. Bit of lettuce and tomato, um… ketchup, and a little mayonnaise. And these are french fries. Basically they’re… deep fried potato. And this is ketchup for the fries, too.” 

Just like the previous evening, he didn’t sit without permission, but stood beside the table, quite comfortable anyway, his hands at his sides, relaxed.

The boy was… fascinated. There was no other word for it. And that was just… fucking sad.

But also really, really nice that somehow, William was getting to see this. It was obviously a rare sight and he didn’t pass up the opportunity to watch closely, try to read Devon’s face, start to learn his unique means of expression. He had the feeling he’d need that kind of information often, and no one else had bothered something so… basic.

He wouldn’t be seeing this at all, if they had.

There was still more to say - more to explain; Devon already looked like he was trying to figure out just how to eat this - but for now, William chose to slip back into silence and let him process the slew of information and let him ask the questions he needed answers to.

He still stared openmouthed and confused, slowly tempted by the scent and the enticing new experience. The caution and fear was buried deep, though. People were never just kind to him. They always wanted something. Whether it was to humiliate him, to extract information or just befriend and manipulate a genius.

Everyone, always, wanted something from him.

But this one… seemed… so different.

Almost… trustworthy, if Devon believed in trust.

He didn’t.

But then… he hadn’t believed in kindness either.

He watched and observed with wide eyes and his mouth open, clearly tempted and curious. Again, he was speechless facing the man’s behaviour. He’d washed the plate and the cutlery. Just as Devon liked it. It was still not perfectly sanitary and he would’ve preferred to do it himself, but this was good enough for now, with his curiosity so overwhelmingly strong. He didn’t want any delay.

The comment about the food in the container surprised him, caught his attention.

“Well, it provides the nutrition a healthy body and mind need.”

It was learnt by heart. Heard and repeated countless times. By his father and later, by himself. There had never been any doubt about it.

He tilted his head as he thought and looked, daring rebellious thoughts.

“But… I think… compared to your pizza… it does not… taste… at all. It is… not… bad. It is just… “

Trying to think of words to describe, to compare or categorize food was tiring and useless. A waste of time, especially when new food was here. So close and delicious. He had no idea what Ashford was talking about most of the time, but it smelled so good and he already wanted to reach out to try it.

And suddenly, the Sergeant stopped talking. It was disturbing, somehow. As much as the boy enjoyed his silence any other day, as much as he was bothered by the other uniforms’ talking, he found that he liked it when this particular one was talking. It was either useful information or words that… felt nice and good. He liked the way the man was talking. He didn’t want him to stop. This was not a silence he liked, to his own surprise.

The worst thing was, he had no idea how to break it. It had always been hard to talk. But usually, there had been no need, no real reason or occasion for it.

“Why… did you stop? What is… ketchup? And… mayonnaise?”

Tilting his head, his mouth watered again. Another new sensation to savour. He’d read about it, of course. He knew about this mechanism but had experienced it rarely in his life. And certainly not like that.

He almost forgot how much he’d wanted to impress with his jacket and shirt.

“And… how does one… eat this? Do you have one for yourself? Why are you not sitting down?”

He smiled softly at the little slew of questions, awkward as they were. It was a good start, and it was exactly what he’d hoped for, anyway.

"Well… as for the sitting… Same as yesterday, sir. But I’ll take that as an invitation." Smiling, he sat down across the little table, and pulled out the other half of the meal - his half. He wasn’t actually all that hungry at the moment, but yesterday, Devon had been suspicious. He’d asked the bodyguard to try his food first, and William had a good idea of why. So he’d brought his own along, just for that reason. 

"I brought one for me too, yeah. If you don’t mind, of course."

He laid out the meal exactly the same way, showing that he’d given them both the same food, and if Devon wanted to, he could just as easily ask for William’s plate.

"So.. generally… you eat this with your hands too. Fries you could easily do with a fork, but… the burger you tend to pick up with your hands like any sandwich.” He pauses, wondering idly if Devon even knows what a sandwich actually is, and wondering if maybe telling the story of the sandwich’s creation would make any impact on why it’s meant so specifically as finger food. He had a feeling that reasoning for something like this would be quite relevant, and filed it away for later, just in case.

"Ketchup’s the red sauce. It’s made from tomatoes and it’s like… a flavor enhancer, I guess. Mayo, too. It’s just a sauce. Most people like to dip their fries in the ketchup before eating them."

He demonstrated with a fry, popping a small one in his mouth with a bit of ketchup. After swallowing it, he eyed the neglected container, hesitating and offering an apologetic grin.

"I have to admit, none of this is… exactly healthy. It’s not something I’d recommend eating every day. But… Food can taste good and still be good for you, too, nutrients and all. You don’t have to eat like that.”