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Title: The Whole Truth
Prompt: Taken and Comforting
Bonus? Yup
Word Count: 2909 (haha, this is totes a "quick fic")
Rating: PG-13 for f-bombs and stuff in the warning
Original/Fandom: Original (Cliffton)
Pairings (if any) They still aren't a pairing
Warnings (Non-Con/Dub-Con etc): Reference to character death? I suck at these.
Summary: Wes finally gets serious.

For those of you who care about context, it might be good to read Whatever Makes You Happy before this one, but you don't have to. That one's short, though. And the timeline for this story spans like 6 months, so there's overlap with some of the other stories but I don't think you have to read them to get it? Eh, I don't know anymore. This ate my brain and got way longer than I expected it to. Ouch.

When I hear the front door creak open, I'm excited. Devin's home!

I've gotten used to being on my own more while he's at work. Not that I'm alone - Kalen and CallaBot and Brendan are here, too. Kalen and I play SimFighting and sometimes I help him build robots. SimFighting with Kalen is fun, because sometimes I actually win! That never happens when I play with Devin.

No matter what my day is like, though, I'm always happy when Devin gets home. Too bad he's not happy.

Devin's shoulders are slumped as I take his lab coat and hang it up. Something's wrong - something has been for a week or two, but I'm the only one who seems to notice. He beats me at SimFighting just like always. He makes the same wisecracks, mocks me for being a spaz, mocks Brendan for - well, for being Brendan.

Still, I see the way he pushes his food around his plate at dinner. The way he jumps just a tiny bit when Brendan sits down at the table. Devin's eyes never leave him. The smartass remarks never stop coming, and his cocky grin never falters, but Devin never stops watching him. Not ever.

"You okay, dude?" I ask him now, scooting over on the couch and handing him a SimFighting headset.

"Yeah." Devin sits down and rests the headset on his lap, unbraiding his hair and brushing it out. He's so pretty it takes my breath away. "Just fucking work, man. Fucking brutal."

I don't say a word as I fire up the game. He'll tell me when he's ready. I've died four times before he says another word.

"You know that deprogramming thing you found in your research?" Devin's voice is too casual.

"Yeah, dude," I say as I die for the fifth time.

"Kalen wants me to try it. For Brendan." Devin's jaw tightens as he says Brendan's name.

"You gonna do it?" This is a terrible idea. Why'd I even tell them about the deprogramming at all? I should've known.

Devin shrugs. "I'm the best person for the job."

"Um, dude?" I can't keep quiet anymore. "Are you forgetting he tried to kill you?"

"Whatever." Devin snorts. "That's all in the fucking past. I'm over it. I'll be fine."

I know better than to push, but I wonder who he's trying to convince - him or me.

* * * * *

"It's called Project XpandYourMind," Devin's using that tone that means he's barely keeping his anger in check.

I watch him with concern. He looks so pale and tired and small. It's like someone took a MegaScooper and scooped out his insides, everything that makes him Devin. It kinda hurts to look at him, but I can't stop.

He's working too hard, but it's not just that. Devin hasn't been the same since he and Brendan came out of that room.

"The government plans to use a special neurovision frequency to beam propaganda to civilians' minds. Support the fucking War. Keep an eye out for fucking traitors. Bunch of fucking bullshit. We've gotta steal it. Just imagine the fucking possibilities." Devin's face is alight with passion now. For a moment, he's the Devin I used to know. Then he's gone again.

"Can we do that?" Kalen asks. "I'm all for it, but how?"

"I'll hack into the security system at WeaponsDev," Devin explains, "Set up my own fucking cameras. It's not my project so I have to be careful. For now, I just monitor the progress. Watch and fucking wait."

"Sounds good to me," Kalen says. "All in favor, raise your hands."

My hand wavers, doesn't want to go up. Devin doesn't need to take on any more work. He doesn't need any more pressure. I can tell he's barely making it through as it is. But I know I can't say anything - not in front of the others.

The meeting isn't over, but I don't hear another word after that. I'm too occupied by my own thoughts and the sick feeling in my stomach. I have to say something, even though Devin won't listen. There was a time when he might have, but he was different then. Sometimes I'm not even sure who this person is that's here in his place.

Too bad that hasn't made me love him any less.

When the meeting ends, I stay behind. Devin's pushing all the chairs in, not looking at me. He jumps when I lay my hand on his arm.

"Sorry, dude," I say. "I didn't mean to scare you."

"I'm not fucking scared," Devin fixes me with his best death-glare. "Got a lot on my mind. Fucking work, man."

"Yeah, dude, about that..." I take a deep breath and square my shoulders. "Are you sure it's a good idea to take on another project right now?"

"Yeah," he mumbles, not meeting my eyes. "Why the fuck wouldn't it be? This is why I'm at fucking WeaponsDev."

"It's just... you seem so stressed out all the time now." I say. "Maybe it'd be better to take things slower."

"I'm fucking fine, Wes," Devin turns and stomps toward the door.

Before I know what I'm doing, I reach out and grab his arm roughly. His eyes go wide, like I've slapped him.

"Devin, can you just be real for a minute here?" I hate how weak and quavery I sound. "This is me you're talking to. You're not fine. You're barely holding it together. Please don't do this. Please just stop pushing yourself so hard."

"Why the fuck do you even care what I do to myself?" Devin's voice cracks as he jerks his arm away.

"Because I - " I bite back the words I really want to say. "Why do you even have to ask that?"

I don't even bother trying to hide my tears as Devin pushes past me and slams the door behind him.

* * * * *

Today's a big day, and everyone's busy. Brendan's downstairs, getting ready for his raid on the WeaponsDev building. Kalen's updating CallaBot's neural net in preparation for the mission. Devin's going over the plans one last time.

Then there's me, sitting on the couch by myself - the only one without something important to do.

In almost five years, I never noticed how big and empty this house could feel. Devin and I haven't really talked since that day after the meeting. I tried a few times, but he just brushed me off. The Devin I know would've apologized by now, wouldn't have been able to stand it. But my Devin is gone. Maybe he's never gonna come back.

Whatever Devin's going through, I don't want him to think he's alone. So I keep on making his SynthBrew and packing his lunches and hoping he'll come around. The lunches keep disappearing. I wonder if he misses me when he eats them.

Now he flops down beside me and asks, "Hey man, you up for some SimFighting?"

I do my best to smile as I put on my headset. At first all I can't focus on anything except that he's finally sitting here next to me again. After a few matches, though, I start to feel a grin spreading across my face. I look at Devin and he's smiling too. How I've missed that smile of his.

"What the hell? How did you even do that?" I laugh as my SimFighter blows up for the millionth time.

"The fact that you suck at this game helps a lot." Devin shoots me a glance that's almost shy as he takes off his headset and goes to help Kalen with his work. I watch him as he walks away, feeling happier than I have in weeks.

For a few minutes, everything feels like it's supposed to. Devin explains the translator nanochip Kalen's installed in CallaBot's neural interface. I can't stop myself from bringing up the NebulaQuest episode where the translators fail because everyone speaks in metaphors. It feels right. We feel right.

"Yeah, except that would never happen in real life." Devin's grinning now. "Because it's fucking stupid."

"Well, if it's so 'fucking stupid', then how come it's consistently named one of the top 10 NebulaQuest episodes of all time?" I love this argument - it feels like home.

"You guys are like an old married couple," Kalen says.

All the air goes out of the room and tears spring to my eyes. Devin looks away.

When Brendan waddles stiffly up from the basement, it's almost a relief. The attention's on him and no one sees the way I'm struggling to keep my composure. Devin turns to Brendan, who's complaining the explosive suit is too tight. Devin's still so pretty it makes me ache.

"Maybe you shouldn't have waited until the last minute to try it on." Devin raises one eyebrow at Brendan, who's still grumbling about the suit. I don't hear the rest of Devin's words because there's something in his tone that makes my breath catch in my throat. Something I can't quite put my finger on.

"Condescending asshole," Brendan mutters, but he's hiding a smile.

"You might want to stop calling me names, you lunkhead, or I'm gonna turn these pants into a tutu." This is the Devin I remember, but this is how he talks to me, not Brendan.

My stomach knots up as the understanding sinks in. They're friends now.

I've never felt so small and ugly inside. I should be happy Devin's okay, that he's found some peace. Instead, all I can think about is why he couldn't come to me. How he used to be my best friend and now he's not. How I never told him I wished he were more.

And then another realization hits. What's gonna happen to Devin if Brendan doesn't survive this mission?

* * * * *

There's smoke pouring out of the kitchen and that's not a good sign. The fact that Devin's in there probably isn't, either.

It's been three days since Brendan died. Kalen's locked himself in his room and won't come out. I had to repair CallaBot's fried circuits all by myself because there was no one to help me. Devin just sat there and stared into nothing the whole time, eyes every bit as wide and blank as CallaBot's. Too bad my laserdrill isn't gonna be enough to fix him, too.

I know he thinks what happened to Brendan is his fault, but he won't talk to me. He won't really talk at all, or eat or sleep either. At this point, Devin doing anything at all should be a positive, even though it's the first time he's tried to cook in the five years I've lived with him.

Only it's hard to see past the noxious fumes billowing through the house. I should probably do something about those.

I jump up and run for the kitchen. Devin's just standing in front of the stove, gazing blankly at a flaming pan. His eyes are streaming, either from the smoke or from something else. And that's really not a question I need to focus on right now when there's more pressing business at hand.

"Dude, let me help you," I choke out as I shoulder him aside.

Devin doesn't put up a fight at all, just watches me as I turn off the stove and clean up the mess he's made. I can't even tell what he was trying to cook, because what's left of it is unrecognizable.

So is what's left of Devin. I don't even know this silent, fragile person. And even now, he's still beautiful to me.

"What were you even trying to do?" I don't really expect an answer, not anymore.

"I wanted to make something for Kalen." Devin sits down on the floor, hides his face and mumbles into his hands. "Wanted him to know he wasn't fucking alone."

There's a tiny mean part of me that clenches up as I wonder why I'm the only one who has to feel alone.

"Dude, how can you be a technical genius and not know how to work a Foodinator?" I sit down beside him, resisting the urge to grab his chin and make him look at me. "It does everything for you, and you never have to touch the stove at all. It'd probably be better for all of us if you didn't touch the stove at all anymore."

"Show me?" Devin puts his hand on my arm and I feel it shaking. "Please?"

"I will, dude." I stand up, offer him my hand. "But promise me you'll get some sleep first, okay?"

Devin nods, lets me help him to his feet without ever once meeting my eyes.

* * * * *

I follow Devin to his room, just to make sure he really goes. He doesn't look at me, not as we walk down the hall in silence, and not as I pull down the covers of his bed and motion for him to lie down. He sits instead, taking down his hair and brushing it out, letting it fall between us so he can keep avoiding my eyes.

And I don't know what happens then, but something snaps inside me and the words start pouring out.

"Will you stop trying to fucking hide from me, Devin?" For once, my voice doesn't betray me. It's forceful and angry and I should feel bad but I don't. "You're not the only one that's hurting here, and I can't fucking take this anymore."

Devin's looking at me now, his eyes huge.

I love him so much it gives me chills, but maybe that's not enough. I turn and head for the door.

"Wes." Devin whispers. "Don't go. Please."

All my resolve shatters and I turn to face him. That's when I see the vidframe sitting on Devin's bedside table.

I pick it up - it's me and Devin a year ago at the Reaping Festival. Back when he'd wear a stupid hat with fruit on it just to make me smile. Before everything changed. We're dressed in these silly swordsmaster costumes, mine black and his white. Our arms are around each other's shoulders and we're both grinning so hard our faces could split.

I can't remember the last time I saw Devin that happy. Or the last time I was that happy, either.

"This was us, Devin." I hand him the vidframe, not even trying to fight the tears. "What happened?"

Devin looks down at the vidframe, his own tears dripping onto its surface.

I feel like a monster just watching him cry. Too bad there isn't much else to look at - no pictures on the walls, no curtains or decorations. No furnishings at all besides a bed and a lamp on a tiny little table. Devin's always kept his room like that. I asked him why once, and he just shrugged and said "less fucking packing when it's time to go".

Yet he still keeps an image of us together on the table by his bed.

Once, that would have been the only answer I needed, but nothing's the same anymore. I sit down and wrap my arm loosely around Devin, half-expecting him to pull away. I feel him tense for just a moment before he lays his head against my shoulder. We sit there in silence, shedding tears for the life we'll never have now.

"Remember when we rode the XciteCoaster at the Festival?" Devin finally mutters into the soaked arm of my shirt.

"Yeah." I can't help smiling a little at the memory. "I kept freaking out and grabbing your arm."

"It's just so hard to fucking believe," Devin's breath hitches. "A year ago, that's all we had to be scared of."

Devin never admits to being afraid of anything. I don't know who this person is, but I kinda want to hug him.

"What're you scared of, Devin?" I feel the shudder run through his whole body.

"Nothing. Everything. I don't know anymore," he says. "All I know is I can't fucking lose you, Wes. It'd destroy me."

My other arm can't help snaking its way around Devin, and I can't stop myself from hugging him tight. Still, part of me can't help wondering when it'll ever be about what I need.

"I was supposed to fucking protect you," Devin mumbles, like he's read my mind. "I don't know how I fucked everything up so bad. I'm so sorry. I don't deserve you as a friend and we both fucking know it."

I want to tell him it's okay, but it kinda isn't. And I want to tell him I love him, but he's gotta love himself first. So in the end, I just keep quiet and hold him a while longer, wishing things could be different.

"Devin," I finally say, "You should really get some rest."

"Can you - " Devin's voice is tiny, almost childlike. "Can you stay until I fall asleep? I don't wanna be alone right now."

"Yeah, I'll stay," I murmur into his hair as my heart breaks. "And you're never alone. Not ever."

Only that's not the whole truth, and I've gotta say the rest now while I can, while Devin might listen.

"But it's still not okay, Devin." My voice is small but it doesn't shake. "And I don't know when it will be."

Date: 2012-10-02 01:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] alien-writings.livejournal.com
While this was nowhere near quick, it was definitely worth the read. I've written a fair amount of not-so-quick fics myself, haha. I hope you get lots of views on this story, because the feeeeeeeelings. This was so sad, and it was well-done. Awww, Wes and Devin, just awww. My brain seems less capable of words and more just capable of incoherent feeling-noises right now.

Good job!

Date: 2012-10-02 02:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] n3m3sis43.livejournal.com
Haha, well the amount of time I wrote it in was fairly quick (for me, at least) since the first 2300 words or so were written in a few hours?

Thanks so much. I hope people read it too, because now I have all these feels and I don't know what to do with them. I guess Devin is not the only one who does not like to feel his feelings - but these aren't even really MINE! Haha.

Incoherent feeling-noises, aww. <3

Date: 2012-10-02 01:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] theun4givables.livejournal.com
*rolling in a bed of feels*

Okay. I know I asked to see this a million times. I know I told you that this piece fucking breaks my heart for Wes and that I am like a lump of emotion because of it. But I'm going to say it all fucking again because fuck this piece really hits home with me. I love it. I think it really shows that Wes isn't just a goofball all the time. It shows a whole other side of him that I think the readers really, really need to see.

His love and heartbreak over Devin just feels right. This whole piece you just realize how much he really wishes they could have been more. And maybe, if life hadn't gotten so crazy on them, I think that Devin would have managed to actually love himself and let himself be with Wes. But with everything that's happened -- him just admitting how lost he'd be without Wes -- while it's not enough for Wes now, it's the best Devin can offer him.

And that's really, horribly depressing and states so much for both of their characters, and how much they've both changed. Wes is perfectly within his rights to be angry. He's allowed to be upset and he's allowed to fucking call Devin out on his shit. That last section shows that he does, indeed, have a spine. That he DOES know just how much of an ass Devin is, and how despite all that, he can't fucking stop loving Devin.

Which really, as much as part of me would love to see Wes move on and find someone who would truly appreciate him and show that, I also really, really want Devin to get his shit together and finally fucking face the fact that he, too, has feelings for Wes and that he needs Wes as much, if not more, than Wes fucking needs him.

Fuck I think I'm done now.

Date: 2012-10-02 02:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] n3m3sis43.livejournal.com
OMG, I love this comment so hard. <3

You know, writing this broke my heart for Wes all the way until the end and then I had such mixed feelings. Because Wes definitely deserved to stand up for himself and to be mad and OMG how did he even put up with Devin's bullshit for so long? But at the end I felt for Devin a lot because I think pretty much up until that section any one of the honest things he said/did would have been enough for Wes but by the time he said/did them, nothing was anymore. And even though he's an ass the whole time, that just made me sad.

Also, you know this but it took me all the way until the last section to figure out that Wes would actually reach his breaking point and that really fucked with my heart, too. These guys come from inside me so you'd think they wouldn't surprise me so often, right? Ouch.

I do agree with you that in a different life (where all the crazy stuff after Kalen's bomb never happened), they could have been together. That's how it felt when I wrote "Whatever Makes You Happy" and that's why writing it made me sad.

Note to self: find therapist. Characters making me feel too many feels.

Thanks again, for reading and caring and your insight when I got stuck. :D

Date: 2012-10-02 03:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] theun4givables.livejournal.com
lol I could see why writing "Whatever Makes You Happy" made you sad, because I felt the same way while reading it. They were already so close and Devin just obviously adored Wes just the same, even if he's not as emotionally honest as Wes is.

I felt the same way -- that my heart kept breaking for Wes because he just loves Devin so fucking much -- and really, he shouldn't have put up for it for so long and I had to fucking cheer when you realized he hit a breaking point. Because he NEEDED that. He NEEDED to outright tell Devin his bullshit was enough. That he can't do that anymore and that Devin needs to suck it up and deal with shit instead of deny deny deny.

Really, I know deep down that they probably won't end up together-together but at least Wes knows that Devin truly cares for him. I can live with that.

Date: 2012-10-02 05:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] n3m3sis43.livejournal.com
I honestly have no idea why it took me so long to realize that Wes would have a breaking point. Or, it's not that I didn't realize one existed because everyone has one. I just didn't think we had hit it. Even though what I was writing clearly pointed to him getting closer and closer to it the whole time. So, like, some part of me must have known? But when it got to the point of writing it, I was surprised (which you know).

How does that even happen?

Part of me really hopes they do end up together because I would love to write something like "Whatever Makes You Happy" and have it actually make me feel happy. But I don't really know if they will, and even if I did, I wouldn't tell. ;-)

Date: 2012-10-02 05:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] theun4givables.livejournal.com
Dude I figure things out about Jazz and Savin still and they've been living in my head for years. I don't even know how I don't know everything about them by now. Like Savin's bigotry and him apparently checking out Jordine -- totally and utterly new territory for me. Ugh.

Awww. I know that feel, bro. And goddamn you, I will get you to tell me, damnit. xD

Date: 2012-10-02 05:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] n3m3sis42.livejournal.com
All I will say is there's a better chance of them getting together after having written this story than there was before. Because Wes forced them both to be honest in ways I didn't really expect to happen at this point in the story. We'll see. :D

Date: 2012-10-02 06:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] theun4givables.livejournal.com
This makes me happy in ways you do not know. <3

Date: 2012-10-02 03:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tatdatcm.livejournal.com
I have to admit that I didn't really get on board with shipping Devin and Wes until I read this piece. Wow! The emotion it conveys and the way it builds on itself is just amazing.

I love the way it finishes too. How Wes is honest with Devin and tells him that it's still not okay. Very powerful.

Date: 2012-10-02 03:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] n3m3sis43.livejournal.com
This is pretty much the best compliment you could give me because it broke my heart a little to write this.

I have such mixed feelings about shipping them because Devin is just such an asshole. (Is it even "shipping" when it's your own characters? Ha.) I think up until "Pretty Buttons" he thinks he is worse than he actually is and then things just go off the deep end from there. I have to say that it was pretty gratifying to write Wes being honest like that. Although it also kind of came as a surprise to me up until I was writing that part. Haha, how does this always happen?

Thanks so much for reading. <3


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