Pancakes And Promotions

Participants:

kaylee_icon.gif luther_icon.gif ray_icon.gif

Scene Title Pancakes and Promotions
Synopsis Welcome to the team, Mr. Bellamy.
Date March 22, 2018

The original plan was for Richard Ray to sneak in the back and for David to never be the wiser, distracted by a ‘fake’ call for assistance.

The plan didn’t quite work out that way, but then, no plan ever survives contact with the enemy.

A text message was sent to Kaylee to ask for a pick-up without any need for being covert. After the message is sent, he’s waiting openly in front of David Cardinal’s home, a large cardboard box cradled in his arms laden with strings and papers and clippings. There’s no smile on his face; his gaze is downcast, a frown lingering upon his features, shoulders slumped and attention mostly diverted inward as he waits for his adopted sister like a schoolchild waiting for a bus that knows there’s a test he’s going to fail.

Leaving Luther to fix their car and prepare for the trip home, with little explanation, Kaylee Ray-Sumter had jumped in her brother’s to pick him up. The janitor would probably not be happy that she did that, since she brought him along as back-up; but, she wanted to talk to Richard alone. Luther’s disquiet since their talk was bothering her… and he was wanting more answers then she could give.

Seeing Richard standing there, there is a sinking feeling in the pit of Kaylee’s stomach. It went even worse than she thought, clearly. As the vehicle pulls up alongside the curb, he can see the concern and worry etched in his sister’s features. She waits for him to get into the warm car, blue eyes dropping to the box in his arms. She wants to ask, but… she decides to see if he is going to say anything.

Stepping along up to the passenger side of the car, shoes crunching on gravel, Richard pulls the door open and clambers in — settling down with the box on his lap, he pulls the door closed behind him firmly and reaches for the shoulder-belt.

“Doesn’t matter what the test says,” he reports quietly, “We’ll leave the poor guy alone. He’s been through enough, and no matter what genetics say… he’s not my father.”

Sitting back against the seat with a heavy sigh, both hands still on the wheel. Kaylee looks a little defeated. There is a twinge of guilt for dragging her brother all the way up there, but at the same time, she knows it was the right thing. However, sorry doesn’t seem appropriate. So what can she say in light of that, but..

“Okay,” she agrees softly, focusing on the buildings just beyond Richard. “We’ll leave him alone.” It is obvious that they have been left with more questions than answers. She reaches over and gives his arm a gentle squeeze.

This was only one issue, there were more problems ahead of them… one potential one back at the diner. There is a glance at the box before she starts to turn the car around. Curiosity, gets the better of her and she ask, “What’s in the box?”
“String map,” Richard replies, his head dropping back against the headrest and a sigh whispering past his lips, “Luis has been sending him those packages too. The same ones I’ve been getting. Thought he was doing the man a favor.”

There’s silence for a few moments before he says quietly, “He spent twenty-odd years in a hole - probably Level Five, I can’t be sure - and then people kept harassing him about a son he never had. He and Michelle were never even officially married. Never had a kid.”

“Not,” he tells the roof of the car, “In this timeline, anyway.”

“A string map?” There is curiosity and a touch of amusement at that revelation. “Are you sure your not related?” Of course, as soon as she says that, Kaylee regrets it. “Sorry,” she murmurs softly, sending an apologetic look his way.

“So.. not officially married?” Kaylee asks after a drawn out moment of silence. Yet, he talked of her like it was his wife. “He did say the last time he saw her was only a few days after they got married. I just thought that maybe she didn’t tell him, but the more I thought about it, the times don’t match up.” Brows furrow a little in thought. “Wonder what happened to her.”

“I’ve got no doubts that the genetics will turn up a match, but…” Richard brings a hand up to rub between his eyes, pinching the bridge of his nose briefly, “…that doesn’t mean he’s my father.”

His hand drops down to the edge of the box with a slap of skin on cardboard, and his chin drops as he frowns down at the tangled mess of strings and papers, “The marriage certificate’s in there. Unfiled. They never got to finish the legal end of things, I guess.”

One finger hooks a string of yarn, giving it an idle tug as he replies quietly, “Michelle LeRoux died on June eighteenth, nineteen-eighty-two. Car accident. DOA - they just draped a sheet over her on the ground, there wasn’t even any point to get her to the hospital. She was not pregnant.”

There is a crunch of gravel and a general slowing of the car to a stop. Throwing the car into park, she shifts so she can look at him. “So we have a huge question here.” She looks out at the wooded road around them. “How are you even here?” It’s a frustrating question.

“God, what I wouldn’t give for Hiro or Walter.” That would be too easy… when was life ever easy.

“I’ve got— I’ve got photographs in here that contradict the ones I have, just like the ones that Luis sent me contradict the ones I have,” Richard says in frustrated tones, hands coming up and then dropping back down to the box, “I don’t know, Kaylee. I just— I don’t know how I’m here, or who I am. Or even what timeline I’m from. And it’s not— it’s not just me, Ezekiel was here too, he had the same questions. Me— us— none of us even seem to have an origin in our home lines. It doesn’t make sense!”

Frustrated, he stares down into the box that holds more questions than anything, “I can only assume that Looking Glass worked a hell of a lot better than Michelle expected.”

Suddenly, Kaylee’s own frustrations with her history seemed so petty. Even though there were a lot of questions about her past… so many lies… What he was going through she could not even fathom. Reaching out, fingers brush the hair at the back of is head, before they fall to rest on his back. It was something she often did when the kids were upset. “Your right,” she starts as her hand settles there. “It doesn’t make any sense. We’ll figure this out.”

She wasn’t about to make him do this alone.

A sigh spills from Richard, his eyes closing for a moment. “I figured out who the other pregnant woman was,” he says quietly, “The one from the pictures, the sick one. Juliette Luis. I’m— I think the whole goddamn photo album we found was taken through Looking Glass, or at least large parts of it. It’s why we never found a picture of Warren’s mother, and why you don’t have a different third brother or sister.”

He turns his head a bit to look at Kaylee, grimacing, “Who the fuck even am I, Kay?”

“You’re Richard Ray.”

There is no hesitation in that, the words are spoken firmly. “No we don’t share blood, but, you are my brother… you are my family. More than even my own biological siblings. I think Edward knew that and that’s why he had you bring me the blue box.” Fingers move to grip his shoulder and force him to look at her.

“No you don’t know where you come from, but it doesn’t change who you are. You are still Richard Ray and no answers are going to change how any of us feel about you….or how you should feel about you.” Kaylee sighs and lets her hand slide away. “I know. It sounds rich coming from me… I’ve been there and knowing didn’t change much, but it did give me you, Val and Warren.”

She smiles a little. “You’ll get your answers”, Kaylee points out softly, with confidence.

Richard listens, watching her with dark-shadowed eyes as she speaks, and then he smiles faintly— a hand lifting to catch hers as it slides away, fingers closing over her own in a warm squeeze. "Thank you," he says quietly, glancing to the windshield. "I know we will. I'm not the sort to give up easy."

A breath's drawn in, "So. Luther."

“Yes, Luther…” Kaylee says taking a deep breath with the change of subject. “I admit, it might have not been the best move to bring him with me, but… “ she sighs, putting the vehicle into gear and starting forward again. “I needed someone. I did not realize how little he knew.” She glances at Richard, with a rueful smile.

“That being said… I like him and he deserves a chance to decide if he wants to be involved with the family business.” So to speak. “Good head on his shoulders, smart… I’m betting a background in something military or security based. In fact, it was his idea to go in.”

Kaylee grimaces a bit, “I can’t help, but hear his struggle. It’s a lot with just what I told him.” Kaylee points out, “But, I am hoping he sticks around, but I only think you can give him the answers he wants.”

“I know he was out there, during the war, getting involved,” says Richard with a vague motion of his hand, not towards anywhere in particular, “Luther’s— never been one to ask questions. He’s loyal, but, I should’ve expected that eventually he’d want to know more.”

He gives his sister a wry look, “I just wish we had more answers to give. It’s hard to explain ‘so what we know is that we don’t know enough’.”

There is a slow lift of Kaylee’s shoulders, “All we can do is try to answer his questions the best we can.” She glances at the box. “Show him what we can… and hope for the best.”

Fingers tap lightly on the steering wheel, in thought, “I told him a lot, but… I didn’t tell him one of the biggest reasons we started Raytech.” To help clean up the huge mess their father made trying to keep them all alive and bring them together.

“Pretty sure, that should be one secret we take to our graves,” she says softly.

"Yeah," Richard admits, fingers rubbing at the bridge of his nose, "It's bad enough that we know. That all of that, it was just for us…"

He breathes out a heavy sigh, "I wonder if it was, sometimes. I sometimes think there might be something out there we're not seeing, some greater design, but— that could just be paranoia. Anyway."

A look back to her, a faint smile, "Let's go meet with Luth and see if we can answer his questions."

“You’re a parent now… what would you do for your kids?” Kaylee asks rather pointedly, as if she knows the answer to that. “It could be just that simple.” She gives a huffed chuckle. “But I get the paranoia. Neither of us would be alive without it.”

Even as Richard mentions meeting with Luther, Kaylee can see the car in the distance. No Luther though… “Maybe he’s in the diner… I swear, that man puts away food, like no one I have ever known.”


Nite Owl Diner


The Raytech company car that Kaylee and Luther arrived in sits out in front of the diner, backed in to one of the spaces between a pair of older looking sedans. Visible through one of the windows of the quaint, nostalgia inducing diner sits Luther Bellamy, at present putting a triangular slice cut from a short stack and dripping with syrup and powdered sugar into his mouth. His eyes are directed down to a newspaper — a local one — and for all the world looks like an everyman on an everyday time of his life having a good breakfast.

Because some days, it’s a good day to have breakfast.

The man has picked a window seat for a reason though, and placed himself at such an angle as to expect movement in front of the diner to catch in his peripheral vision. He looks up and focuses on the other vehicle coming, spotting Kaylee and Ray through the layers of glass. Luther lifts his fork in a salute, then sets the utensil down to take a quick sip out of a coffee mug and begin folding the local paper.

By the time the Rays enter the diner, he has the pages folded neatly and set aside, and they can also see a stack of emptied plates off to the side. Kaylee wasn’t wrong. The man eats like he’ll not see food again in a long while.

The box is left in the car. No reason to bring it inside. Richard steps along into the diner, nodding affably to the woman behind the counter as he heads for the booth where Luther’s sitting - making it clear that they don’t need to be seated, they’re with someone, thanks!

“Hey, Luther,” he greets, settling in opposite the other man and offering a weary and half-hearted smile, hands resting on the table and the fingers of his left hand absently rubbing over the black marks that have darkened the right since his resurrection, “How’re the pancakes?”

“Hello again, Luther, I see you got a head start,” is offered pleasantly, as Kaylee scrutinizes the pancakes and the plates next to him. “Those do look good and lord knows, right now I could eat.” The telepath could be a stress eater at times.

“Scoot…” Kaylee tells Richard, shooing him over a little, before dropping down into the bench seat next to him. There she sheds her glove and jacket, leaving it bunched up at her back. “Coffee?” Kaylee asks him before leaning out to catch a servers attention.

The waitress, the same as the night before, shrugs and heads off to the next customer for the time being. Suit - or rather, seat - yourselves.

Luther levers himself up to a stand when the pair approach the booth, expecting to shuffle around. "Hey Boss," he greets Ray with a quick look up and down the other man that determines there's no need for alarm. Little does he know the events of the morning. But that's why he's there, waiting to find out.

He sits back down once Kaylee's sat, sliding back into place in front of his two-thirds gone stack of pancakes. Plus three blueberries. "They are, and you should. There's no place in the Safe Zone that's got a stack like this," he recommends to the woman, "though maybe Yamagato's got 'em. Probably. Hm." It's like it just now occurs to him to think of the park as a place to go for pancakes. Casting a glance between the two adopted siblings, he appears to be assessing once they've settled. "You should, too," he then notes pointedly at Ray sounding a bit chiding, like they both aren't eating enough.

"Car's fixed and gassed up too," he adds after another beat, picking up his knife to slice down into the fluffy pancakes. Let's not stand on ceremony here. The man might have questions too, but he focuses on the food, patiently cutting away, finding a meditative moment in the action.

Scoot, scoot. Richard shifts over to make room for his sister, reaching out to collect one of the menus at Luther’s urging. “Probably,” he admits, “Been a day or so since I ate.”

He was a little preoccupied worrying about things. All his worries were valid.

“Good,” he murmurs, searching the menu, “We should all get out of here and leave that poor bastard alone as soon as we can. He deserves that much.”

“Good.” Kaylee echoes her brother, still waiting impatiently for the waitress. “And I agree, seems like we’ve beaten this horse as much as we can, by the sounds of it. Honestly, I’m ready to just be home,” she grouses a bit, even if it’s only been an overnight trip, she is a mom.

Finally the waitress approaches, receiving a bright smile from Kaylee, “Hello, again. Coffee… And I want what he’s having.” The telepath points at the stack of pancakes. “Richard?” She glances at him to see if he is going to order anything.

“What’d he say to you?” It’s the first of many questions, no doubt, but for now Luther merely peeks into the keyhole of those flood gates. His fork moves to mouth, chomping on a slice of the stack that’s nearly gone.

At the approach of the waitress, Luther merely adds, “Can I also get a hot dog and some fries?” It earns him a look from the waitress, but she shrugs and writes it down with a scribble of her pen on order pad. “Sure hun,” the woman notes. She also gives Kaylee a once over and offers in caution, “Just the short stack, or you want it all?” She sends a pointed nod to the short stack of plates that have accumulated on Luther’s left side, the results of side dishes he’s ordered. And then the waitress slides her gaze over to Richard.

Luther glances over to the pair across from him, brows arching. Maybe he should order it to go.

“Chicken and waffles,” is Richard’s order, “And coffee. Black.” A tired smile’s offered to the waitress, and then he’s looking back across to Luther, shifting his weight to rest on folded arms on the table’s edge, laminated menu beneath them.

“That he’s been through hell,” he says quietly, “Twenty-odd years of his life gone into a hole and nobody said why. His ability ripped from him by a man from the future he thought was his old friend. And forced to relive his fiance’s death over, and over, by people who keep coming here looking for answers.”

He breathes out a sigh, his eyes closing, “I can tell you that the test will probably come back positive, but that’s not my father, despite that.”

The waitress gets a flat look from the telepath. Really? “Just the short stack,” Kaylee at least sounds amused by the question. Once the waitress leaves, she grumbles softly to the men, “Do I look pregnant or something?!”

Resting her arms on the table, she nods slowly. “Which leaves us with more questions than answers.”

Once the food’s ordered, the waitress turns away to send the slip down the line, returning momentary with coffee for the newcomers and a refill on Luther’s. “Thanks Becky,” the man offers to the waitress and she responds with an ‘mmhm’ before heading off to tend the tables.

“She’s nice,” Luther comments, lifting up his refreshed coffee to take a testing sip. Diner coffee, typically with a slight edge of burnt. He reaches for a dose of the creamer at the table, using the moment while he’s opening the packet to ponder over Ray’s words. Kaylee gets a brief, wary glance from him too for her question. “You look like you could use that vanilla shake,” he notes to her. But then he looks back at Ray, at the man’s face, the wearied look.

“If I could ask,” he eyes the pair testingly, “by people, you mean just us? Or, is the guy in trouble?” The man’s come to the short conclusion that David Cardinal, or rather this one, is no longer a threat to their reality. His reality. “And are these people going to come after you?” That part is spoken more seriously, a protective air to it.

"No. No, he's safe, we're safe, the only danger to anyone involved is…" Richard's hand lifts, fingers brushing through the air carelessly before they fall back to his arm, and he offers a half-hearted smile back to Luther, "Emotional, honestly."

He turns his head, looking out the window, "Ezekiel was here, probably earlier the same year he died. And he's been getting the same packages I have. Doctor Luis has been sending them. Nice old man. Knows a lot of secrets. Made a lot of mistakes. In hiding out there somewhere. Apparently doesn't know how to write a god-damn letter, since he's just been sending old articles and photographs."

"Photographs which, I must add," he says dryly, looking back to Luther, "Can both be dated and contradict the hell out of each other."

The comment about the milkshake earns a look of amusement from Kaylee. Her smile pulling a little to one side as she states, “Let me start with the pancakes, then we’ll talk milkshake.” After a thought, she adds, “Maybe.” Even though it does sound awfully good right now.

“I admit, I’m a little anxious to get home and go through all that,” Kaylee directs at her brother. “And I do agree. I mean with leaving him alone. He’ll get the results same as us, if he wants… he can come to you,” she says pointing a finger at her brother. “I feel bad enough about the stress I put him in, but… now we know.” And she knows she’s not crazy.

While Ray looks out the window, Luther looks at him. The half-hearted smile is an unconvincing one. But he listens, taking down the names mentioned into his mind. Ezekiel, that one’s familiar at least in the passing sense. That name he had heard in the skinny brickfront building up until the time the teams left to go stop the supposed alternate version madman hellbent on changing the future, somehow, by messing around in the past.

Popping the last of his pancakes in, Luther chews away at both the physical and metaphysical. “Alright,” he says with a swallow, “but who’s the doctor? What’s he got to do with your fa— your guy.” This is a weird way to refer to people, and it shows as he stumbles in finding the appropriate reference to David Cardinal.

Grey eyes flick over to Kaylee, and brows furrow. “And why’s it all tucked in someone else’s head for you to find like some egg hunt at Easter?”

“Doctor Jean-Martin Luis… the proof that the road to Hell really is paved with good intentions,” Richard replies to the question, one shoulder lifting upwards and holding there for a beat before he lets it fall, “He was a neuroscientist, worked with Suresh. Ended up in the Commonwealth Institute, trying to… do good.”

He glances down to his hands, then back up before he says flatly, “He failed. And he ended up doing a lot of terrible shit instead, like almost everyone who worked for Ezekiel.”

“I tried to recruit him after the Institute fell, to tell him that he still could do good, but… he was too deep in mourning,” he says simply, “Too much guilt, too much blood on his hands. We lost track of him. Until, apparently, he’s been mailing these enigmatic packages out. Why he knows any of this shit, honestly I have no idea. Your guess is as good as mine. I didn’t even know he was involved with this at all until today, honestly.”

Mostly, all Kaylee can do is sit quietly and listen to what the men are saying. Some of what Richard says is new information for her. Her head is tilted towards her brother, though gaze is unfocused and thoughtful.

It isn’t until Luther mentions the message, Kaylee’s eyes come to focus on the man across from her. “It is not the first time, I have found a message in someone’s head.” She looks thoughtful again and there is a soft chuckle. “In fact, if I remember right. That message was the one that told me, that my brother would show up holding a blue box.” A significant looks is levered her brothers way. Funny how subjects come up again…

“Honestly, that one was my father, this message. The one that brought me here was different.” Her attention shifts between the men, “Edwards was a memory… this one…” Brows furrow as she considers, lips pressing tight for a moment before she says, “It… felt more direct. I don’t know how to explain it. It was like… Someone was talking to me and not a relay. If it had been only a memory, Des would have heard it too.” It is clear the telepath is having a hard time explaining what happened.

Finally, Kaylee just shakes her head. “Sounds crazy just saying that outloud.”

“Lotta men have done a lotta bad trying to do a lotta good,” Luther intones with a slow nod for Ray’s summary of Luis’ involvement. “Suresh, as in Chandra Suresh?” The name suddenly clicks, and the weight of Luis grows. But he levels a look at Ray. “You say he worked for Ezekiel, but you don’t know why he knows all of that or how he was involved?” Really. “Maybe the question’s not why him. But why you?”

His gaze flits back to Kaylee, blinking. “You know that’s not the craziest thing, though,” he notes lightly. And once he’s finished his short stack, nods to indicate the return of their waitress with the coffees and food. It’s only after the waitress leaves that he continues the questioning. “You said Ezekiel was dead, right? And now Doc Luis is sending stuff to your… to David. But Ezekiel visited him before that. Why’d he come up here?”

The hard questions are countered with a swipe of a french fry through a small squeeze of ketchup.

“I might need to draw a diagram here,” Richard admits, bringing a hand up to rub between his eyes as he thinks of how to offer some clarity to an issue that is, admittedly, about as murky as mud even to him sometimes.

He closes his eyes to gather his thoughts a moment, then opens them to focus on the man across from him. “Ezekiel’s just what we call him so there’s less confusion, he is— was— Richard Cardinal. Just like me. Just from an incredibly shit-hole timeline. He went back in time, landed in the sixties, started up the Institute. Died. Was brought back in twenty-ten or so, took back over the Institute, went bug-fuck insane and I killed him. The end.”

“I know he was looking into his parents, into the truth of what happened, the same as I am,” he says simply, “He was probably further along; Luis may have recovered some of that information along the way. No idea why he was mailing it to Dave though.”

There is a wrinkle of Kaylee’s nose at Luther’s comment and smirks in amusement, but she knows he isn’t wrong. The waitress is given a soft thank you as Kaylee settles into turning her mug of coffee as light as she can with creamer, but only a touch of sugar. Butter is spread through the stack of pancakes, a light amount of syrup and then she just settles into listening and eating. Thought not before commenting, “Oh my god, these are good.”

At Richard's remark about needing to draw a diagram, Luther smirks from around his hotdog. He takes a smaller bite than usual, the quicker to chew and swallow. "Well we got plenty of napkins here. How many pens do you need? Or we going to need a classroom full of blackboards and chalk?" he says with a glint of wry humor in his eyes.

The teasing relents quickly though, as the other man goes on to describe Ezekiel in short terms. The hot dog gets set down on the plate, and Luther leans in as he listens to the time traveling, the start of the Institute. Death and resurrection. The puzzlement in Luther's face sees no end. It is, after all, like the plot of a movie.

"He already died before, but came back, and you got him again?"

Then it's Luther's turn to rub a couple of non-greasy fingers on his temple. "In Alaska," he seems to recall now. It's been a bit of a decade. Turning to watch Kaylee eat, he takes inward comfort in the simplicity of her comment. They really are that good. He nods knowingly.

Back to Ray, Luther tilts his head as he regards the other man across the table. Lips thin in consideration of all the things that have been revealed thus far. But the question that comes out of him is fairly simple. "What do you want me to do next?" That’s always been Luther’s M.O., weighing his options and finding the path forward. To keep moving and not dwell too far in the past. That’s where the shadows lie.

“Yeah. Samson Grey — you remember our smoky acquaintance, I’m sure,” Richard says dryly, no love lost for the elder Grey, “Got m— got him the first time, back in ‘77. Kept his brain in a jar like a trophy. The Institute recovered it, brought him back through a bunch of Evolved abilities in rapid succession.”

SIlverware unrolled from a napkin, the fork’s edge soon carves off both a piece of waffle and chicken and spears both. “I don’t… I’m not sure where to go from here,” he admits, “I’ve got to go over the materials that Luis was sending here, see what I can follow up on. David didn’t have any answers, Michelle is dead… maybe some of the old Company agents might have some surviving records. I don’t know.”

He looks at the bite of food on his fork, admitting quietly, “I’m sorry you got dragged into this, Luther, this is— I mean, this is personal shit, when it comes right down to it. I don’t have any right to drag more people into it. It’s not like the old days, saving the world, fighting bad guys. This is— I guess it’s purely selfish.”

There is a touch of guilt from Kaylee, her chewing slowing a little, as Richard apologizes. Finally, swallowing the bite of pancake, she gives Luther an apologetic smile, “That’s my fault… I would, normally, just drag along you along,” She glances at Richard, before looking at Luther again. “There are not a lot of people I would trust with this, so… you got swept into this, cause I know you worked with my brother in the past.”

Her smile brightens as she adds, “I admit, it’s been nice to have someone new to talk, too. However, like I said, you at least get a choice in this.” Richard gets a side glance as she adds, “However, I think your help will be appreciated, going forward, if you decide to continue on. We might not have all the answers to all your questions… but… You’ve shown to be trustworthy, at least to me, and we will do our best to keep you in the loop as best we can.”

Only a brief pause in chewing spared for the mention of Samson Grey, this time. But this is Luther being willfully stubborn, treating the name as one might a certain fictitious dark wizard's. But when Ray goes on apologizing, Luther pops the rest of his hot dog (where did that thing disappear to) in mouth and washes the whole thing down with a swig of his coffee. The man takes a long breath, leaning back to watch the pair of Rays partake of their meals like a floor supervisor observing a product line.

Kaylee's note turns his grey eyes her way, and his gaze softens at the sight of her smile, appreciative of the comments the woman makes of his character. It's then Luther who looks out the window of the diner, weighing, thinking. Thoughts of the morning return, of doubts and misgivings and of things past. At a point, his gaze settles on the car parked outside. "That's kind of you, Miss Kaylee," he speaks with a baritone roll of his voice from deep in his throat.

When his gaze returns to the pair, it comes with a decisive sense. "You all seem to be forgettin', though, a pretty important part." The man shifts in his seat to lean forward, finger pointing to them in turn. "You don't need to do this alone. This ain't chess; it's not just you and some shadow player across the board. It's Life. Bunch of us are in it already. And maybe a couple new challengers are just what's needed to shake up the game." The finger curls back to a loose fist, set beside his plate.

"You're the top brass of a corporation, so maybe your hands 're tied up," he muses, "but don't count the rest of us out to help you out." A crooked smile plays at the edge of his mouth. "Against bears, or whatever the heck else comes for you." The man seems to realize shortly after the rousing talk that he may have overstepped, and clears his throat lightly, reaching for his coffee again to examine the liquid left in it. And to maybe wonder if he's had enough of it.

The chicken disappears faster than the waffles from Richard’s plate, but he’s not eating very quickly; despite his evident hunger, he’s taking it slow, forcing himself to take a few beats between bites. An old habit to keep his stomach from getting upset, or his muscles from seizing up at a bad time.

A sip of his drink, and he sets it down, offering a tired but genuine smile across the table. “Thanks, Luther. That— no, I really do appreciate that,” he admits, shaking his head, “I know working for, and with me, isn’t easy sometimes. I’m a fuckin’ bottomless hole of secrets and plans and contingencies, I’m paranoid as shit, I’m terrible at self-care and— well.” He gestures with his fork, “You get the picture.”

“So I appreciate that. You don’t have to help, but you will, and I… really appreciate that kind of loyalty.” A pause, “That kind of friendship, really.”

By time Luther is done speaking is something in between amusement and affection in Kaylee’s smile. That same look is turned to the man sitting next to her, leaning over to nudge his arm with her shoulder. “You pick ‘em good, big brother.” There is a sort of pride in her tone when she talks to him, though it quickly turns to mischief as she adds rather hauntily, “Maybe you should do, my job.” She sends a wink Luther’s way to show that she is joking of course.

A glance goes to the half-eaten stack of pancakes. “Not sure I can eat anymore.” The plate is nudged away and replaced by her mug of almost white coffee. Glancing at both men, Kaylee asks, “Either one of you wanna finish it? Be a shame if it went to waste.”

He does get the picture. Luther evidently has attached himself with some mental carabiners and is spelunking into the bottomless hole of Richard Ray and company. It just so happens he’s bringing his own flashlight, in the form of himself. “Working for you hasn’t been boring, I’ll give you that,” he notes with a smirk. “Besides, I signed myself up for the cleanup job, so maybe this is technically still in my job description.”

Speaking of cleaning up. He reaches down to grab up a few fries and pauses when Kaylee offers up the rest of her plate. The man shoots her a rueful glance, then turns to Ray with a brow arched in question. Is he going to eat it? Because…

Hnngh. “Or, maybe could get it to go,” Luther says after a beat. “We still got a long drive ahead.”

Richard makes a little gesture with his fork, indicating that the man across the table can have it, mildly impressed by his appetite. “We do,” he admits, spearing another bite of pancake, “But speaking of— “

He looks at Kaylee bemusedly, “Why is he still listed as a janitor, little sister?”

“Don’t look at me… you are the one that handed me the paperwork which clearly said janitor.” Kaylee’s chin lifts a little in defiance, as she continues, motioning to the man across from her, “I barely knew the guy, I wasn’t going to argue.”

Eyes narrow at Luther, her head tilting a little to one side, much like she does sometimes when reading minds…. However, at this moment, she is thinking. “I’ll have to go over what we need, but if I remember right, some of your talents lie elsewhere.” A blonde brow tips up a little, curious. Resting an elbow on the table and propping her chin on the palm of her hand, she asks, “So tell me, Mr. Bellamy, why janitorial and not something more suitable?”

“Custodial subcontractor,” Luther corrects, reaching over to do a clean up job… of Kaylee’s half-eaten stack of pancakes. “And your rep was sayin’ it was mainly to go out and help clean up the city. The Jackson Heights building’s just a part of it.” As he’s seemingly re-interviewed, the man sits up straighter for the moment. And a longer beat, he thinks on his own answer and speaks carefully. “You don’t think much of the guys who come in after and have to deal with the muck-ups that go on. Everybody’s got some dirt on the floors, if you know what I mean. I guess it just gives me a sense of… connection? Being able to watch and be ready for anything.”

Like bugging out if he had to, which seems to be a remnant of his past life, stamped into the man’s core instinct of survival.

He sets his knife and fork aside, taking a moment between bites to reflect. “When the bomb hit, I was underground. I was working front desk security, at the time, but there was a package for custodial that I was going to take downstairs, sublevel. And that box saved my life.” Not that his ability hadn’t also kicked in that day, but the man’s recollection focuses on that little detail. He shrugs with a lift of a shoulder, though not the one that recently was shot and subsequently stitched up.

“Guess I was just glad you let me in on the basement level, Boss. Ma’am.” Luther’s return to the semblance of professional distance lingers, head bowed slightly in recognition of their ranking positions. “I wasn’t expecting to be sitting with top brass at a diner eatin’ their pancakes like I’m head of security or nothin’, you know?” His brow tics up, a little bit of humor returning, dry and wry.

“After running into you in Midtown, and then you showing up at my door…” Richard sets the fork down on the syrup-sticky plate and reaches for his drink, chuckling, “…I kind of felt that fate was stepping in. Even if you did try and kill me that one time. I mean, you didn’t know that’s what you were doing, so— ”

He grins briefly, and then both eyebrows raise upwards. “Hm.” A sidelong look to Kaylee, “Head of security?”

There is a thoughtful look as Kaylee listens to Luther’s story watching him, listening to the hum of his mind. Not listening to the words, just the tone… which is often different then what shows. “Well… what can I say, Luther….” the telepath says with a smirk pulling at the corner of her mouth, “We are not typical top brass. I lived years in broken down buildings…. Running from the government. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to be like an exec should be.”

Fingers tap lightly on the table top, as Kaylee’s smirk turns into something more… well, like a kid up to something they know they shouldn’t be. Her head twists a little to glance at Richard out of the corner of her eye. “Reading my mind I see….” Yeah… she made that kind of joke.

Sitting up and leaning back in her seat, Kaylee’s expression turns serious. “Honestly, Mr. Bellamy. I have been thinking that you are far too overqualified to be a janitor, even if you are excellent at it.” Folding her hands and resting them on the table, she tries to look like a serious executive, even in blue jeans and a long sleeved tee shirt.

“Just from what I have observed lately… From what you did for my brother in the past and what I have seen of this on this trip, I…” She offers Richard an affectionate smile, and corrects herself, “We… would like to offer you the position of Head of Physical Security within Raytech Industries. I… can’t guarantee that it will be an easy job… since it seems like things around us are winding up again.” She sighs softly, looking a little disturbed at that thought, “But… I can’t think of a better candidate for the position or someone I could trust more.”

Kaylee looks at Richard and lifts her brow as if asking… You gotta problem with that?

Halfway in bringing a forkful of pancake up to his mouth, Luther stops at the query from Ray to Kaylee. Head of security. It’s a wonder he hears anything past it, but he evidently does. Luther sets the pancake bit down, weighing the offer extended. His brows furrow with that now common look for the man, and when he looks back up to the Rays, it’s with a determination. Luther nods. “I’m honored.” A beat. “And I accept.” Another beat passes before he reaches out a hand to seal the deal. “Does this mean I get a car?” It’s a valid question, right?

The last of Richard’s drink is finished off as Kaylee speaks, as she makes that offer, the straw he’s sipping through turning dark until there’s the tell-tale gurgle amongst the ice of an emptied glass. He sets it off to one side, picking up a napkin to daub at his lips and wipe his hands clear.

He tips his head in a nod towards Kaylee, then reaches out across the table to clasp the offered hand firmly, “Absolutely. We can’t have you taking public transit to the site of an emergency, after all, Luther.”

He flashes a grin, “Congratulations.”

After her brother, Kaylee takes Luther’s hand, but then lifts her other hand and clasps his between both of her own briefly, offering him a bright smile as she adds in her own congratulations.

“Welcome to the team, Mr. Bellamy.”


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