A Shadow Of A Shadow


dave_icon.gif kaylee_icon.gif luther_icon.gif

Scene Title A Shadow of a Shadow
Synopsis Kaylee and Luther follow the advice of a seer and travel far from the Safe Zone in search of David Cardinal.
Date March 21, 2018

Adirondack State Park is about as far away from the world as one can get in New York. Far beyond the ruins of war or the reconstruction of a new world, there is a moment in time crystallized like a fly in amber. Five and a half hours north of the Safe Zone, it's like the war never even happened. Here, rolling mountains and winding country roads cut through ancient pine forests laden with freshly fallen snow. Under cloudy skies and gusting precipitation, the coat of winter hides any signs of the past seven years.

Route 30 cuts a winding path through the Adirondacks, providing scenic overlooks of mountain lakes frozen over with ice, of tiny towns so small that they blow by in a single four-way intersection. Traffic is sparse, but the roads are plowed and salted, homes are occupied and businesses open. It's a reminder that the Safe Zone is a new, decaying urban frontier. That not all of the United States is in decay.

In the heated confines of a company car, Kaylee Ray-Sumter and her traveling companion Luther Bellamy have been on the road for going on six and a half hours, with a stop for lunch at a quaint lakeside diner included. But the view out the driver’s side window of a forested mountain slope descending to a mostly frozen lake is a sign their road trip is nearing an end.

Printed files are stashed in the gap between their seats, files on the town of Tupper Lake and what little public information was available on the man they've come to find: David Cardinal. His punlock records read a lot like Richard’s, thin and flimsy. He was born on September 7th 1961 in Chicago, Illinois to Dana and Michael Cardinal. There's paperwork indicating they didn't move around much, documents on a business called Cardinal Auto in Manhattan Kansas, the same location of what is now Richard’s radio station and bunker WRAY.

Death certificates for Michael and Dana are also included in the research, dating back to August 8, 1984 and a small article from the local paper about an automobile accident. But David Cardinal has no such paperwork, just a High School diploma and a few tax forms from the 1970s and 1980s when he worked at his father’s shop. Then, he just disappears.

The only leads they have to go on are his ghost of a history and the words of a seer pointing them in the direction of Tupper Lake. The overlap of someone who’s only work history is in the automotive field and a small town creates a tiny Venn diagram. There are precisely twelve garages in Tupper Lake, only five of which are open year round. It is this thinnest of leads that brings them this far.

Up ahead the road begins to gradually curve, headed downhill towards a snow-shrouded lakeside village nestled away in a forested valley, like something out of a Steven King novel. A tall wooden sign on the side of the road, dusted with snow, proclaims Welcome to Tupper Lake, the Crossroads.

Tupper Lake, NY

1:36 pm

“… so once I heard those words, ‘David Cardinal is alive’, I decided I would look into it.” Kaylee is finally in the middle of explaining the big secret about their trip. Not all the details… she doesn't say who’s mind it is or why she was in there. Just that she was in someone's head and heard those words. It wasn’t the scouting trip for a new expressive employee, like she told him or her brother.

Not taking her eyes off the road, she manages to fish the file out from between the seats and hands it over to Luther where he sits shotgun. A xerox copy of picture she managed to find in his office paperclipped to the inside.

It was her turn behind the wheel afterall. It is also — probably — the longest they have been in each other’s presence in one sitting.

Right now she doesn’t even look the part of a big business executive, taking advantage of trip to wear a well-worn pair of jeans, a pink, long-sleeved Harley-Davidson shirt, and a hoodie under a worn brown leather jacket. Her long blonde hair has been left to fall freely over her shoulders, not the typical updo she has around the office.

“I wanted to make sure this guy was real and actually alive before I tell my brother.” Kaylee hazards a quick glance to the man sitting next to her. “Richard just… He gets obsessed with something as important as this and… he needs really need to be focused.” It is the same line she gave Tamara and it was just as true. “Plus, if this isn’t real… then no big deal, I sweep it under the rug and he doesn’t end up heartbroken or depressed.” Brows furrow a little as she adds, “And I will never again listen to mysterious voices in someone’s head.” Seriously.

Kaylee sighs softly, watching the road ahead, “Can I count on you to keep this secret?” Not that she can go back on it now, they were already in the car and arriving at the destination, still she asks. “For him?”

As long as Luther’s been associated with the Ray’s, he’s never been the type to ask many questions of them, let alone their motives or their backgrounds. A holdover of that polite, neighborly sort of mannerism, also to some degree professionalism, he’s kept his distance at least as far as deep inner secrets go.

That’s changed in the past year, somewhat. Even more so in the past months.

Kaylee would have immediately sensed some caution about her claim that he was to go with her for a face-to-face interview of a potential employee. He was supposed to be custodial. But since Richard took him along to meet up with Niles in a similar fashion, Luther has been more accepting of the unspoken extra duties laid on his position. He wasn’t expecting a cushy office job at all, naturally.

Six hours, though, in the presence of a telepath. Much of the time when he’s not driving, he’s trying to get some sleep. He doesn’t get very much, snatches here and there, fits and starts and waking sometimes in cold sweats despite the heater in the car. When he does, his gaze goes to the comforting sights of the landscape. It’s hard to keep his mind from wandering as the beauty of the wintery landscape, the sight of small towns and villages of people who are all ekeing out their survival, and the steady vibration of their transport elicit some old memories. He criss-crossed the states through the war, fighting in various missions and campaigns. But these mountains are one place he hasn’t been to, and a thought, or rather a mental image, of a blonde woman smiling crosses his mind. She would have loved this.

He’s focused back on Kaylee when she talks to him again, revealing the actual intentions of the trip. Luther listens with interest, frowning with discomfort about the reason to keep it a secret. His gray eyes slide over the file, the photograph, and then he looks back over to the driver. “Yes ma’am. Miss. Kaylee.” He’s apparently trying to still keep the degree of professionalism in tact, however slim it is with their outfits (his a heavier jacket, random tee, work pants, boots). “And what about you? If you don’t find what - who - you’re looking for?” It’s a valid concern, in his mind.

Their conversation fills the silence of their descent into the town of Tupper Lake. It's a scenic village, dotted with old colonial-era farmhouses on the outskirts interspersed with 1950s and 1960s era industrial block residences cookie-cutter packed together. Everything is decked in snow, and the town has a somewhat idyllic appearance in timeless, almost Norman Rockwell fashion.

They pass by a diner on the outskirts of town, a large neon sign reading Nite Owl flickering against the haze of falling snow. There's only a few cars parked outside, lights on within. The sight of it evokes a sensory memory of burnt coffee and fried eggs.

Luther’s question is a good one, that requires a truthful answer. “I don’t know — yet. It would be best if I just pretend it never happened.” She offers him a tight lipped smile. “However, that will not happen until I exhaust every avenue, to find the answer. Hell… If I find a death certificate or a grave, at least I’ll know.” That what? She’s crazy?

Pointing at the file, she asks not taking her eyes off the road, “What’s the first shop on the list?”

After a moment she adds, “And, while I appreciate the professionalism, if you call me ma’am one more time, I might have to smack you and then I’ll have to write myself up for assaulting an employee.” She angles a pleading look his direction. “Please, don’t make me do that, Luther.” The bright smile she breaks into is a good clue that she is joking, of course.

By the time they come within range of the town, Luther is back to looking out the windows rather than the file. When they pass the Nite Owl, his gaze follows the building, somewhere intuitively counting how many people are in the diner that he can see who would be patronizing the eatery, what sorts of cars dot the sparse lot. What kind of people manage to live in this idyllic town. What secrets do they hold?

"Wouldn't blame anybody for wanting to come out here," he remarks to Kaylee, although he pushes back against an invasively dark thought when she mentions death certificates and graves. There's too many of one, not enough of the other. Luckily, she provides him a distraction that sends his gaze back down to the file, and from it he reads the name of the first shop. Lakeside Auto. So original. Then again, Cardinal Auto… mechanics aren't nightclub owners anyway. They don't need to be hip or edgy.

The man then glances over when Kaylee jokes about smacking him, and her comment curls something of a cheshire cat smile on his features. He eyes Kaylee. "First shop on the list's called Lakeside Auto… Ma'am." Token effort is made to avoid a smack if one is coming, even though there's no space to duck away.

Mouth dropping a little in shock. /He did dare. He gets an incredulous look for his effort. She looks like there are a million things she could say as a retort….many with impolite words or even that smack she promised; but the end result is Kaylee laughing.

“Oh. My. God….” Chuckling Kaylee shakes her head slowly. “You got me… Well played, sir… well played.”

There’s a wealth of opportunities for Luther to call Kaylee ma’am in their journey. Lakeside Auto, Located — unsurprisingly — just off of Lake Street is a bust. No one at the business who resembles David Cardinal and no one at the shop seems to recognize him. The second stop crosses the sleepy down, with its snow-decked town square with a First Civil War Union soldier statue surrounded by overgrown hedges.

Counter’s Garage & Towing is nearly a bust as well, with workers not recognizing the name David Cardinal or his photograph. But given the time that’s passed since it was taken, since he was last accounted for in 1982, perhaps it’s not a surprise. Time can change people, oftentimes in unexpected and dramatic ways. But on their way back to the car across a snowy parking lot, a woman’s voice calls out from the office door.

“Wait!” A receptionist they’d spoken to just moments ago comes carefully hustling out across the snowy asphalt. Her shoes click-clack, followed by a huff of breath as she catches up to Kaylee and Luther. “Sorry, I’m sorry, I wasn’t really thinking when I looked at the photo.” Her curly blonde hair frosts with tiny flakes of snow. “That looks like Walt,” she offers with a motion of her nose to the picture.

“He’s got his own automotive shop off of Adirondack Park Reserve, it’s about five minutes that way,” she motions away from the lake toward the north. “Are… you two cops?” The receptionist tugs her unzippered coat closed. “Is Walt in trouble?”

“No ma’am.” Oh great, now he’s got her saying it. She manages to give him a bit of a side-eye before turning the face the woman. To the woman, Kaylee seems somber, her smile downcast,as she says, “Just the daughter of an old friend of his, I just wanted to deliver him some news.” By the tone of her voice, which isn’t hard to do, the telepath makes it sound like sad news. Easy, cause her father has been dead for 7 years.

She looks down at the photo in her hand, “Daddy, always wished they could have reconnected.” That she isn’t sure if it was true, but… when you are on a roll… “So I made a promise to find him.”

Turning, Kaylee reaches out to gently grab Luther’s arm and start guiding him back to the car, “Thank you so much for the tip.”

There’s just silence from Luther for most of the chatting between Kaylee and the auto shop employees, seeing as he’s not exactly the one with the actual connection. But the man’s checking off the mental list of auto shops as he walks alongside Kaylee back to the car when the receptionist comes a’hustling out, and he turns to regard the woman with raised, curious brows.

He remains mum upon Kaylee’s use of the “ma’am”, and barely keeps from cracking a smirk for it. Luther shakes his head at the question of them being cops, only corroborating Kaylee’s story with a sobering nod. “Thank you,” he pipes in over his shoulder and lets himself be turned back to the car.

Once back in the vehicle, he’s flipping open the file and using a pen to write down the bits that they know. Walt and Adirondack Park Reserve auto shop. “Do we look like a pair of cops?” he asks after he closes the file, tapping his fingers on the folder. It’s an honest musing, possibly amusing as well. Though given that he’s been a security guard/rent-a-cop in the past amongst other things, Luther’s probably got that aura about him.

On their way back to the car the snow picks up some, tiny wet flakes turning into larger and heavier flakes that cling to every surface. The windshield is already blanketed by the time they get back inside and turn the engine over. The radio is soft static, heat on, and the car dark for all the light that the thin blanket of snow blocks through the windshield.

The windshield wipers are enough to sweep away the snow, and as they pull out of the parking lot there's a certain sense of the unknown that hangs in the air. Who is David Cardinal? What does he know? Where has he been? As they get back onto the road and follow the GPS to Walt’s Auto Repair, the snowy burg of Tupper Lake affords them no answers. The town is quiet and serene, with lights on in frosted windows, snow collecting to even the sides of lamp posts.

It only takes eight minutes to arrive at their destination. As they near a scrapyard comes into view, old rusting cars dusted with snow, heaping piles of scrap metal, no fence of any kind around it all. Walt’s Auto is just around the corner, a squat cement-block garage with an aluminum roof and an attached trailer as an office. As they pull in to the recently plowed, dirt parking lot Kaylee and Luther are afforded a moment of privacy to plan their next steps. David Cardinal is there, under the alias Walt, it means he's been hiding out for decades. People don't do that on a whim.

“You know — ” Kaylee starts softly, hands gripping the wheel at ten and two, knuckles white. She stares out the window at the shop that may or may not hold some answers for Richard. “ — I have to admit, when I started this day. I really thought we wouldn’t be finding much. I mean… really who drives 6 hours to someplace in the middle of nowhere on the word of some mysterious voice in someone’s head.“ This is Kaylee nervous.

“Really wasn’t thinking I’d actually — possibly be finding a man would could be Richard’s dad.” One hand lets go of the wheel, to motion towards the shop, like ’yet here we are’. “I mean, I trust Tamara to know, but I guess in my mind I thought…. ‘No this is too weird… this is just the cosmos pulling my leg.’” Kaylee takes a deep breath and tries to calm her nerves. “Then … I remember my life over 7 years ago… then this doesn’t seem too impossible or too weird.”

Fingers drum a nervous pattern on the steering wheel, “I know — he’s got to be hiding for a reason, but I don’t want to believe it is cause of Edward Ray.” She doesn’t sound convinced of this, but she continues — “They were supposedly great friends. So….” The telepath hesitates before simply saying, “Maybe I’ll just go in and be truthful —” She considers that word and amends it “ — ish?” She could play it as Edward sent her to find him… not true, but not outside the realm of possibility.

“You got a better idea?”

For a long moment, Luther lets Kaylee go on and twist herself to mental knots. Glancing down to the file in hand, Luther wears an expression as blank as the smooth manila surface he stares at. Then after a time, when the car’s heated enough that the warmth can penetrate through their clothes and warm their bones, the man answers. “You’re not going to know any answers to any questions if you don’t ask. Every man’s got his secrets, sure. But lookin’ at you… won’t be any way that he’d be able to open up at least a little.” Because she’s a telepath, so as far as Luther knows she can just read minds when she wants.

Gray eyes turn, regarding the woman beside him. “If you’re going to speak to him, you best speak the truth,” he adds after, with an effort to break her nervousness by throwing in a low, “That’s what I think, ma’am.”

However, he follows the thought with a squinting of his eyes. “Unless you think there’s a reason he wouldn’t want to talk to you. Would he even know who you are?” He leaves that hanging in the air like the dangle of an invisible air freshener, leaning back in his seat once more. “Either way, we got something else to decide too, because not for long it’ll be snowing hard enough this car probably won’t make it back by morning.” Meaning they might have to find a place to wait out the storm. Preferably a warm place, but he’s sat and shivered through worse.

As she sits there and listens to her companion talk, Kaylee’s eyes are on the shop. He can’t see it or feel it, but her ability is already unwinding itself from her, like a giant snake waking from a long slumber. However tempting, she hesitates to push it further to check the shop. Instead, something he says gets her attention. It gets a huff of amusement and she finally looks at him. “I see why Richard likes having you around,” she offers as a compliment and appreciation.

Her blue eyes find the shop again, “He won’t know me, but he will know my father’s name.” A pause. “Unless someone wiped his mind,” she quips, brows lifting a little. “That would be my luck.” That said a little more under her breath.

Taking a deep breath Kaylee finally turns off the car and nods. “Okay, Mr. Bellamy.” A nervous glance is cast Luther’s direction and the picture snagged from it’s spot on the dash. “Let’s do this then.”

Bracing herself against the bite of the freezing air outside the car, she pops open the door, slides out, and makes for the entrance of the shop. Caution has her listening with ears and mind, her chin tucked in to keep the snow out of her eyes.

Now if she could just squash her nerves.

Luther brings up two fingers to tap at his temple, his mild smile acknowledging the compliment. “Won’t know if that’s happened either ‘til we see,” he comments on the possibility of a mind wipe, “but honestly it’s a little worrisome that’s the first thought you jump to when it comes to someone not recognizing your father. Instead of, you know, time. Or maybe too many beers.” His nods as they she’s worked up her courage, and steps out with Kaylee into the cold. His gloved hands tug his coat together, holding it rather than needing to seek out zipper pulls for such a short distance.

As they get out of the car, the door to the trailer adjacent to the garage opens and a man of modest height in a puffy brown jacket walks out into the cold, adjusting his knit cap and gloves. “Hey there!” He calls from across the plowed drive, clearing the distance with bolted strides.

“We’re closed early today, kinda’ bad weather coming in. I'm just wrapping up some stuff before I go home,” he says in a smooth, apologetic tone that carries a hint of Midwestern accent. “If you two wanna come by tomorrow though…” he leaves that hanging. The man standing before them has a rough, 5 o’clock shadow. His eyes betray a sense of tired resignation that does after a fashion remind them of Richard. He's also only about Luther’s age. A young father, and one who has no idea what he's gotten into today.

As the man approached, a smile turns up the corners of Kaylee’s mouth, bright, friendly, and open. Her tone is just as bright and friendly, only partially an act. “I’m sorry to bother you — sir.” Snow is ignored, as it alights on her blonde locks and melts… cold seeping into her scalp. “I — “ There is a moment that she feels a little unsure of herself, she has the picture gripped in her hands. A glance down at it, gives her enough courage to start talking again. “ — just wanted to talk a little.”

Taking a careful step forward, she turns the copy of the photo around and offers it, still held with both of her hands. “My father — “ Kaylee starts, watching ‘Walt’— listens to the sound of his mental voice on the other side of that wall. “ — he had that photo. Said it was of his closest friends. It belongs to my brother now. My adopted brother.” Teeth catch at her lower lips, worried… The smile falters a little with that stabbing sensation of worry.

“Do — Do you know the man in that photo?” She knows that answer, the look on her face says she does, too.

Once the snow starts to come down more, Luther reaches into his coat pocket to extract the rumpled navy beanie from it and tucks it over his head and ears. There’s no more eagerness in his steps to meet with the other man halfway; his pace remains alongside Kaylee’s. “Evenin’ sir,” Luther throws in with an amicable nod of the head. There’s only the faintest feeling of wariness prodding in his gut, the usual sort when meeting a new face.

Once Kaylee starts up with her photo, Luther’s watching the man too but takes a moment to reach over and put a hand on the woman’s shoulder. “Kaylee,” he says after. “How ‘bout starting with names first?” The hand on her shoulder won’t stay long, as it’s offered forward for a handshake. “I’m Luther. And we’re trying to find a friend of her father’s,” he supplies evenly. “The folks over at the Counter mentioned you might be someone who knows?”

Walt stares vacantly at Kaylee, then shoots a wary look to Luther. There's a moment where his back tenses, pale eyes dipping down to the photograph but not really seeing it. He doesn't take the offered hand, and Kaylee can feel a roiling mess of unguarded thoughts just behind his eyes.

They're here

“Uh, sorry, don't think I know whoever it is you’re looking for.” ‘Walt’ is already starting to disengage from the conversation. Now, this close, he has an uncanny resemblance to the photo of David Cardinal.

I'm not going back there

“Look, um,” Walt points over his shoulder, “I was just gonna wrap up here and head home so…”

No, no, no, no, I was so careful!

“I mean if you really can't wait,” Walt takes a step back toward the trailer, “sure yeah you know— just let me lock up.”

How did they find me?

Walt backs up another step, flashing a smile that doesn't reach his eyes. Luther doesn't need telepathy to see he's retreating like a cornered animal.

I'm not going back there

This was exactly what Kaylee was afraid of. It takes everything in her not to actually make stop him. “No, please. Don’t leave. I’m sorry. Luther is right, I should have introduced myself.” Her hands come up, palms out, though one hand still clutches the photo. Blue eyes wide, her voice tight with stress. “My name is Kaylee Ray.” She says quickly, there might be a touch of worry that she completely blew this. “My father was Edward Ray.”

Swallowing against the sudden nerves in her stomach, “He gave us these photos. Me and your son, Richard Cardinal.” Kaylee doesn’t move forward, she can tell he’s spooked. She rests a gloved hand on Luther’s arm, partially to keep him there, but mostly as support. “I’m not here to do anything, only talk… to see if you were real.” Her tone says they have been hurt before, the deception about Richard being her real brother —

“I didn’t want Richard hurt again.”

Hand left hanging without a shake, Luther gradually lowers it back to his side. No sudden movements, no need to be hurrying this conversation along any more than Walt wants. He, too, recognizes the retreat of a man who has things to hide, secrets to keep. Kaylee’s hand does well to stop him from advancing where Walt backs up, leaving Luther to hold his position. But not his tongue. “We’re not here to bring you anywhere or do anything you don’t want,” claims the man, sounding truthful at least by his definition and knowledge of what Kaylee intends. His gaze shifts briefly over to Kaylee as she goes on, and then back to Walt. “We know this is an unexpected visit, but, if you could… indulge the lady.”

His gloved hand reaches up to rub at the back of his neck, brushing off the snow gathered there. “She’s driven a real long way to come see you, Mr. Cardinal.”

Pretenses of ‘Walt’ thrown aside by Luther’s assertion, David tenses in his shoulders and fires a look at Kaylee that is at once horrified and confused. My what? The question echoes in David's mind for a moment, hanging with a reiteration of Edward’s name multiple times. The tension is replaced with fiery anger.

“You sons of bitches!” David shouts, taking a threatening step toward Kaylee, though just the one. The wind picks up, driving snow from drifts in stinging clouds. “You— you fuckers! It isn't enough that you took my fucking ability from me, but now— now you're here just— ” One of David’s hands balls up into a fist, eyes wide and pupils dilated.

Edward Ray is a backstabbing son of a bitch who should have killed me when he had the chance!” David shouts loudly, taking one more step forward and pointing accusingly at Kaylee. “And I don't know what sick kind of fucking game you two,” he shoots a brief look at Luther, “are playing, but I never had a son!”

Something in the telepath keeps her standing there, chin tilting up ever so slightly. She doesn’t flinch, nor does she move. Unbeknownst to either man, Kaylee’s ability waits coiled and ready to strike, if need be, to stop him. She always seemed weak, but she never really is. The hand on Luther’s arm tightens slightly, a sign not to move yet… even if she brought him as back-up. The smile isn’t so bright anymore, but it is still there… a little sad.

“I’m not here to play games, Mr. Cardinal,” her voice doesn’t rise and it shows none of the fear that gnaws at her. “I’m here to find answers to this goddamn mess my father has left in my lap.”

The telepath’s eyes narrow slightly considering the raging man in front of her. The thoughts that she catches tell her he is speaking truthfully. It’s — confusing and that is frustrating for her.

“However, if you are right — It sounds like my father has been keeping secrets again,” she says blandly, “— or lying again.” It would not be the first time in her mind. “Unfortunately, I can’t just go to him, because my father is dead. Has been since I helped the Ferrymen destroyed the Institute.” An indication that she might have that blood on her hands, at least in her mind.

“I’ve been set on this path to seek you out… someone who shares the same last name as my adopted brother, Richard Cardinal.” Her hands turned up in a helpless gesture, as Kaylee adds, “Please, just hear me out. That is all I am asking.”

By the consternated expression growing on Luther’s features, it’s obvious that he wasn’t expecting the quick turn on the dime of the other man’s mood. The reaction to the name Edward Ray. He’s not, in fact, sure what he was expecting at all. But he does understand the threatening step forward, which causes Luther to tense with the slightest tilt of his body forward in reaction, a hunching of his shoulders in tense anticipation. It’s Kaylee’s hand that stays him, distracts him from the defensive pull of his own power, enough that he doesn’t merely react to David’s body language, but to what the man says.

Took his ability? What the hell? is the stray thought that crosses Luther’s mind. The man likewise turns his gaze to Kaylee, a questioning gaze at that. They know Richard Ray had lost his power too, but the details of that aren’t something Luther has asked about. He’d assumed, again in the midst of professionalism and politeness, that it was exactly none of his business to know or ask after. As she goes on with her plea, with the note that her father is dead, his features take on a somewhat distant note.

“Sir,” Luther fires back, his brow creasing as he levels an even look alongside an even tone, “I don’t know what all you are getting hot about myself. But honestly, if you think we went through all this trouble to come out here and play games, then you can go right on home and fuck yourself.” The man folds his arms over his chest, staring down the other flatly. Stubbornly. Maybe a touch challengingly. “You want to do this little bit of therapy soul-searching out here in the snow, or do you want to sit down and get answers to how we got all the way out here to you and why the hell are we even here?” Luther takes a gamble on the other man’s temper, or the idea that Richard Cardinal’s need to know things characteristic also runs in this man as much as the daughter of Edward Ray. Sorry Kaylee.

I don't care what you want!” David shouts at the top of his lungs, voice cracking. “The last time I saw my wife was days after we were married in 1982. Then I was fucking kidnapped by men in black suits and locked in a ten by ten concrete cell for twenty seven fucking years!

There's a manic, horrified look in David’s eyes as he accounts that story, and Kaylee can see glimpses of men in black suits with skinny ties and tranquilizer guns, memories of gray stone walls and a single cot and a metal toilet. Memories of multiple attempts at his own life. “Edward fucking Ray! That piece of shit, broke me out of that hell-hole with some metal monster and dragged me halfway across the country!”

David gets increasingly agitated as he talks, eyes welled up with tears. “He robs me of my fucking gift and throws me away like a piece of garbage!” Hands shaking, David walks away from Kaylee and Luther, takes his hands through his hair and circles back. “My wife wasn't pregnant! I don’t know any Richard Cardinal! I never had a fucking son!

The thing about being a telepath, things affect you. What you see in the mind of another can dredge up emotions. A hand is pressed to her chest, by time he is facing them again, jaw clenched against those images that come at her. So, it takes her a moment to gather her wits. “I hear you.” Kaylee says softly, “I get it. But how do you know for sure?” A question to thread doubt in his mind. “I’ve seen a picture of Michelle pregnant. Wouldn’t it be nice to know for sure?” Her hands come up again to stall him… hopefully.

“I can’t even begin to understand what Edward Ray did to you. He destroyed the lives of a lot of people.” More than she can even explain. Kaylee searches his eyes, listens for something something she can grab ahold of. “I don’t think I could even rightly apologize for what he has done.” Suddenly, it’s less about her brother and more about the wrongs done to this man. Done by her father… another victim in Edward’s plans…. Just like the whole country. She sighs heavily and looks helplessly at Luther, before addressing David again. “But clearly, there are a lot of questions and not nearly enough answers, for any of us.”

Kaylee glances up at the thickening snowfall, she seems almost sad. Definitely feeling defeated. “I’m sorry, Mr. Cardinal. For barging in on your life… I know you have no reason to trust me… especially, given —” There is a huff of laughter that holds no humor “ — everything?” Looking back down at the men again, her eyes seem a little bright with threatening tears. “I’d like to help you find answers and find a way for you to reclaim your life.” After all, doing that could help Richard, too.

The ferocity of David's reaction, Luther expected. He didn't expect the context. "What the hell," he mutters under his breath, watching the back of the other man once he loses his cool. The recollection of the file marking David Cardinal as missing and unaccounted for since 1982 comes up. Luther frowns as he looks back to Kaylee, expression asking. Containment cells, black bags, forced imprisonment, false memories and identities… What the hell have they gotten into?

But what he does understand is the agitation, the raw emotion, the trauma. He steps forward a pace to come up beside Kaylee. "We've upset you and for that, we're sorry," he adds quietly, steadily, coming down off his own tense rush. "Listen. It's cold, snowing, storm's getting worse and won't get much better the longer we stand around out here. Why don't you go home, and we'll…" He glances over to the woman, briefly hesitant, then turns back to the man. "We'll stick around and come back again." Tomorrow, or the next day, he leaves this open ended, but watches David's reaction closely.

David is silent for a long while, something in there struck him. He tenses, halfway between a run and a lurch, and then wipes the snow away that was gathering in his hair. “If she was pregnant, it wasn't with my child,” David admits shakily. “She wasn't ever pregnant when I knew her,” and yet Kaylee had seen a photograph of them both together when she was pregnant.

“What d’you want me t’even say?” David asks with a cracking, desperate quality to his voice. “Does this guy who was told I was his father want to… to meet some fucking stranger? You want me to apologize for not being there for a kid I didn't know I had?” He shakes his head, helplessly.

“I don't know what you were expecting to find here,” David sounds both apologetic and resentful, “but I'm sure as shit not what you wanted.” He doesn't speak of the storm visibly worsening, doesn't speak of the possibility of their return. He seems certain that neither, in the moment, matters.

“To be honest, I wasn’t sure what I was going to find,” Kaylee seems to relax some as the man in front of her seems to calm down somewhat. “Richard doesn’t even know I am here. Like I said… he was hurt before, so I came here to see if you even existed.” Fingers lift to tuck hair behind her ear and she sighs. “And no… I don’t think he wants any of that, even if he did know. I think he just wants to know what we all want to know.” Her hands spread a bit helplessly, as she offers a soft, sad smile. “To know where we came from… and who we are.”

Kaylee shakes her head, slowly, taking a small step forward, hands still clutching at that photo, offering it out again, “There is so much going on in this world. Stuff that you can’t even wrap your head around….Hell, I can’t even get my head around it and I’ve lived it…. But, this mystery we can solve easily. If — if you’ll trust me.”

This is where she hesitates… Kaylee is a little nervous offering this, but in her mind it is the only way to put this behind them. “Let me have a DNA test done.” Her hands come up again, stalling him. “If it show you as not related to Richard in anyway…. You never have to see us again.” Richard will probably never forgive her that one… “Don’t answer now, think on it. Like my associate here said, we’re stuck here a few days.”

It was a big gamble, but… it’s the last one she could think of right now.

Having fallen silent in observation once more, Luther moves his narrowed gaze just off the man to the worsening weather that seems to be metaphorical for their present search for information. “I was just here to make sure she didn’t get serial killed,” the man slides his shoulders up and down in a shrug in response to the man’s notes. “Wasn’t expecting an episode of the Maury show.” His gaze moves over to Kaylee a moment as she seconds the notions about inclement weather, then back on to David.

“Well, you know what we’re looking for. But knowin’ what all you know now, what is it you want?” The question from Luther comes up with a genuinely questioning tone, and raised, curious brows.

David stares at the ground for a moment, both haunted and broken by his experiences. He doesn't immediately answer Luther’s question, though it's clear from his expression he's considering both that and Kaylee’s request. After a long while he looks up to Luther, then Kaylee. “What I want is for you both t’go away.”

But it's clear they likely won't without what they came here for. “There's… a clinic up the street. After the storm passes I'll— get a cheek swab done there. You can call for the results and have them send it to whatever hospital is local to you.” It's a sensible response, though one made under duress.

“Are… are you done?” David finally asks, shoulders slouched and eyes squinted against the falling snow.

The guilt will be there for a long time, Kaylee knows it. Her head nods slowly, “Yeah….” Blue eyes drop away from the man. It takes everything in her not to cave and apologize. “Look…” She finishes a card out of her pocket and hands it to him. “I know right now, you won’t probably ever want to see me again, but you can call here if — if — you ever want to know more.”

Stepping back, Kaylee turns to leave, but stops… brows furrow a little and she looks back. “If - If you want to talk, before the roads are clear and we are gone. We’ll be at that inn over near that Night Owl diner. I might have a few more pictures and…” She waves her hand, “Well, I’ll save that for if we ever get to talk again.”

Her head comes up, her ability flares out, it is undetectable… delicate. “Your cover is safe with us, Mr. Cardinal.” She tries to put power in those words, delicately weaving in the thought that maybe, just maybe, they are telling the truth. There is no goodbye, he probably doesn’t want to hear it. Kaylee only turns and walks away. Keys are fished out and offered to Luther, as she makes her way towards the car. “Can you drive, Mr Bellamy?” The telepath asks softly. Something in her voice says, that it might be a good idea.

So, he wants them to go away. Luther's chest rises and falls, his breath curling out and whisked away in the chill breeze. Gloved hands slide into his coat pockets. In verbal response, there's no comment to the man's wants. In a way, Luther understands the statement deeply. They've intruded, worn out a welcome that was barely ever there, and destroyed a peaceful life with all the finesse of a sledgehammer.

Still, he looks surprised to hear the other man supposedly concede to Kaylee's plea about a DNA test. His brow furrows, something stirs the suspicion in Luther's gut despite that there is a tacit agreement to perform the test. "Sure," rumbles the man when asked if they're done. He takes a step back, beginning the retreat.

Then a half turn back towards the car, taking the next step to pull back on the awkward pressure from the other man. Luther pauses long enough to wait for Kaylee, and when she fishes out the keys to hold out to him, he extracts his hand from his pocket to take them wordlessly. No good byes, no further apologies said; saying any more would feel like hollow platitudes. Luther leads the way back to the car, only once looking back over his shoulder at the broken man they're leaving behind surrounded by a growing blizzard of cold and confusion.

David stands silently as Kaylee and Luther depart, holding the business card in one hand without having so much as looked at it yet. The snow swirls around, whipping into his eyes and stinging his cheeks. Once they've retreated all the way back to his car, David closes his eyes and lets out a breath he feels like he's been holding forever.

Slowly, he turns back toward the trailer adjacent to the garage, listening to the sound of car doors closing and an engine turning over. David ascends the steps to the trailer and steps inside quietly. As he enters he pulls off his winter hat, throwing it onto a table strewn with mail and loose papers as he shuts the door behind himself. Next, he unzips his jacket, never letting go of the business card as he does.

The jacket is hung by the door, and David moves to the window and peeks out the slatted blinds, watching the headlights of Kaylee and Luther’s car pulling away. He straightens, walks over to the coffee pot in the tiny kitchenette by the door and pours himself a mug. Then, he absconds with that deeper into the trailer.

There's a distant radio playing, getting louder as David moves to the back of the trailer and slips through an open door.

…sun in your eyes, made some of your lies worth believing.

David raises his coffee to his mouth, takes a slow sip as he steps into the back room and flicks on a desk lamp. The coffee is set down next to several opened yellow shipping envelopes, each with shakily written handwriting that is barely legible.

I am the eye in the sky, looking at you, I can read your mind

David slips up to the desk those envelopes sit on, stopping only to fish around in a small box for a paperclip, which he carefully affixes to the business card. He scans the name, RAYTECH, and his brows furrow subtly, the corners of his mouth hooking into a frown.

I am the maker of rules, dealing with fools, I can cheat you blind

Turning his back to the desk, David looks on to a tangled mass of strings crossing the entire length of the room. He traces one piece of yand, stops at a newspaper clipping from June 18th, 1982 with a headline that reads Woman Slain in Pedestrian Traffic Collision.

I don't need to see anymore, to know I can read your mind

He passes that string, following another bright red piece of yarn. Past a headline that reads Redbird Securities Building Destroyed in Alleged Terrorist Attack. He follows the string just a bit further, and paperclips the business card up.

I can read your mind

David stares at the card, then takes a step back and looks at the string web with an ever-increasing look of distress on his face as the snow and wind hammers down on the trailer.

I can read your mind

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