A Sticky Situation


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Scene Title A Sticky Situation
Synopsis Tess makes one more attempt to bond with Kain, and circumstances make it so it works better than she could have expected.
Date November 4, 2010

Dorchester Towers

A chill hangs in the air in New York City, by the residents of the Big Apple have become hardened to the cold.

Forty-nine degrees outside is nothing compared to the subarctic chill that turned New York into a little ice cap over the last winter. While autumn is descending towards winter, leaves have fallen off the trees, and the skyline shows shades of purple-orange hue from a sunset behind patchwork purple clouds. It is a beautiful night, even if slouching towards the apocalypse.

Coming out of the parking garage at Dorchester Towers and up the ramp that descends into it, Kain Zarek savors the remaining third of an unfinished cigarette on his way around the front of the building towards the entrance. He could take the internal elevator from parking garage straight to penthouse, but the walk ot the front doors, the ritual of checking his mailbox and finishing a cigarette before all is said and done is so ingrained into him.

He is nothing if not a creature of habit.

That makes him predictable.

And that, works in the favor of Tess Winslow.

Tess is waiting at the end of the ramp for him, leaning against the wall to keep the weight off of her ankle, which now has a brace on it, but that's as far as medical attention has gone. Well, that and a little weed smoked just prior to heading over here. But that was also to help calm her a bit, so, hopefully, she wouldn't jump right to button pushing this time.

She's bundled up, looking like a neon blue marshmallow, almost, and is puffing away on a cigarette while she waits. And when she spots Kain, her head tilts, she pauses, then she speaks. "Please don't jump on me. I know you don't want me here. There's just…somethin' I needed to talk to you about. You want me gone after this, then I'm gone. Won't darken your doorstep ever again." The hand holding the cigarette lifts, and she mimes drawing an 'X' over her chest. "Cross my heart."

While normally her words come rapid fire, with barely a breath between sentences, today they come in more of the drawl usually attributed to Southerners. Nice, lazy, almost musical.

Kain freezes like a deer caught in an oncoming car's headlights and meets with much the same result. When he could have run and saved himself from her opening speech, Kain instead finds himself beset upon by a far less hyper, far less aggressive, limping Tess Winslow. Remarkably, Kain's reaction isn't flight, frustration, or flipping her off.

"Goddamn you're a sorry-ass sight…" Lifting up one hand to rub across his face, Kain closes his eyes and exhales a heavy sigh. When the hand comes down, when blue eyes square on the young blonde, he throws his cigarette down to the asphalt with a spark of the ember at the end.

"A'right," Kain reluctantly agrees with a slow shake of his head, "out with it, Ah' ain't got all day."

Tess shrugs a little and extends her injured foot a little. "Yeah…guess I am. But the ankle's gettin' better. Pretty sure it ain't broken," she muses thoughtfully. Another shrug and the foot is lowered, her gaze lifted to him. "Mostly, I just got a question for you. Just a question. Not judgin', not condemin' you or anything. But…Not sure it's somethin' you'd wanna talk about down here, where anyone can walk by," she admits with an apologetic look.

Then, more quietly. "It's 'bout your dad. And please, remember I said I wasn't judgin'."




"Dad's dead," Kain mutters, "mom's dead too. Ain't nothin' else y'need t'know 'bout them 'less you want me t'sock yer jaw off right here on the street an' don't think Ah' won't hit a girl." There's just enough fire behind Kain's words to make them personal and just enough warning in his look that means this topic is off limits. It isn't even something Dixon or Manny could easily pry out of them, and they're both decades-old friends.

"You wanna' talk 'bout anythin' else, that's fine by me. You say his name or push this one more bit an' Ah' sweat t'God you'd wish you hadn't." It isn't just anger that laces through Kain's words, though, it's also regret and fear.

His face is considered, the tone considered, the words considered. The fear and regret considered, more even, than the anger. And finally, Tess nods. "Alright. I'm sure there were reasons." She drops her cigarette and crushes it out with the toe of her shoe. "Wanted to apologize, by the way. 'Bout what I said before, about you causin' mom's death. Wasn't fair'n it wasn't true. And if you wanna know, I'll tell you how it happened," she offers, but her tone is still lazy, casual. She's trying hard not to push, and being stoned helps. A lot.

Something is different today, with Tess, with her demeanor. Kain's still the same, that much he actually takes pause to check. Not drunk, not depressed any more than he usually is, not high, not sick — weird. That Tess is being tolerable eases Kain's posture, makes that defensive hunch of his shoulders slack some. Rolling his tongue across the inside of his cheek, Kain exhales a sigh and turns his back on Tess.

"C'mon Rugrat," Kain murmurs as he heads back in the direction of the parking garage. "We'll go on up, Ah' ain't gonna' freeze mah giblets off out here listenin' t'your sob story." It sounds harsh, but Tess knows Kain's harsh tone. This isn't it.

For all his bull-headed arrogance, it seems more like an act, like what is expected of him than how he actually feels.

Tess waits patiently while he tries to figure out why she's not annoying as hell, and when he decides what to do, she grins. It's a happy expression, but most definitely a Zarek one. Him, if he were ever happy, perhaps. "Oh thank god," she says, pushing away from the wall and 'hurrying' after him until she's walking beside him. Or at least moving in a bit of an awkward walk, favoring her right ankle. "Still used to N'awlins, not to this cold."

"This ain't shit, you see on the news what Ol' Man Winter popped a squat on us and shit out a white frosty turd on the city?" Yeah, Kain is a classy guy. His voice echoes in the parking garage as he walks, at first taking his usual brisk pace until he remembers that the girl following him is effectively hobbled. Slowing down, Kain turns and looks back over his shoulder to Tess.

"C'mon Hop-Along," he grouses with a jerk of his head towards the metal doors of the elevator across the parking lot, "pick up the pace, Ah' ain't waitin' for your gimp ass t'hobble on after me."

"Yeah, I heard about it. I think everyone did. Freak blizzard in what, April? May? Made me damn glad to be down in good ol' Louisiana," Tess says, nodding and picking up her pace, perhaps a bit more than she might be able to sober. Weed, for her, is apparently a multi-purpose drug. After all, it does forestall her suggestion that he just give her a piggy back ride to the elevator.

So she manages to keep up with his slowed pace. "Still, glad it's not that bad. Gives me time to ease into it some. Which is good since it's already colder'n a witches tit, 'least to me." She must get her class from dad instead of mom.

Stopping at the elevator, Kain hits the call button and turns to look back at Tess. "What brought all this on?" It's Kain's idea of a segue, "Bein' reasonable an' not tryin' t'be some hot-shit? Y'know if you'd come t'me with this attitude th' first time we'd met, not tried t'make it all some sorta' ha-ha game…" Kain trails off, slowly shaking his head. "Well, Ah' can't say thing's d'be much different, but maybe a little."


The elevator doors roll open with a rumble, and Kain looks away from Tess as he walks on in, turning around to reach inside of his slacks pocket and withdraw a key ring, fumbling around the ring for a squarish key that be places in a lock next to the Penthouse button, tapping it with two fingers after Tess follows him inside.

Tess looks a little sheepish at the question, ducking her head a little as she follows him onto the elevator. "Well…Every other time we talked I just annoyed you. Started tryin' to figure out why. What I was doin' or sayin' that kept pissin' you off. Finally I figured I'm just too pushy sometimes for my own damn good. And, well, you sorta pissed me off too. So…I hunted 'round'n scored me a bit of weed, since it sorta levels out my hyperness levels."

She glances over at him and grins. "And all things considered, can't say it was a bad choice, since I don't seem to be irritatin' you with every word like last time."

When the door shuts and the elevator begins to move, Kain leans his back up against the wall and crosses his arms over his chest. "Yer less sandpaper an' more prickly pear," is the closest Kain is ever going to get to saying she isn't obnoxious, at least for a long time. That he's willing to admit even that much is a huge change. Brows furrowed, he stares down at the floor.

"Ah' ain't a family man, in case you ain't never heard." There's a scoff at that, and Kain slowly shakes his head. "Never been much on folks that weren't me. Closest thing Ah' ever had was mah' boys Manny an' Dixon, an' Ah' ain't got Dixon anymore since he'd gone off t'focus on his family. 'Cause apparently they're important." Kain's eyes shut, shoulders shrug.

Then, after a few long moments Kain adds. "Never wanted no family either."

"Manny the guy who was watchin' your back, first time we met?" Tess asks, leaning against the wall as well, opposite him. "But yeah, I got that you weren't a family man. Not so much from what people said as just…" She trails off and shrugs. "Well, you said it enough, and you seemed to mean it. Hard to argue wants with someone when it's their wants you're talkin' about."

There's a pause, then another shrug. "Can't say it's not disappointin'. You wouldn't believe me if I did anyway. But it is your choice. I guess I figure mom knew it too, and maybe that's why she never told you 'bout me, or told me anythin' 'bout you."

"Yeah, big ol' Hills Have Eyes kinda' guy? That's Manny. King Kong, Magilla Gorilla, y'know whatever fits." There's a crack of a smile if only for a moment as Kain glances askance to Tess. "Don't get yer hopes up 'cause y'ain't bein' an insufferable brat, 'cause Ah' still don't want jack an' or shit t'do with you." But there's no vemom in that, just Kain-like matter-of-factness, which Tess will have to decipher the meaning of all on her own.

"Yer mom' didn't know any better'n you did," Kain admits in a quiet tone of voice, "Ah' only knew her for two days, whatever she told you 'bout me though was probably right. Ah' was runnin' with some bad people back then, doin' bad things. Ain't much that's changed, so…" Not even Kain is sure where he was going with that one.

Tess shakes her head. "She never told me anything about you. I asked, bunches of times, but she just refused. I only got your name'n stuff when she died. Part of her will." Then she grins. "Bad things, huh? I keep gettin' warned by this guy to avoid Staten 'cause of the bad people there. And warned away from him 'cause he does bad things." The whole thing seems to amuse her, but it's a more tame sort of amusement than usual.

"But yeah, not expectin' nothin'. More just wanted…I dunno. To get things cleared up? On both sides? Just felt like I had to try. And to apologize. 'Cause it just wasn't right pinnin' somethin' like that on you."

"Sometimes the big bad wolf's real," Kain admits with a shake of his head. "Staten Island's full've drug dealers, rapists, child molesters, terrorists… an' that ain't even bein' liberal with the descriptions. If there was ever a Sodom and Gomorrah like outta' th' Bible in th' real world? It'd be Staten fuckin' Island."

Reaching up to scrub one calloused hand over his beard, Kain finally looks up and across at Tess, if only briefly. "Ah' had a weekend with yer mom, took some time off from work. We got trashed, hit the town, Ah' ain't never seen her since. Truth be goddamned told th' only reason Ah' even remembered her name s'cause it's the same as somebody mah' grandfather used t'talk about. Mah gran'pappy was a soldier in World War II, hard as nails fucker he was. Drank himself t'death, but always told the same story 'bout this Winslow guy who saved his ass durin' th' war."

Kain shrugs, eyes shut. "Stuck with me as a kid, s'why Ah' remembered yer momma's name."

Tess continues to look mildly amused as Kain goes on about the dangers of Staten. "Yeah, so he told me. It's why I had to promise not to go there without him or someone else with me. Last time I was out there, he got between this thug'n me."

But then the rest of what he said catches up with her drug addled brain. "Winslow? You know the guy's first name? It'd be freakin' cool if it ended up bein' like mom's dad or granddad or somethin'." There's a long pause, then, "I've got mom's last name, of course. Since she wouldn't tell me your name. Though guess that's best anyway. Less complicated."

Kain's answer is a slow shake of his head. "Nah, barely even remember the stories. Ain't never been one t'hang on t'shit from mah childhood, 'cept for that." Reaching up to rake his fingers back through his hair, Kain's blue eyes track up to the indicator of how much further they have to go. Right around the same time the elevator is coming to a stop on the penthouse level. As the doors rush open, Kain leans off of the wall and steps out ahead of Tess into the penthouse lobby.

The elevator empties out into a wide but short room divided in half by a wall of reinforced security glass with a frosted exterior. A card key reader is set into the glass wall next to a door that rests flush with the glass wall, made from the same smooth frosted glass.

"Security up top ain't nothin' t'sneeze at," Kain admits as he withdraws a proximity card from his suit jacket, swiping it by the reader to make a red light turn green, and the door to pop open on automatic hinges, hissing as it pops inward and then slides flush along the interior wall.

Kain's apartment is spacious, open and largely bright. While sunset light shines through the floor-to-ceiling windows that dominate two sides of the room that he and Tess are entering, the white color of the floor, ceiling and leather furniture adds to the overall brightness. An open-concept kitchen and bar is just to the left on coming in, stools set up around an island stocked with bottles of alcohol.

"Go'n an take a seat on the couch," Kain says with a wave of his hand towards the elevated area where a white sofa and recliner are arranged around a glass top table. "Ah'll be right back," he hastily notes, headed towards a hallway that likely leads to a bathroom.

He's followed out, and the mention of security has Tess smiling. Good thing she didn't try to sneak up here. As she moves towards the sofa she unzips her coat and shrugs it off, nodding. "All right. And hey, if this Winslow guy saved your grandfather, there might be somethin' 'bout it somewhere." And you can be damn sure she'll be scouring the net later. It's too juicy a tidbit to pass up.

But for now she sits with a soft sigh of relief to be off her feet, and takes the time that he's gone to look around, itching to grab her camera and take some shots of it. But, as with so many impulses tonight, it's curbed. She really can behave!

"Ah' don't care 'bout it that much, ain't nothin' a bunch'a dead people matter t'me." On his way down the hallway, Kain stops at a door and pushes it open, disappearing into an adjacent room while Tess gets comfortable on the sofa. A split second later, Kain is backing out of the room with both his hands held up at his side and eyes wide.

Following Kain out of the room is a .357 Magnum held fast in the hands of a tall man likely Kain's age in a long, black wool coat. His curly red hair is cropped short to his head, blue eyes flicking towards the living room as he presses the barrel of the gun to Kain's head. "Good evenin' Kain, 'ow've you been? Business good?"

"Wals— " Kain is interrupted by being smacked in the cheek by the butt of the handgun, sending him slouching down onto one knee in the hall.

"Go sit th' fuck down on the sofa with yer little slut, Zarek." At that the Irishman turns and aims the gun into the living room. "Don' you get any ideas either, sweet'eart. This business is between Kain n'me."

It's when Kain is hit with the gun that Tess glances over and realizes that something is Very Wrong. "Hey! I don't care if it is between you'n him, don't go hittin' him or shootin' him!" she says, even weed unable to keep her from getting angry on Kain's behalf. "And you are so not allowed to call me sweetheart," she adds, glancing to Kain, sympathy showing in her eyes. Along with a little fear. "You okay?" she asks softly.

A gunshot is Walsh's answer to Tess, a loud report of a .357 fired into the sofa right at her side, inches from where she's seated. Kain lifts up a hand towards Tess, trying to warn her from mouthing off, but Walsh does his own rendition of a warning in kicking Kain in the stomach while he's on his hands and knees.

"She talks again, bullet in'na gun, Kain. Have fun explainin' a dead hooker." Doubled over on his side as Walsh berates him, Kain sucks in a sharp breath and barely manages to push himself away on his hands and knees until he gets up to his feet, looking back with furrowed brows and narrowed blue eyes at the Irishman's approach.

Following behind Kain, Danny Walsh keeps his handgun trained on Kain. "Y'know before Daniel Linderman 'ad more problems than e'ad money, 'd never'v been able t'get into a place like this with just m'badge." Walsh's eyes narrow as he looks from Kain to Tess and back again. "Never much took y'for a pedophile, Zarek. Not much'f a surprise a'guess."

Forcing himself to take the verbal abuse for the sake of not letting Walsh know one very dangerous secret, Kain crawls up onto the sofa at Tess' side, one arm wound around his stomach. "Kain, yer a right brave motherfucker, y'know tha'? Y'know tha' sellin' guns on Staten Island's my business now. Espenosa and 'is men'r my clients, not yours y'greedy fuck." Gun trained on Kain, Walsh lets his lips sag down into a frown.

"What d'y want, Walsh? Money? Guns? Th' fuck you come all the way up here t'kick mah ass for?" Blood is running from a split on Kain's cheek where a bruise is already blossoming. Walsh's answer is a breathy laugh and a waggle of the gun in Kain's direction.

"A warnin', this time. Next time y'fuck with me an' my operation m'gonna put a fuckin' hole in yer fuckin' fore'ead, Zarek. I don' care if yer suckin Gideon d'Sarthe's dick an' Linderman's at the same fuckin' time. Staten Island s'my island."

Though there's a little scream from Tess at the gunshot, one she does her best to keep in, she knows better than to mouth off now. The gunshot was warning enough, even if it just ruined Kain's couch and not one of her favored body parts. Meaning, any of them. She looks to Walsh, then Kain, and scoots just a little bit closer to Kain. He may not want a daughter, but dammit, right now she wants her dad!

Looking back to Walsh, she remains silent, makes herself remain calm. Or as calm as she can be when a guy is talking about illegal deals, beating her dad up, and shooting near her.

"Fine," Kain practically stammers as he offers a quick look to Tess, then back to Walsh. "Fine Ah'll back off'a Staten, but you damn well know Gideon an' his boys are gonna' knock on that door eventually. You ain't gonna' be able to hold down th' market fer long, an' when throat-cuttin' fuckers like Espenosa don't get their guns, it's gonna be you that gets fucked in the ass, Red."

Walsh's eyes narrow as Kain shows his genetic inability to keep his mouth shut. "Wrong. Answer," is Walsh's growled sentiments as he trains his gun on Kain, then quickly turns it on Tess and pulls the trigger. The noisy report of the handgun going off reverberates through the room, followed by Tess' body involuntarily curling in on itself as a bullet punches through her abdomen.

Blood wells up at Tess' shirt the moment pain explodes into her body, followed by the shakes and chill of shock setting in. "No!" Kain screams as he too late lunges for Tess, then turns his attention sharply to Walsh, who now has the gun trained on Kain.

"Belly shot, rough way t'die. Slow, fuckin' painful, terrible fuckin' pity she was cute fer one'v your girls." Walking backwards, Walsh begins headed for the door to Kain's apartment, both brows raised as Kain bolts up as if intending on just running right at the man with the gun.

But when he turns to look at Tess, he hesitates.

"Smart boy, Kain," Walsh insists with a quirk of his head to the side as he reaches the door, pressing the button that brings the glass door sliding flush against the wall. "You tell anyone it was me, Ah'll hunt y'down an' kill you like a fuckin' dog, Zarek. Y'got that?"

Tess's hands automatically move to press over her belly and she lets out a cry at the pain. After she's curled up the sound becomes a whimper, and she lifts one shaking hand, eyes wide, face pale as she stares at the blood. Eyes shift from her hand to Kain, and she stares at him for a moment. "It hurts," she whispers softly, before her bloodied hand is lowered back to her belly. You're supposed to keep pressure on things like this, right?

Maybe. Either way, it still hurts.

Kain's focus is torn between Walsh and his little girl now bleeding bright red all over his white couch. Wide-eyes sharply focus up towards Walsh as the redheaded Irishman walks backwards out of the apartment with his gun trained on Kain and brows furrowed. The crooked homicide detective tilts back his gun away from Kain by the time he's backed into the elevator, flashing a winning smile as the doors slide shut with a soft ding.

"Oh God— Jesus— fuck!" Turning from facing the door, Kain drops down onto his knees beside the sofa, watching blood drooling down between the leather cushions, smeared and smudged all over the white leather.

For the first time in a long time, Kain Zarek is paralyzed by fear.

Tess looks up to Kain when he kneels by the sofa, and even before she speaks there's a plea in her eyes. A very clear Make it better, daddy, though it isn't formed that clearly in her head. "I'm…It's not bad…right? I'm not…" She glances to the elevator, then back to Kain. "I'm not gonna die, right?" she asks quietly, keeping her hands pressed against her belly, her eyes fluttering closed.

I'm not gonna' die, right?

Those words echo like another gunshot in Kain's mind. Suddenly jolting into movement, Kain bolts up so far that he jostles the glass table backwards with a noisy rattle. "Don't— don't close yer eyes, ya— y'gotta stay awake!" Bolting over to the island where the liquor is, Kain instead grabs his cell phone and flips it open.

Frantically dialing 922, then 119, he only manages to actually get 911 on his third try of shaking hands, rushing back to Tess. "Hold on darlin', Ah'— Ah'm right here." Taking a knee beside the sofa, all Kain can see at Tess' abdomen are her hands pressed down over where blood is blossoming up from her stomach.

"Mah lil' girl's been shot!" Kain shouts into the phone the moment he hears the voice on the other end. "Kain Zarek, penthouse apartment at Dorchester Towers. There— someone broke in, shot m'girl— shot her in th' stomach jesus fuck send someone over here god damnit!"

One shaky hand reaches out to feel for where Tess' blood-soaked hands are pressed over her stomach. "No— she— she's coverin' it. Ah' don't— Ah'm not a fuckin' doctor!" Kain screams at the person on the other end of the phone. "She— she's sayin' keep pressure on it. Help's on the way, darlin', help's— help's comin'."

Reluctantly Tess opens her eyes, and though on some level she recognizes that he's not sounding or acting anything like he did the last time they talked, it's overshadowed by Walsh's words. "I'm keepin' pressure on it," she murmurs with a nod, glancing down to her hands. And now she doesn't even have the big pillowy coat to hide it with. To hide the red spreading over the grey tee-shirt. The white couch.

Slowly, green eyes clouded by pain lift to meet Kain's again. "I know you don't want…will you stay with me?" she asks softly, trying not to sound as pitiful as she feels right now.

Eyes wide, staring down at the young blonde woman that has haunted him since the day she first showed up, Kain shakes his head as tears well up in his eyes, throat works up and down slowly in a dry swallow. "Ah' ain't goin' nowhere…" Kain shakily informs his daughter as he lays one hand on top of her bloodied hand. "Where th' hell's the ambulance!?" is screamed into the phone immediately afterward.

On touching Tess' hand, however, Kain's brows furrow and a look of confusion crosses his face. Lips parting, Kain pulls back his hand as stringy tendrils of something sticky hang away from his fingers like sagging strands of glistening thread.

"Wh— at th' f— " Staring down at Tess' hand, Kain's jaw trembles and he just— sets down the phone and reaches back to Tess' hands. Taking a hold of her right hand, Kain tries to move it away from her abdomen but fails to be able to, causing a shriek of pain from the blonde.

Stringing down from where her face pulls away from the couch, sticky threads of some viscous fluid that is not blood hangs from the side of her cheek like glue. Portions of Tess' clothes cling to her body, wetly, and beneath her hands at the gunshot wound, a lumpy scab-like crust of something resembling crystallized sugar has scabbed over her wound and also glued her hands to her stomach.

Tess's lower lip is bitten in an attempt to muffle the shriek, not that it does much good. She bites harder as she tries to move her hand, and though she was already scared because of the whole being shot thing, this is just freaking her the fuck out. "D-dad? What's goin' on? I can't move my hands. I can't move them! They're stuck, what did he do to me?" she asks, voice growing a bit more hysterical and less pained.

That's the bad thing about ignoring the Unmanifested on your registration card and believing that you're an empath. When you really manifest you tend to believe other options before going for the most logical, if bizarre, one.

Panic only makes things worse, when the fear sets in and adrenaline continues to course through her body, Tess begins to find that whatever is sticking her hands together is now glistening like a sheen of sweat over all of her exposed skin. Strangely, when Tess' eyes shut, her eyelids manage not to seal themselves shut, in fact they have no trouble opening and closing, nor does her mouth.

But her body, she can feel like she's covered in sticky slime, gluing herself to the couch, but nothing — nothing like what has crystallized over her abdominal wound by her hands. Remarkably though, the crusty and off-white scab that has formed over her gunshot wound has staunched the bleeding entirely, save for internally.

"Ah'— He shot you. What— " Kain is now looking at his own hands, but no, this was happening before he touched Tess, and he's taken the blood test — he's negative.

"You're— holy shit— holy shit." She did have a Registry card, but damn if Kain Zarek thought to look at what her ability was when he was trying to pay her out of his life.

"Holy shit you're a fuckin' glue factory," Kain breathes out as he looks down to his hand, then to Tess as she continues to adhere herself to his sofa.


For a minute that's all Tess can say, or shriek, rather, then she shakes her head, trying to remove her hands without causing herself too much pain. "No, it can't be me. It can't be me. I'm an empath! They said I wasn't, but I knew I was. I can't get my hands off of my belly. I've got stuff…it's all over me. I don't like this. Get it off. Get it off," she says, breathing entirely too quickly for her own good right now.

Shock finally bleeds away into something more personal, something more devoted and intent. Kain used to be quicker on his feet, quicker to think than to act. Snapping his cell phone shut and cutting off the woman on the other end, he knows he needn't stay on the line to ensure that help eventually arrives.

"Calm down, c'mon— calm down…" There's a moment where he thinks that mantra might be more for him than anyone else. But in the end, all Kain can do is reassure himself that it's for her and nothing else. "Yer gonna' be a'right, c'mon look it— it's stopped th' bleedin'."

Kain's hand hovers tentatively over Tess', but doesn't quite make contact. "Jesus Christ, yer sweatin' cement outta' yer skin…" Looking around for something to cover his hands in, Kain finds nothing. By now, much of the gluey substance that Tess has exuded is affixing her to the couch cushions. While pain from her gunshot wound is hot, deep and agonizing, she isn't bleeding out any more, just internally.

"Ambulance is on the way, girl… you just— you worry 'bout stayin' awake fer me a'right? Don't— don't worry 'bout none've this, everythin'll be fine. You jus'— you go on an' keep them eyes open, a'right?"

"It can't be me though. It can't be me. I'm an empath. I am. This stuff…I…it feels so weird!" Tess says, staring down at her hands, fear making it very easy for her to keep her eyes open. Those eyes lift to Kain's once more. "I've never been shot before. I don't like it. I don't like him. I don't like this. It hurts and it's weird," she says, starting to cry now, quietly, but her frantic words are enough sound as it is.

"Just don't leave me. I don't wanna be alone. I hate hospitals. I hate 'em. Please stay with me. Make them get this stuff offa me. Please?" she begs, having zero shame right now. At least not in front of him.

"Ah' ain't goin' nowhere, an' Ah'll stick with you in th' hospital s'long as the doctors let me…" Kneeling by the side of the sofa, Kain hesitantly reaches out towards Tess, his hand hovering over her brows before his fingers curl closed against his palm. Blue eyes shut and Kain's head tilts down in a rueful expression.

"S'why Ah' didn't want you n mah life…" he murmurs, blue eyes opening slowly. "Ah've got me a dangerous life… bound t'get more dangerous, an'— an' it ain't fair fer you t'suffer 'cause'v the shit decisions Ah've made." Throat tightening, Kain offers a slow shake of his head and a tremor in his jaw.

"Ah' wanted you t'have a different life than me." Blue eyes fall shut, and Kain exhales a breathy laugh. "Even if there ain't nobody in the world who'd think you were a damn empath. Unless it's the worst empath in th' whole damn world."

Fear and pain or no, Tess has to give a little laugh, though both emotions sound in it. "Hey, I figured out how to not get kicked out, didn't I?" She glances towards the door, then to all the red around her. "I…yeah, this isn't fun. I really want a shot of some really good fuckin' drugs right now. But if you're hopin' this'll scare me off…" She shakes her head. "I don't wanna be alone again," she whispers, trying to lift a hand to reach for him, only to wince and make a small sound when she's reminded that her hand is glued to her stomach.

"Where the hell's that ambulance, they've got drugs in those things, right? This is worse'n the ankle by like, a whole lot. I wanna hurt that guy. Can I hurt him? Why'd he shoot me?" she asks, looking to him, frowning, eyes questioning.

Looking repeatedly like he wants to lay a hand on Tess' forehead, Kain keeps curling his fingers against his palm, unable to actually touch her for fear of gluing himself to her like she has to the sofa. It's strange, the things he's seen and the scenarios he's been involved in. This one, more so than so many others, just seems preposterous.

The last time someone had the compunction to die in his apartment, they slept-walked off the balcony first at least.

"Jus' keep talkin'," he asks of her as if that would ever be a problem, "an' th' ambulance'll be here soon." Hopefully before she dies from the internal bleeding like she would have the external. Swallowing nrvously on that thought, Kain watches Tess with a worried, pained expression spread acros shis scruffy face.

"Don't you worry about nothin' other'n stayin' awake right now. You ain't gonna' do nothin' t'Walsh. He's a goddamned cop, Tess. He's a crooke dcop that runs guns an' there ain't no gettin' t'him that won't wind up w'you in a body bag." Kain's brows furrow, jaw set tightly, and head shakes from side to side.

"Sometimes y'just gotta' take yer licks, an' keep on movin'."

"No hurtin' him. Got it," Tess murmurs, shifting a bit, or trying to, which brings another wince. There's a long moment where she's silent, then she gives him a wondering look. "You protected me. Not correctin' him 'bout me bein' a hoochie. Tryin' to prevent…" What ended up happening anyway.

Forcing her mind away from that, she keeps her eyes away from her stomach, away from the red and white couch. Which just prompts her to say, in a small voice, "Sorry about the sofa."

"S'olright," Kain murmurs and a tight swallow, his eyes reddened around the edges and glassy. "Ah' never liked it much anyway. So…" he manages a crooked smile and a hoarse laugh, "yer lucky this time."

Eventually the distant sound of sirens will come to haunt the penthouse of Dorchester Towers, paramedics will come to cut Tess away from the sofa, call in that they have a newly manifested Evolved to bring in to the ER. Hours will be spent trying to figure out what happened, and in hours time the bonds of whatever adhesive that Tess had secreted in her panicked state will begin to break down. Glue will crumble, blood will flow, and in surgery Tess will find a second lease on a life she didn't even know she had.

Out in the hospital's waiting room, Kain Zarek lingers in wait for his daughter's condition. Lingers in realization that the life he is leading will soon inexorably draw her down a dangerous, bloodied path whether she wants it or not. Kain Zarek has lived a dangerous life, and the old addage goes that those who live by the gun, will die by the gun.

Now that he has something to live for, that was never more terrifying.

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