An Unexpected Conversation


kaylee6_icon.gif chess4_icon.gif

Scene Title An Unexpected Conversation
Synopsis Kaylee's hope of getting to know Chess does not go exactly how she planned.
Date November 22, 2020

“Chess. Right?”

It had taken some waiting, but Kaylee Thatcher’s patience had paid off finally. Not too far from the entrance to the Deveaux Society building was a small cafe. While it did most of its business in the warmer months, it still managed to draw patrons to the warmth of its small indoor seating area. This is where Kaylee would camp out on days where she could get away, at a small table by the window watching the building across the way.

Okay, so it could be considered a bit stalkerish. Kaylee will worry about that later.

Chess is offered a nervous smile, just visible over the burgundy red scarf she was wearing. While Chess was familiar to her, the blonde wasn’t sure if Chess was familiar to her. “Sorry, to show up like this, but…” then it hits Kaylee, “wow… you look just like Kimberly.” One side of her mouth tugs up a bit higher on one side. “Or she looks like you.”

The owner of the name is looking at her phone as she comes through the door, and it takes her a moment to find the source of the voice. Her smile is merely polite for a moment — she’s been recognized in the past, thanks to Lanhua and the footage from Detroit, and the reception isn’t always a welcoming one.

When she finds Kaylee, it takes a moment to connect the face with an identity. Raytech. Luther’s friend. Kaylee.

Her smile grows a little less polite and more personal, if a bit tentative. “Nonuplets, so that tracks,” she says lightly. It’s not biologically accurate, really, but clone isn’t a word she drops lightly. “Kaylee, right? I’m sorry about what happened in February. You’re okay now?”

“More or less, yeah,” Kaylee says with a small nod, not wanting to go into everything that’s happened since that day out on the ocean. It's been a lot.

Motioning to the woman before her, Kaylee sounds genuine when she says in return, “I’m glad to see you’re doing alright after what happened in October. I heard about it beyond what the news mentioned,” there is a wince since the media tends to manipulate facts for a better story. “I know Luther was beside himself after… “ She died. She shakes her head and offers a smile, stopping herself from continuing a rather horrible subject.

“That’s not important. I’m just… I'm just glad to meet the young woman that I always hear about.” Kaylee offers Chess an awkward and rather nervous smile. Maybe this was a bad idea? Did she overstep?

Kaylee might be losing her nerve a bit. “Ah.. Luther had meant to introduce us at the gala, but someone decided to ruin the evening.” Her mouth pulls to one side in a ‘go figure’ expression.

Glancing at the counter, then back to Kaylee, Chess gives up the dream of coffee for the moment and moves to take a seat at the table, brows lifting as she tugs on the chair to be sure she’s welcome.

She chooses to ignore the mention of that night in October, but focuses instead on the present. “It’s nice to meet you, too,” she says, and it seems sincere if a little awkward; she’s not as used to making small talk with strangers as some, given so many years of solitude followed by her time in hiding.

“Yeah, I guess I missed the excitement. I left before all that happened, so I wouldn’t have been there even if plant thieves?” Chess’ words lilt upward into a question and disbelief, “hadn’t ruined everything. I’d say I’m glad I left early, but.” She lifts a shoulder and glances away, through the window.

There is a nod and a gesture for her to sit, with a soft “please” in there as Kaylee.

“Definitely be glad you left,” Kaylee says with a flat, yet amused tone. “I ruined a perfectly good rental dress, cause my drunk ass decided to tackle someone with a gun,” she says with a grimace with embarrassment at her actions. “My fault for drinking for the first time in like..” how old was she? “wow…30 years?”

Kaylee instantly feels old.

“Luther was a godsend that night, got me home in one piece,” Kaylee says with fondness and a smidge of regret that he had to do that at all and maybe that’s she telling the younger woman so much.

“Sorry,” Kaylee suddenly says with a pained look and a crooked smile. Fingers fidget with the edge of a napkin, even if her focus is on Chess. “I don’t usually do this… especially without my ability. It used to ground me and give me confidence.”

“I don’t think I’ve gone a day without drinking since February,” Chess says wryly, but she quiets as Kaylee talks, then tips her head at the apology as her brows lift.

“Sorry for? Do what?” she asks, a little nonplussed, but she lifts one hand to brush off the apology. She’s about to speak again when one of the employees brings her a to-go cup, clearly knowing her order by heart for how often Chess goes to the little cafe.

She looks up, a surprised smile of appreciation breaking through the confused look of a moment before, and she reaches into her pocket to pull out a bill that will cover the expense of the beverage.

Turning back to Kaylee, she lifts the cup slightly. “Thank God for coffee,” she murmurs, taking a sip, then returning her focus to the other woman. “You lost your ability? Back in February?” Many strange things transpired on and after that day, including people getting second abilities and SLC-N suddenly manifesting, and she assumes it might have been because of that.

There is a flush that warms Kaylee’s cheeks at Chess’ confusion, “Sorr—” she stops herself again and gives a huff of self-deprecating amusement. She stays quiet as the coffee is delivered to her.

“February was a horror show, but no… I… had my ability stripped sometime in July,” Kaylee explains after they are left alone again. Her attention drops to the formica top of the little cafe table, “Went to bed one night aaand… well, I woke up in a coffin in the middle of a burning field of plane wreckage.”

Looking back up at Chess with an empty look, Kaylee’s shoulder twitches a little in a shrug, “No more telepathy. Been struggling to find out what happened to me since.” Her head tips to one side a little, “I’m surprised Castle hasn’t mentioned it… the crash that is. He’s been one of the Agents helping on my case.”

Kaylee gives a small chuckle. “Or Luther, really.” There is that fondness again, “Though with the way that man compartmentalizes his life… ” She doesn’t really finish that thought, assuming Chess knows how he is.

“Shit. I’m sorry. I heard about that, but I didn’t realize it was you. We were looking into some aspects of it over at Deveaux, but I never saw the manifest. I was mostly just following some paper trails that didn’t get very far,” Chess says, before her eyes narrow a little at the mention of Castle.

“We didn’t talk much about his work, but I haven’t seen him since the fourth.”

Oddly specific, and if that’s telling in any way, Chess doesn’t seem to notice, breezing past it a little too quickly to be natural. “Luther,” her smile returns a little, and she lifts her shoulders, before taking a sip of coffee. “My guess is he figures it’s your business and not mine.”

Her brows draw together and she forces a larger smile. “That sounds rude. I don’t mean it like that. I just mean he isn’t the type to share things unless there’s a reason someone needs to know. Anyway.”

She shakes her head, rolling her eyes with a small laugh at her own expense. “I hate to say it, and not to be mean, but I’m kinda glad you don’t have your ability, because my head these days is a bit of a mess.”

Kaylee can’t help but laugh even though talking about her ability brings an edge of sadness to it, “You and just about everyone. People actually talk to me now,” she says with a roll of her eyes. “To be fair, I wouldn’t really hear anything. I keep pretty thick mental walls.” There is a small shrug, “Most I would have heard was a hum, like voices through a motel wall.”

Her hands pull apart in a ‘there you have it’ sort of way. “Luther can vouch for me.”

A cheeky flash of a smile she adds, “I’m a telepath with morales, much to my brother’s dismay. Not to say that if I have a reason, I wouldn’t use it… but with friends and people who trust me, I keep those walls thick.” Never the trusting ones.

“Though it might not matter in the end,” Kaylee says with a sudden fading of her smile, “But.. just in case there is… you know… a miracle.” As it is, she wasn’t sure she was even a real person.

Kaylee’s words draw a wry smile from Chess, something apologetic in it, though she doesn’t apologize a second time. She lifts her shoulders again. “There’s a reason we have the abilities we do. We can choose to do good with them, and I’m sure you use yours accordingly. I can’t say I’ve never made mistakes with mine, and, well. The mistakes with mine aren’t very easily covered up or fixed, most of the time.”

She takes a sip of the coffee, then gestures to her head with a vague swirl motion. “I’ve been told mine’s a little hard to get into. ‘Fuzzy,’ was his description. I think it might be the kinetic energy and stuff. It’s not impossible but maybe harder than the average person. I haven’t really tested it out, though. There’s a lot in there I don’t really want people looking at — not that you would.”

Setting the cup of coffee down, Chess fiddles with the plastic lid — she seems to need something to do with her hands. “I’ve met your brothers. Well, kind of. I met with Richard later to debrief a bit, I guess. They both seem nice. You’re all very different.”

“We are pretty different,” Kaylee acknowledges with an uneasy chuckle. “Different upbringings, same absentee father.” There is an upward twitch of her shoulders, like it’s no big deal. “I didn’t know I had a family until ten years ago. It’s… been an adjustment.” Especially, where Warren was concerned.

“And trust me,” Kaylee says without pride, “I've had my fair share of questionable choices with my ability,” she admits. “Most of it in my youth, the worst of it when I worked for Adam Monroe.”

Kaylee shakes her head and chuckles, “Doesn't matter though, since I don’t have it anymore.”

Leaning forward a bit, Kaylee wraps her hands around her cup, though mostly for something to do, the coffee has gone cold. “So… I have to admit I'm curious. How did you and Luther end up finding each other? Like you said before, he doesn't really go into things. I’ve been really trying to get to know him outside of his work at Raytech.”

“I didn't even know about you until Luther called me from Japan,” Kaylee explains.

The comment on finding long-lost family draws a small huff of a laugh from Chess. “I can relate,” she murmurs. Except for the part where the Rays seemed to have managed a happier reunion than she and her sisters — that part she doesn’t say aloud.

The smile slips a little at the mention of Adam Monroe, so fittingly close to the talk of absentee fathers, and Chess looks out the window, thumbnail snapping lightly against the lid of the coffee. She presses her lips together, before turning back. The question that Kaylee’s asked her is slow to register, and she shakes her head a little.

“Sorry, what?” she asks, but then the question clicks into place. “Oh. We were in the war together. Somewhere between Kansas and West Virginia? I honestly forget exactly where. It’s all a bit of a blur. I met Monica at the same time.”

“Eve, too, I imagine,” Kaylee says with a touch of fondness for the former seer.

Though Kaylee’s smile fades a little at the edges, having noted the change in mood. “Are… are you okay? Was it something…” then it clicks what she said and what might have caused the shift. A hand quickly covers her mouth and she looks horrified at herself.

“Shit,” Kaylee hisses behind her fingers.

“I’m sorry, Chess,” Kaylee offers sincerely, when she finally pulls her hand away. Shaking her head, Kaylee looks down at her reflection in the cup. “I’m an idiot… I got carried away talking and I didn’t even think about what I was saying.” It’s obvious that the former telepath is beating herself over mentioning the other woman’s father.

The mention of Eve evokes a small smile from Chess that’s a little sad, and she’s about to say more when Kaylee suddenly cuts herself short and swears. She looks back at the former telepath, and her eyes widen a little.

“It’s fine,” she says quickly, though it comes off terse, when Kaylee apologizes. It doesn’t sound fine, and Chess is too aware of that. She looks down at her own coffee, picking it up to take a sip, buying some time before she speaks again.

“You have every right to talk about things in your past. We just happen to share that particular mistake in common, I guess.” Her dark eyes return to Kaylee’s face. “I’m not sentimental about him or anything. I know what he is. But,” she rubs away some of the lip gloss left on the lip of the coffee lid, before looking up again, “if you get word of where he is — I don’t know if you’re all on LinkedIn or something?” That might be a little bit of a joke from the younger woman. “Let me know, yeah?”

Kaylee can’t help but give a cuckle at the mention of LinkedIn, though she still looks like she feels like a heel. “Somehow, I think we have a lot more in common when it comes to our fathers, then we think. Not that I’d ever wish this all on anyone… but I have a feeling it’s helped make us stronger women.” The crooked smile she offers the other woman is apologetic. She was sympathetic to the other woman’s plight.

“Anyhow, I promise, if I find out anything, I’ll let you know,” Kaylee says, not that she thinks the man… or whatever he was now… will ever seek her out. “If anyone deserves to know it’s his kids.” That she feels strongly about.

Both hands go back to gripping the cup as she ventures forth with, “And like Jac, If you want it, I’ll forward my research and what I get as I get it. I’ve been researching that thing he was attempting to stop and Adam’s in most of what I have so far.”

Looking away to a point outside the window, Kaylee debates with herself in silence before she offers, “And.. for the record, I truly believe the Entity and the Company destroyed him. I met him,” her blue eyed gaze turns back to the woman across from her, offering her a sad smile, “before all of that happened. Before the German’s got to him he was…. He was a totally different person.”

Chess’ brows draw together and she listens, then lifts a hand as if to tell Kaylee to stop, her head shaking. “You don’t need to defend him. He’s a human being and so he’s inherently a complex sum of a lot of parts, and he has more of those than most people.” She huffs a short laugh that doesn’t reach her eyes at the unintentional double meaning. “Both because he has clones and because he’s lived too many fucking lifetimes.”

Lifting the coffee cup, she takes a sip. “Secondly, I don’t give a shit about who he was when. He knew enough to say he regretted the things he did in the past, and yet still…” Her lips press together and she takes a breath, focusing on Kaylee when she releases it.

“He’s not my father. Just some DNA taken without his knowledge. My sisters and me — we were never more than tools, weapons, in his hands, just as we were designed to be. And we failed and we broke, just like his sword,” Chess murmurs.

Her shoulder lifts. “But sure, send the research.” She takes another sip of coffee and hufs another of those soft laughs. “Luther should have warned you I’m not good with people. Sorry.” She actually looks a little contrite, her gaze dropping for a moment.

“Clearly, Luther didn’t tell you I’m not easily scared away,” Kaylee comments with only a touch of amusement. “I know plenty of people who are horrible with people and you are nothing like them.” She even offers a smile of reassurance. If she is insulted or bothered by what Chess says, it doesn’t show.

“I’m not defending what Adam's done… that whole thing in Detroit is inexcusable.” Kaylee explains giving her an apologetic look, “Even if he thought it was the right thing… “ She’s heard.

Kaylee swallows and looks down at her mug, “Edward Ray, my father, has done some… horrible things… And he might as well have been considered just a donor. He abandoned me and mother because of his ability and what it told him. One given to him by the Entity… just like it gave Adam his.”

Brows furrow as Kaylee casts her memory back to what little she knows, “I have almost no memory of him, my mom lied about who he was… and the one memory I did have, he pretty much looked at me like a monster. Admittedly, everything he’s done was in the name of his kids.

“I hate my father for it and everything he’s done,” Kaylee explains.

“But I have found that I still want to learn about him. That is the only reason I offered what I have.” She gives a small shrug. “DNA donor or not, sometimes it’s good to know where you came from so that you don’t repeat the mistakes they made. I, personally, have to fight everyday to show that not every Ray Sibling is meant to do bad things…” Richard and Warren are not the only one that have to fight the stigma of what they have done for their father. “It’s part of the reason I’m the only one of my siblings not to take Edward’s name.”

Sitting quietly, Chess adopts a little bit of the posture of a teenager being told stories by a parent that they’re not interested in listening. Her gaze moves to the window as Kaylee speaks, and she taps her fingers against the sleeve of the coffee cup a couple of times. Finally she huffs another breathy laugh out. “Yeah, I won’t be changing mine to Monroe any time soon.”

Still, something of the conversation catches and hooks in, like a spiked seed pod on a hiker’s sock. “I have. Learned from his mistakes. At least I hope,” Chess says, a little uncertain as she looks down at the cup in front of her again.

She looks up, her dark eyes solemn. “It wanted my help. Tried to bargain with me like it did with him, but I said no.” Her words are quiet, matter-of-fact now, telling in their lack of emotion, like she’s trying to keep it in check. “Did it bargain with your father too?”

“I…” Kaylee starts, but hesitates to answers. Instead of a yes, she offers a quiet, “I think so.”

Brows furrow and she takes a breath, “I was told once that it gave my father his gift.” Kaylee swallows hard on her emotions, still raw from those memories of the nightmare and the snake. “I don’t know what my father leveraged for it to give him the ability or it manipulated him without him knowing, but… my father has only been motivated by one thing and that’s his kids.” She grimaces, cause she knows it’s probably not the same for Chess’ father.

Adam was always a selfish bastard.

“Edward Ray was a probability manipulator,” she says bitterly. Kaylee hated his ability… so… much. “I imagine he saw it as a win/win arrangement. He’d do what it wanted and in returned he could protect his family against what was to come.”

Kaylaee shakes her head, “I guess this is why I’m trying to figure this thing out… not just because I want to destroy it. I need to know why and what it needed from my father… and why I feel strongly connected to it.“ She gives a bitter laugh, “It’s about impossible with him gone.”

“Be careful.”

Chess’ words come quick and urgent. “I wanted to stop it, and it almost destroyed me. I lost four sisters that day. I almost lost Jac, and I may as well have lost the others. I don’t know why it wanted me to help it, but it found my weakness, and it almost had me.” Her eyes well up with tears and she shakes her head, looking up at the ceiling and blinking to beat them back down and keep them from falling.

“I don’t know if it’s true talking about it, knowing about it makes it stronger. Adam thought it did. So did Kam Nisatta.” Chess looks back to Kaylee, a tear slipping down her cheek beside her efforts to restrain them.

“Don’t make yourself a target for it. Eve was drawn to it, too. And I had to kill her,” she murmurs, picking up her coffee cup and rising from her chair. “I should get back to work.”

“It’s too late for that,” Kaylee says quickly, reaching out to touch her arm to slow down her exit. “It knows I’m here… I lived with a part of it in my head for… ten years, maybe more. I….” Kaylee’s voice catches, forcing her to clear it. “It was a part of me… maybe still is.” She lets out a flustered breath. “I don’t know.”

Letting her hand drop, Kaylee’s voice sounds pained, “I can’t give up. If the visions I’ve seen and what Eve said is true…” She gives the woman a haunted look, “I have a son, Chess. I can’t let this thing destroy the world.”

She’ll feel horrible about all this for a while. Pulling a slip of paper out of her pocket she offers it to Chess. “I didn’t intend for the conversation to go this way. I honest to God just wanted to meet you and get a peek at a side of his life I’ve yet to see.” She means it.

It was a piece of paper, slightly worn and rumpled, but with a phone number on it. “I.. I hope your day gets better. It was nice meeting you and I can see why Luther cares about you.” Her hands wrap back around her cup and offer her a strained, yet genuine smile. “If you ever need anything, even just to talk, I’m a call away.”

At Kaylee’s touch, Chess’ arm twitches a little, tension taking hold of her posture immediately, but she doesn’t pull away — or worse. She reaches for the slip of paper, staring down at it for a slow moment like she can’t quite figure out what it’s for. Finally this is slid into her own back pocket — possibly a good sign.

“I understand wanting to stop it,” Chess says quietly. “I haven’t given up on that yet myself, even if I’ve been told there’s not much hope.” She presses her lips together, but her dark eyes grow a little glassy. She manages to blink the tears away this time, at least.

Tossing her hair back from her face, she takes a deep breath. “I’m at the Clocktower. Call me next time you want coffee, instead, yeah?” She smiles though, and it seems sincere, despite the subtle reprimand. “How many days have you had coffee here?” she wonders idly, before turning to go.

Kaylee doesn’t really answer her, just offers a rather mischievous smile. There is no move to leave herself, giving Chess time to get away. It isn’t until the young woman crosses the road that Kaylee whispers with a soft chuckle…

“Too many”

Pushing the cold cup away, she finally gets ready to leave. Pausing to glance back out, Chess is already lost in the crowd. The satisfied smile she has, pulls to one side as she considers the conversation. They hadn’t even touched on a conversation about Agent Castle like she’d hoped.. Oh well….

“It was still totally worth it.”

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