Collateral Beauty


bf_kaylee_icon.gif bf_luther2_icon.gif

Scene Title Collateral Beauty
Synopsis "Love. Time. Death. Let's begin there."
Date April 2012 to November 2014


April 2012 "No Comment"
June 2012 "Held Up"
October 2012 "The Joy of Cooking"
December 2012 "Unity Park Central Ice Rink"
March 2013 "Suits and Settlements"
April 2013 "NYPD Foundation and UEO Association Gala"
June 2013 "Trenton"
July 2013 "Finding Jojo"
September 2014 "Telepathy Is Useless (Against A Cold)"
November 2014 "The Case of Elisabeth Harrison"

April 8, 2012

"No Comment"

Previous events have been playing nonstop on local and national news. Video footage of the mad chase through Midtown has been making the rounds, sent in from security camera footage caught out on the street, from cellphones of bystanders selling to the media outlets, from nearby workers or residents who happened to lean out of their windows and balconies at just the right moment. So many people, talking heads, witnesses, have been also making the news and late night circuit to talk about Frontline, the NYPD, and just who is April Bradley (as ID’d by several sources as a highly wanted person of interest to the law). The television is on, but set to a low, barely audible volume even as the images of a commercial flash over the screen in between news segments.

All of this to say that Luther has been watching Kaylee’s still relatively new detective career ratchet up with a considerable amount of attention, even though she’s been spared the full gamut. It’s mainly the more dedicated news outlets seeking comment who have managed to find her number, and short of being threatened with harrassment, they haven’t really stopped calling.

In between the calls, Luther endures in silence as he sits on the couch, attempting to be patient every time Kaylee has to get up to answer. But at least the man’s got nowhere to be, for the moment, except to be waiting when the woman returns.

There is a heavy sigh from over by the house phone, eyes rolled ceiling ward as she endures the voice on the other side of the phone. “I have no comment at this time,” Kaylee’s tone is very bland and tired, the words even sound rehearsed, “If you have any questions, please call the NYPD public relations office, they have all the information on the case, as well as any details that can be shared to the public.” She doesn’t even give them a chance to say more, punching the end button with some force.

“I am so sick of….” She lifts up the phone cradle and turns it over. “… these people calling and ruining a perfectly good night off.” The cord is expertly disconnected right as the phone starts ringing again. It cuts off quite suddenly mid ring. There is an another sigh, but this one rather satisfied at the quiet.

Of course, then her cell phone goes off. “Oh my god, people!” Kaylee snaps grabbing the phone from where it is charging. Again the sound suddenly cuts out as she powers it down and tosses it on the counter. She’d deal with it, if her bosses need her. She is sure they’d understand the need to protect her sanity.

When Kaylee finally joins him on the couch, again, she gives him an apologetic look. Tucking a foot under her, she sits half turned towards him, an arm resting across the back. “I’m sorry about this.” She clearly hadn’t expected it to be this bad.

Even the cat has disappeared somewhere to seek refuge from the nearly incessant noise. But Luther has a mildly amused smile reserved for when Kaylee’s returned to the couch after taking such exasperated actions to secure the rest of the day free from telecommunications. “You’re sure they’re not going to come through the door? They’re seeking your braaains,” teases the man with a low chuckle as he regards her eyes and the apology in them. He’s not soured yet, despite the number of interruptions they’ve had of the evening.

His body leans, sliding under the arm resting against him, as he moves position to press a little closer. Now that there’s no danger of some ringer going off, unless it’s his, he pulls in the distance between them. A hand lifts to brush one of her stray locks away from her face, the better that he can see her. “Though I’m a little afraid to think what might happen if we went out for dinner,” adds the man with a quick glance towards the door. The glance bounces back to her. “Or if you even want to move after all that running.”

She certainly didn’t have the luxury of that boosting armor to aid her pursuit. Nor to hide her face from the cameras.

“If they do come through the door, I’ll just make sure to push you in front of me,” Kaylee teases lightly with a brightening smile. Giving him an appraising look from head to toe, her head nods in agreement to some unspoken thought. “Oh yeah, big guy like you, I doubt they’d have a chance. Pretty sure they would turn and run.”

There is a shy dip of her head, eyes dropping away at the brush of her hair. “I’m kinda afraid to step out as well.”

Kaylee makes a show of flexing that one jean clad leg as if testing it for level of soreness. There is a touch of mock seriousness as she does it. “I mean… legs are good. I do work out after all.” The telepath leans in a little as well, fingers playing lightly with the collar of his shirt, following the line of it thoughtfully. “But I admit, the idea of ordering in sounds lovely right now.”

There is a slight wrinkling of her nose, “I really don’t want the rest of the evening ruined by people.” Blue eyes, finally rise to meet stormy ones, a brow lifting and a smug smile pulling at the corner of her lips. “Somehow, I don’t think you were really wanting to leave here anyhow.”

Luther twists a wry grin to her tease about pushing him in front. It’s true, he’s a big guy. And there’s a way he exudes the confidence of someone who thinks he could handle a zombie horde, or possibly scare a zombie horde. “If they didn’t, I’m sure I could convince them.” Yet, there they are wondering whether or not it’s safe to step outside and face a different horde, one armed with cameras and microphones and press badges.

His eyes follow the line of her leg as she stretches it out and then up it, gaze coming to rest upon the fingers playing at his shirt collar. The wry grin tugs into something more crooked, and his gaze slides up to meet hers. “Mm, that’s going to be a bit tough on the delivery guy if you don’t want people coming up to interrupt.” Interrupt what, exactly, he doesn’t specify either. The smile pulling at her lips mirrors in his as he leans ever closer. “Hadn’t planned on it, all things considered.”

The only thing he seems to be considering at the moment, though, is the smile on her lips. Or just her lips. He reaches a hand past her to the couch arm, barring an escape if there was one to be had, as he finally closes that bit of distance to kiss her. It’s been a hectic few hours with the phone calls, but now that she’s disconnected those sources of annoyance, there’s a renewed focus on the moment without that lingering thought of whether or not the embrace will be short.

“You’re probably right,” she agrees about the delivery guy, watching the arm snake past her. Kaylee’s head turns to follow its path. When it settles on the couch arm, she hazards a hooded look back out of the corner of her eye. “I think we’ve had enough interruptions for one evening.” There’s a sense of anticipation with those words.

The telepath’s attention comes back around just in time for her lips to find his with a renewed sense of eagerness interrupted many times over before. There is still that sense of newness in the touch of her lips, with a sense of uncertainty. So early in their relationship they are still learning about the other.

Maybe it’s the warmth of him so close, but it won’t take long before her fingers are searching blindly for the best way to get that shirt off him quickly, while also trying to remember that they both need to breathe.

While her fingers work at the buttons on his shirt, he shifts on the couch and moves his hand from the couch arm to curl behind her and pull her bodily closer, not breaking away between kisses for very long. She's gotten through most of the buttons when there's suddenly a knocking at the front door. Luther barely heeds the attempted interruption, though she'll know he's noticed it, by the way his hands clutch at the back hem of her shirt and don't pull up, in the slow down and pull back of his lips from hers. His exposed chest rises and falls in shallow breaths, eyes looking at hers up close.

His head turns at the second, still polite sounding knock. "They really got some nerve in this town," utters the man, pitched almost as a growl, as his gaze returns back to Kaylee. Hands release from her shirt, and he starts unwind from her to get up. "You stay here, and I'll get the door."

Fingers pause in their work at the first knock. Really?!?

“Can’t people take a damn hint,” Kaylee hisses out in annoyance, when there is a knock. Her head falls back, so that she is sending an look at the ceiling; maybe in a silent prayer of patience. When her gaze drops back to his again, her brows tipped up in silent apology again.

All she wanted was to enjoy her day off.

Never has she been more tempted to use her ability to send someone away, though she worries that will be too suspicious. So she drops back to lean against the couch arm and offers him a smile of appreciation. Fingers find their way past the hanging fabric of his half open shirt, to the warmth of his chest, feeling the texture of his skin and the shape of the muscles beneath. Incentive maybe to be quick about it, as she offers words of encouragement, “Go get ‘em, handsome. I’ll be right here waiting.” So don’t be too long.

With purposeful movement, Luther stands. A lingering look passes over Kaylee at her encouragement, but as she implies not to spend too long, he turns and strides over to the door. He starts to rebutton his shirt, getting midway up by the time he reaches the door. A third knock gets interrupted, locks quickly undone, knob turned and hinges squeaking slightly with the suddenness of the pull.

“Yeah?” The man’s ‘greeting’ is brusque, clipped.

Clearly, whoever it is on the other side of the threshold wasn’t expecting Luther to open the door. “S-s-sorry, gotta delivery for Miss Thatcher? This is her apartment, isn’t it…” She might not see the visitor, but she can smell the pizza when the scent of it wafts into the apartment.

“Didn’t order any pizza, here.”
“No? Oh. Um. Well I… It’s already paid for.”
“Is it?”
“Er… Yes?”

“Alright.” Luther takes the pizza from the delivery boy. A hand shifts to hold the pizza box in one, the heat of it not bothering his beneath, the other starting to close the door until he stops. He looks past the other young man’s shoulder, spotting a figure there with a phone in hand. Luther leans slightly off to the side, eyes fixing on the phone, and with a slight squinting of focus on the sleek casing, wills an electrical current to pull out of him and manifest into the device.

Its owner startles as the phone zaps itself, and the fingers holding it. The journo swears, dropping the phone in surprise and it clatters to the ground, screen blacked.

Luther smirks humorlessly and turns back to the delivery boy. “Go on, get out of here. And anybody asks you to deliver pizza up here again tonight, tell ‘em to give you a couple pints of ice cream to go with it.” His free hand digs into a pocket for his wallet, and after pulling out a few bills, passes them over to the delivery boy. More than enough for the pizza and the tip. Then, finally, Luther shuts the door.

Striding back over to the coffee table and couch, Luther deposits his prize onto it and slides back onto the couch beside her. A more genuine, triumphant smile graces his features, like a very large cat bringing back a very well-earned bit to nibble on. “Now, where were we?” he teases.

There is amusement on Kaylee’s lips as she listens to the conversation between Luther and the poor delivery man… The irony of the moment not lost on her, considering the conversation moments before. The yelp turns amusement into worry, neck stretching to look over in the direction of the front door. Of course, her view of anything is blocked, by the wall.

When he returns looking rather smug and proud of himself, Kaylee can’t help but chuckle. “All hail the conquering hero.” Leaning forward, the lid of the box is lifted and the contents examined while she waits for him to settle on the couch. “At least the guy had a good taste in pizza toppings,” offers as she drops the lid and turns her attention back to him. It could have been a worse selection really.

The backs of her fingers brush along the rough stubble of his jaw, before hooking behind his neck. “Hmm… Where were we? I think…” she starts, but doesn’t finish, moving into kiss him with a little more heated enthusiasm then the last one. Shifting her position, her leg slides across his lap and settle on the other side, Luther finds himself pinned to that couch. No amount of knocking will free him.

That is probably the idea.

Finally, she leans away just enough to break the kiss, her own smug smile twisting at the corners of her mouth. “That sound about right?” she asks with a breathless and teasing tone, lips still close to his; a few locks of golden curls falling around their faces.

"I don't know. It's free pizza, not sure I could complain." Nevermind that he passed enough money to cover it earlier. They're likely not to be interrupted any time soon. Woe to the one who dares now.

Luther smiles crookedly, then the smile fades a bit into seriousness with the touch to his jaw. The enthused embrace is met with the same level of desire, made a little moreso from the latest interruption. Thus pinned, there's not even a token effort to free himself. Not yet. When she leans back he tilts his chin with a short effort to catch a peck before she speaks. With her hand behind his neck, he doesn't have very far to go. And with her remaining close, she can catch - and feel - his hands slipping around her waist to tug with more insistence at the hem of her shirt again.

“Sounds good to me,” he replies in a low rumbling tone, and then, forgetting any other thoughts in mind or worries of being interrupted again, pushes himself up a little straighter to meet her. No more words to be said on his part.

No words for either of them, only the certain awareness and allowing themselves to becoming completely lost in a rare moment of peace.

June 2012

"Held Up"

Luther had said he was on his way. Give or take the delays of public transit and ever-present New York traffic, she could expect him to be later than usual. The one thing that was consistent about living in the city, for sure. But even so, the ticking clock has passed about double the time it would take, and no text or call might be a cause for worry.

Then finally, a text comes through and it’s accompanied by a knock on the door at the same time.

Sorry, got held up.

Not directly seen through the peephole, Luther leans up against the side of the doorframe, recomposing himself with a hand pressed against the side of a throbbing head and the other holding on to a pizza box from the place not too far from her apartment. Atop it, a white plastic grocery bag from a drug store.

Who knows how many times Kaylee clicked her phone on and then off about checking the time and checking for texts. Each time she paces away from it, she checks it on the way back around. Jojo the ever helpful, has been trying to get his owner’s attention for awhile now. Twice he had retaliated against her neglect by pawing her phone off the counter and somehow still acting surprised that it happened; even having to gall to look at her like she did it.

Kaylee is in the act of picking it up again when it goes off in her hand, to be followed by the knock on the door. “Thank god,” she murmurs when she sees the text. It was still early enough in their relationship that she could worry that he found someone better… or more interesting. Or had more time.

Jojo is already sitting at the door, by time she reaches it. This close, she can hear him clearly. So there is no hesitation to open the door enough to see him. Hair a little messy, loosely braided and hanging over her shoulder. There is a smile when she opens the door, but it quickly falls away when she sees him. The door is thrown wide so that she can step out and take the box from him.

“Are you okay?” She asks with worry.

He gives the pizza box away maybe too easily. The box is made heavy by the plastic bag sitting atop it on account of there being a couple of pints of ice cream in it too. Not exactly the gourmet dinner that was going to happen when he had mentioned being free later. “Hey,” Luther eases a smile into the greeting as if trying to assuage her worry. He pushes off the doorframe, movement stiff but he’s upright.

“I’m okay,” claims the man. His appearance says otherwise with the suit he’s wearing a bit scuffed and torn in a few places. There’s a contusion on his right side of his face where he’d probably been struck by fist or blunt object, the bruise formed promising to be in want of a cold pack later. Or maybe the ice cream.

Luther and Jojo exchange a pair of looks. Jojo chirps at the man, expectantly. Then, though slow to do so, he bends down to give the cat a friendly warm-handed pat and short backscratch with his fingers. Once the man’s paid his due, the cat turns and trots back into the apartment to find a decent spot to perch on the back of the couch.

Luther straightens back up, unable to help the short grunt as he feels the pain in his side. But since Kaylee’s hands are now occupied, his are free to reach one up to brush at her cheek. “Sorry I’m late though. You got my text?” Now that she probably thinks about it, his text was maybe literal in meaning rather than vaguely apologetic.

“You look like you need to sit down,” Kaylee comments worriedly, her head tilting a little to examine the forming bruise and ignoring his question about the text. It all seems trivial to the way he looks. That he looks like that makes her head stop, especially whatever the reason could be. Moving to one side of the door she motions him in with a jerk of her head. A smile does finally reach her lips again, but it can’t dash away that worried expression. “Come on. You can tell me what happened while is get you an ice pack.”

Because of his appearance, Kaylee adds, “Call the cops maybe?” even if she is one. When he passes by her, she does take a moment to kiss his cheek and murmur, “Whatever happened, I'm just glad you are alive.” Okay doesn’t seem like the right word, really.

Kicking the door closed with a push of her foot, Kaylee hurries to put down the pizza box, deposit the ice cream in the freezer, and start hunting down what she needs to make him an ice pack.

When the man doesn’t protest but nods in agreement to sit, he does so. Although, he remains silent on the situation even as she gives her suggestion of calling the police. The kiss on his cheek is welcomed, as he turns to reciprocate. His lip feels a little swollen, but nothing that’s serious. “I’m okay, promise. Was getting used to the area… Some punks with a few pieces between ‘em thought they’d say hello,” he remarks with a walk over to the couch and lowers himself down carefully. It’s a vague description of what happened, at best. But she knows the signs of someone who’s been robbed at gunpoint. Most people aren’t as calm as Luther is after the fact. He’s also not demanding any police action about it. A sore and bruised pride, no doubt.

“Sorry about dinner,” adds Luther when he hears her moving around opening the freezer. There’s a pause as he turns to look over his shoulder and the couch in her direction. “Your fridge got an ice maker?” he asks upon a short realization that he hasn’t noticed that detail. Then again, he hasn’t been around that much to take that sort of thing in.

“Well, they better hope I don’t find them,” Kaylee growls out, he can hear the sound of a ziploc bag being opened. There could end up being police brutality if she did. The freezer door is opened again and she starts pulling out ice trays.

The question comes on the heels of her moving to the counter. “No ice maker, but plenty of ice trays. I like my iced tea,” she offers with a touch of amusement, banging the tray on the counter (probably a little harder then she needed) and giving it a deft and practiced twist. The sound startles the cat who zips into the bedroom, possibly to hide under the bed. Dumping ice into the gallon bag she shakes her head. “You should have called someone as soon as it happened.”

Finally, she’s stepping out of the kitchen, wrapping a clean blue and white plaid dish towel around the bag of ice. “Any idea what these guys looked like?” she asks as she sits on the edge of the couch and moves to gingerly press the ice to the side of his face, that worried look returning.

Jojo’s not the only one who’s startled by the bang of ice trays, as Luther sits up some more. He’s not in any position to run off to the bedroom, though there’s a duck of his head, a quick scratch of fingers against the side of his neck as he senses the tone in that growl. But the man stays put instead of retreating, gaze averting to the television screen across the way.

As she comes to sit at the edge of the couch, he turns back to her. “It was dark, happened kind of fast,” is all he admits at the moment she presses the ice pack to his face. He winces under it, but doesn’t move too much. “I, uh, might’ve gotten a couple hits in before they clocked me and took off with the money.” Luther swallows lightly, Adam’s apple bobbing. “Told the pizza guy and the bodega guy, said I’d pay ‘em back in the morning.”

He reaches up with a hand to cover the one she’s holding the ice pack with, a contrast of his warmed skin to the towel-covered cold emanating beneath her palm. “It’s not that I don’t want justice. It’s just… I’m glad I got here in one piece. More or less. And I’m sorry to have worried you. I should have called you sooner.” Luther ticks up a brow opposite the ice pack, hoping that she’s not too angry.

There isn’t an ounce of anger in the detective, at least not at him. She gently grabs his chin and turns his head a bit, before pulling the ice away to get a better look at the injury. As blue eyes study the discoloration, her brows tip-up in sympathy. “You better hope you don’t have a concussion. Should have a doctor check you out. Where else does it hurt?” Now she might be fussing a bit, as the question comes tumbling out.

“I’ll have them do extra patrols in the area, at least,” Kaylee decides, being a little stubborn. The ice pack is placed again, as her eyes find his. Not ready to give it up, preferring to take care of him herself. “And yes, you should have called me sooner. I was starting to think you blew this off… that maybe, you found someone else.” Someone better, is what she is thinking. Things were still new enough that she can’t help but think about that. Still felt surreal half the time.

Kaylee offers a gentle smile, her free hand brushes fingers along his temple. “I’m not mad or anything, just relieved you are okay,” Her smile gets a little brighter at a thought, “and quite flattered your only thought was to get here, even after getting mugged, no matter what.” Leaning forward she rewards him with a light kiss, before adding. “Foolish, but noble.”

She's not a medic but she's seen these injuries before. Some of them appear worse than they really are, as may be the case with Luther's pistol-whipped brow. "My head's a lot harder than it looks," Luther tries to joke as she fusses over him, "But if you really want, I'll go see a doctor tomorrow."

He acknowledges her worry with a meeting of their eyes, a softness to his gaze, and relinquishing control of the ice pack to her hand. As she gives voice to her actual worry, that he may have found someone else, Luther tilts his chin up slightly in lieu of his brow doing so. "If I did, I'm sure you'd be the first to hunt me down. I don't think I'd be able to find a place to hide."

Then he looks humored, her brightening smile bringing a new one to his features too. The man focuses on the feeling of the kiss, her voice. As she pulls away, he leans towards her in pursuit, apparently not done. "I could think of nothing else," he says quietly, "except to come to you." He starts to tilt further, bringing his face closer, but pauses as he winces slightly and gingerly touches a hand to his bruised ribs.

“Mmm..” It’s flattering to hear him say those words, a little corny too; but, by the smile tugging at her lips and the fact she’s stopped retreating… clearly she liked it. Lips part as she is about to say more, but then he winces and that makes her grimace with sympathy. A hand gently plants itself in the center of his chest — it’s a rather nice chest. He clearly works out — and pushes him back to rest against the couch cushions.

The ice pack falls away from his face and pressed into his hand, so that Kaylee can free up her own. Long fingers seek to lift his shirt and check his ribs with returning concern. Seeing those bruises, she gives a soft hiss of pity. “You need rest,” she points out with a firm look. “Not more excitement.” He knows what she means by that, denying him the fun that is running around in his head. The telepath’s hand rest cold against his ribs, not pressing, but gentle. “They really did a number on you, handsome. You don’t need to make yourself worse.”

The gentle pushback is taken with only mild, token resistance, as if he might be expecting her to draw towards him. In a way, she does, and the ice pack pressed into his hand gets a glance before his eyes follow her fingers. The discoloration along the skin and slight abrasions are ugly, but not too deep. At least, by initial inspection. Luther’s sheepish smile in response to her look at least tints with apology. And some wryness. “That bad huh? Wonder how the other guys look,” he comments thoughtfully, chuckling a bit and only regretting it after the bruising throbs more for it.

While she doesn’t press her hand, he reaches his own free, non-ice pack holding one to pull her arm, and hopefully her, closer. He’s a bit determined to do so, ignoring the movement induced soreness. “I’m fine, now that I’ve got you.” The man grins crookedly, made a little more so with suggestions and stubborn will. And once she’s close enough, he’ll try to plant that kiss on her.

There is no resistance as Kaylee is pulled close, however, that kiss… it doesn’t happen. With a mischievous smile, her hand lifts to cover his mouth before their lips can meet. Maybe it makes them a perfect match as her stubborn will rises up to meet his. “I said you need rest,” she whispers softly, her head close to his, close enough that she can feel her own breath on the back of her own hand. “Besides,” her hand suddenly drops and she gives him a very quick and chaste kiss on the lips, “I’m starving.”

Before he can try again, the telepath is on her feet and moving towards the kitchen. Or so her thinks at first, at least until, arms sliding over his shoulders and down his chest from behind him, and her lips brush the curve of his ear. He can feel them move and feel her breath against his cheek, as she whispers ever so softly, teasing, “Besides, handsome… I don’t think you are in any shape to handle me tonight.” Lips brush along that spot just below the ear, along the curve of his jaw, before she is suddenly gone again.

He can’t see the wicked curl of her lips as she heads for the kitchen, though he might hear it in her tone when she asks, “One or two slices, lover.”

Thwarted by the hand covering his lips, Luther purses them behind her fingers in such a way that she can feel the wry smile there. Touché. The chaste touch after really is a tease, one that’s compounded when she leaves the couch only to come back around. The whisper in his ear has him uttering a low groan for it. Because that was almost cruel. Very wicked.

“Just for that, I’m claiming two,” he sends back, dropping the ice pack atop his bruised side and leaning back his head on the cushioned arm. “And a scoop out of your pint of ice cream, later.”

It’s a promise he’s not likely to forget. Although she might find him asleep before such claims can happen. The rest of dinner progresses uneventfully compared to the start of their evening, until it’s late into the night that Kaylee’s phone chimes with an alert that she’s received a message. The sound is soft enough that it doesn’t wake Luther from where he is on the couch. Once she checks, the message is from the precinct, noting there have been a few suspects brought in that she might want to question. A second picture sent shows her they have Luther’s ID and wallet.

Curled up on an armchair watching Luther sleep, half out of worry that he might have a concussion, Kaylee is startled by her phone. A glance to make sure he is still sleeping, she checks her messages. What she reads on the screen has her sitting up a little straighter and uncurling.

They had the men down at the precinct.

Her gaze lifts to find Luther again, maybe with the intent of giving him the good news, but that ugly purple and blue bruising is there, bringing about a flash of anger. Her jaw clenches against it, lips press tight; and a decision is made.

If he wakes up, he’ll find her gone.

Kaylee has a few criminals she wants to have a ‘word’ with about the man she loves and the condition they left him in.

October 2012

"The Joy of Cooking"

Brows furrowed deeply, Luther stares down to the index card in his hand. He can barely make out the writing on it, and decides to swipe a towel over the card’s face in an effort to clear off the powdery flour that was accidentally splashed on to it.

“Do you think this says a quarter teaspoon, or you think it’s one and a quarter?”

He narrows his gaze at the card again. Beignets may have been ambitious. Honestly, though, how could fried dough and sugar go wrong? But it was amongst the recipes from Kaylee’s granny, passed down with love… and the expectation that women would be the ones learning how to cook. To which Luther just shook his head.

It’s turning out to be a little bit of a challenge though, and he looks over to where the yeast in sugar water is sitting. It has been for a few minutes. They’re supposed to leave it alone for a bit, but he eyes it dubiously.

This is a lot of steps for some donuts.

Turning off the water, where she was rinsing off some of the dishes they had already dirtied up. A towel is plucked off the counter so that she can dry her hands thoroughly before touching the old index card that had her Granny’s distinct handwriting. Tossing the towel to rest of her shoulder, she moves to take the card. “Let me see,” she offers softly, looking at the card with a squint.

“Ummm..” She turns the card a little towards the light shining into the apartment, as if that would help. Brows furrow a little and a fingernail scrapes across the card. Oh look, that ‘1’ was a bit of something stuck to the card. There is a grin as Kaylee offers the card back, “Quarter teaspoon.”

Once he has it, Kaylee brushes at a smudge of flour on his chin with her thumb. “Which might explain why they were too salty when we tried to make them the first time.”

Relinquishing the card to Kaylee’s hand, Luther looks over the rest of the ingredients gathered as instructed on the card. It seems like it’s so simple. Eggs, salt, butter, flour, sugar, a dash of vanilla extract which they had to get from the corner bodega. And the yeast.

Luther takes the card back in hand and sets it beside the remaining ingredients, about to dutifully read off the next steps when she reaches over to brush off the flour from his chin. At the mention of their first go around being salty, he can’t help the slight chuckle that comes with the memories. They had nevertheless, stubbornly eaten that batch. It just had to be paired with something more savory than sweet. Some of that candied bacon he’d brought back from a job. A generous feeling client’s gift.

A hand lifts to touch the spot where she’d brushed, but he doesn’t notice that his hands are still lightly dusted in the flour from when they’d scooped out flour from the nearby bag on the counter. It makes her attempt to get rid of the flour seem rather futile. And it makes it a bit hazardous for her own face when he starts to reach a hand over for her, playfully.

When the smudge of flour is reapplied, Kaylee can’t help but chuckle, though it turns into her ducking that playful reach. “Whoa! Don’t touch me with those hands,” her tone a playful tease.

Snatching the towel off her shoulder, Kaylee tosses it at him with a grin. “You’re covered in flour.” Okay only a little, but it is enough for her to avoid being covered in it. Of course, little does she knows he had exceeded to land a streak of flour along her cheek. So if he wasn’t aware of his own state, he does now.

Of course, Jojo watches all from the back of the couch with mild disinterest.

"What," Luther asks, glancing to his dusted hands briefly, "you love it when I touch you with these han—" He catches the towel, and sight of his handiwork on her cheek gets a laugh. "Alright alright," he relents and wipes off as much as he can with the towel, "we were trying to make it through this one recipe card." He has to remind himself as well as her.

Looking down the card, Luther reads off the next instructions in combining the ingredients into the mixing bowl. The flour is last, and should be added a cup at a time, but the card doesn't say, assuming the chef knows what they're doing. Like, how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. In the end, Luther dumps the whole batch in, resulting in a sudden puff of white up and over, lingering in the air.

He turns away to sneeze, covering his mouth with his hand. "Excuse me," he remarks as he turns back to her. With a now flour-covered stubbled jaw, making it look greyer. "You want to do the mixing this time?" The question comes innocently.

“Bless you,” Kaylee automatically offers back when he sneezes, her smile affectionate as she reaches up and lightly brushes at the dusting of flour on his face, which doesn’t help much. “We are doing about as well, as usual. Maybe we should take couples cooking classes.” Why they hadn’t thought of that before… stubbornness maybe?

Turning, she bumps her hip against his to get him to move out of the way, “Let me in there.” She eyes the pile of white in the bowl, smile pulling to one side. “You know… I’m starting understand why people like Kitchen Aid mixers and why Granny had one.” The hand mixer gets a glance, but her better judgement has her picking up the wooden spoon. “Thiiis… could get messy.”

Turning her attention to the bowl, Kaylee attempts to gently mix the dough. Easier said than done as she keeps knocking little clumps of flour out of the bowl on to the counter.

Reaching up with the towel, Luther moves to wipe off the playful streak of flour he’d left on her cheek. It’s really more to give him a chance to affectionately stroke the feature that he’s aiming to plant a kiss on. Her note about cooking classes gets a short chuckle though, and the kiss turns out to be but a quick peck. “Hm, not a bad idea… they might fail us out, but we’d at least be able to say we tried.” Or, more realistically, their attempt at finding time in their busy schedules has been more the failure.

She bumps him away and he laughs more brightly this time, relinquishing his position to her insistence. “Your Granny sounds like a wise woman,” he replies while washing his hands at the nearby sink. “All those artisan foods and goods they have in the market these days…” The man shakes his head slowly. He’s often wondered if there was truly a difference, or if it’s all a gimmick to charge higher pricing for fancy marketing terms.

He dries off his hands on a different towel and dabs what’s left of the flour off his jaw. Luther turns, standing at the sink, watching the woman attempting to mix the dry and wet ingredients together with such diligence, such focus. A smile pulls. It’s a moment he’ll remember.

He walks over slowly, cleaner towel in hand tossed over his shoulder so his hands are free, and eventually slips back behind her. Freed hands come around to cover over hers, to wrap his fingers over hers gripping the mixing spoon while the other hand slides down her arm to the one holding the mixing bowl in place. He’ll find a few new spots of flour and dough marking his clean fingers again shortly. Luther then works the hand with the spoon, guiding it slowly around and around in the bowl. Without a real aim to be mixing the ingredients despite that they’re trying to complete the recipe.

December 2012

"Unity Park Central Ice Rink"

This was a mistake. Definitely a mistake. Luther is normally a steady guy, but that’s on solid ground. One might arguably say that an ice skating rink is solid. He’d argue it’s liquid.

But that’s neither here nor there right now because right now, he’s clinging to the edge of the rink railing and trying not to look like a newborn forest animal still gaining its legs. “I’ll be right over!” he calls to Kaylee out on the ice, shooting a pseudo-reassuring smile that he’s got it covered over.

He does not have it covered. Maybe should have paid extra for the skating lesson.

Having maybe skated only a handful of times more, Kaylee is steadier, but not like the people skating by them. She had tried to get him out there with her, which is why she was out further without any support. Despite the shaky instability of them both, the telepath has a bright and highly amused smile.

Slowly, she makes her way back over. It’s shaky, but she finally bumps rather heavily into the side of the rink, hair falling haphazardly across her face. So very graceful. Okay, not really. “This was a very bad idea. I am so sorry.” Clinging to the side herself, she can’t help but half-laugh her way through the words. “Next time, I think we will stick to bowling.” The chances of getting a concussion from bowling was pretty slim.

Pulling himself away from the rail, Luther tries to make his way over to her. It’s only a few moments of wobbling before he reaches not for the railing, but for her. She’s the one clinging to the side. He’s clinging to her. “You’re right it was a terrible idea,” he says with no seriousness at all, because he’s not. It wasn’t a bad idea. It was just a mistake on his part to have claimed he could do this without instruction.

Turning so he can kind of lean against the railing as well as keep his arm around her, Luther adjusts the scarf around his neck as he looks out over the rink, studying the people who make this look so easy. Even the little kid there, skating backwards. “That was fun,” he remarks in regards to bowling. “This is too,” he continues, then with his hand reaching over to brush some of the golden blonde hair away from her face. So he can cup her cheek in the warmth of his hand and lean over to kiss her.

Cheek flushed from the cold of the night, Kaylee leans into the radiant warmth. He was so good for that. The fact that she can’t stop smiling says that she is having fun despite it all. “I admit, it’s nice to see you are not all Mr. Perfect,” she teases, leaning to meet him for that intended kiss.

Lips do meet for the briefest of moments, but then one of Kaylee’s skates lose what little grip they had. With a yelp of surprise, she completely loses balance, grabbing at the first thing she can, which just happens to be Luther himself. Sending them both down into a tangled piles on the cold ice.

There are tears of pain in her eyes and she’ll have a nasty bruise on her hip, but Kaylee breaks out into laughter at the ridiculousness of the situation.

They look like fools, but she doesn’t care.

The kiss is warm, even as brief as it is she can feel his ability’s passive effect radiating in the air just over his lips, trapped between hers. He’s never claimed to be Mr. Perfect either, which she knows as that bit of shy humility of the man. When they slip and she grabs for him, though, he’s grabbing for her as well in an enveloping grasp.

For a split second or two, just before they collide with the ice, she feels the tangible slowing down of their bodies. He’s caught her by the shoulders and her head at least impacts with his torso rather than the ice itself. The slowed down impact is softened by some invisible sense of force pulling away from her and closer to him, a feeling of going against gravity itself in a way.

It all happens in those scant seconds. They both still fall on the ice. Luther lets out a grunt, having fallen on his hip and backside as well. But as long as he’s got her head cradled against him, he doesn’t mind the dull pain of a growing bruise. “You okay?” he asks first, concerned. Then when she breaks into laughter, he shakes a bit in a chuckle, his upper body jumping slightly beneath her.

A gloved hand wipe at tears of laughter, but she’s not really moving to get up at the moment. “Yeah, I’m okay,” she says around lingering giggles. Tipping her head back a little to look up at him, her eyes glimmer with her continued amusement at the situation. Reaching up, she loops an arm behind his neck and pulls him into an enthusiastic, but brief kiss. “My hero,” she comments affectionately after, he did after all save her from a possible concussion.

Glancing down around them, Kaylee can’t help but give another short laugh. “Now the fun part… we get to figure out how to get up again.”

Luther’s not expecting it when she pulls him over for an upside down kiss, but he goes with it. The man looks like he’s going to be, briefly, staying where he is just the way he is with her lips on his, up until she breaks off to glance around. He looks amused too, cheeks flush with a touch of embarrassment, a touch of heat, he scrubs a gloved hand against his short beard.

The railing beside them gets a glance, then he cranes a look down at her. “I’m not sure, but if we do manage it, I’m proposing we go somewhere a little more solid and dry… like that hot cocoa stand over there.”

He doesn’t wait for her agreement either, but takes it upon himself to reach for the railing with one hand and scoops his arm around her in the other. And in a singular heave, he hoists himself and her up towards the rail. Just enough to get their skates back under them.

The cart only gets a glance before Kaylee is hauled up, feet tucking under her and a hand reaching out to help as best she can. It is shaky, but — but she manages to stay upright, both hands clinging desperately to the railing.

Another look goes to the cart now that Kaylee is on her feet again. “Yeah,” she agrees, “I could use something warm and hot chocolate sounds like the perfect remedy for our bruised dignity.”

That said, she moves toward the edge of the rink, hand over hand in an attempt to stay upright.

Edging along the rink side, Luther follows close behind her until they’ve reached the gate letting people onto the rink and allowing those leaving to seek their refuge. The foam and rubber cushioned mats nearby are where he heads over to shed the skates in favor of exchanging for his shoes. Once the proper footwear is back on his feet, he is much more confident in his movement and stride.

After the short walk to the hot cocoa cart, they soon have their cups of cocoa steaming through the drink hole of the covered paper cups. Luther has turned to watch the rink, still somehow marveling at the effortless glides of the majority of the skaters going widdershins around the rink. He shakes his head. “Before you say anything,” he notes abruptly, and doesn’t finish the thought but leans over to place a light kiss on her cheek.

It’s simply the moment that they’re sharing that he’s content with. And, “This hot cocoa’s pretty good. Marshmallows definitely make it better. Glad you talked me into them.” It didn’t take too much convincing, though.

Leaning into the kiss, Kaylee smiles brightly with her hands tucked tightly around her own cup, willing the warmth to seep into her fingers. “I am, too.” Glad she talked him into it.

“We should do this again.”

March 2013

"Suits and Settlements"

On the insistence that men indeed do shop and no it’s not simply delivered by a bird or something, Luther has picked up Kaylee in a (likely company) car on one of her rare off days. Convincingly argued, perhaps. Lured. Suggested. Cajoled. Actually, the man simply said he was going to pick up a new suit. If she’d like to come.

So she finds herself in a pleasantly spacious but not too much so business of custom tailored suits, surrounded by fabrics of earthen and cool colors along most of the walls, but with one bearing racks of much more colorful affairs. Though to her knowledge, Luther does not, has not, worn any of those colors in any capacity.

Instead, they are lead straightaway to the back rooms by an enthusiastic young man in a muted grey suit, his bearing a pop of color with a deep purple shirt. Kaylee is asked first if she’d like any refreshments, with an invitation to try their Turkish coffee.

Luther looks over his shoulder at her as they walk down the more cramped part of the hall, made more so by his broader shoulders and tall size. A smile tugs at his mouth corner in amusement. “Doing okay back there?” he inquires.

Looking for any excuse to be around Luther, of course, Kaylee told him yes. Now as she moves through the shop, noticing all the colors, she seems a little at loss at words. This was not the sort of place she thought they would be going. A thought was tickling at the back of her mind, that she is pretty sure she couldn’t afford this kind of place on her salary as a detective… how was a janitor?

So when he looks over his shoulder at her, she might seem a little overwhelmed. “Huh?” There is a blink of those blue-eye. “Oh, yeah. I’m doing fine.” She needed to cover her misstep so she glances back over her own shoulder. “I was just admiring the colors out there. A saw a nice blue-gray that would really work with your eyes, I think.” She offers him a smile in return.

She always tried to dress nice to go with his nicer clothing, which means today she’s wearing a skirt of blues and purples, with a light cream wide necked sweater that leaves the tops of her shoulder exposed.

"Yeah? You'll have to show Mohud which one," Luther replies about the suggestion for a fabric, his tone easy, comfortable. He's enjoying himself, though he takes note of Kaylee's overwhelmed expression. Hence his inquiry. He's distracted though, with the tailor's talking.

They step into the back room where one might imagine a similar layout of a bridal shop's dressing room. Mohud the tailor guides Luther over to a circular section with full length mirrors at five angles and a round center step for the client to stand on. The tailor gestures to a sharp looking black ensemble with cool undertones for Luther to feel and test its fabric, to check out the lines of the suit. To the layman's eye it's hard to say how much it differs from others that he wears. But, come to think of it, he has a decent wardrobe. A steady rotation. A salesman might have that many, if he made commission that way. But a janitor? Even for Pinehearst…

"Miss?" The grey-suited young man interrupts of her thoughts in as gently a tone as he can manage. "Would you care for some coffee?" When did he leave and come back with coffee? Either way, though, there is an awaiting, ornately decorated cup and a small pitcher with elongated spout. He adds with a bright smile, a compliment for her outfit. “Your sweater is beautiful. The color goes well with your skirt and your eyes.”

It's about at the moment of offering coffee and compliments that Luther turns to her as well and notes, "Hey. You said you noticed a blue-grey?" He’s heard the compliment too, lifting a brow but otherwise seeming unbothered by the young man’s words. Maybe it’s just part of the routine, to treat the guests of the business well.

“Awww. Thank you,” Kaylee offers the gentleman a bright smile for the compliment and taking the pre-offered cup. “It’s a lot of work to keep up with such a handsome man.” Her gaze going to Luther. She is really trying hard not to think to hard about where they were. Maybe it wasn’t as bad as she thought. Maybe — maybe she is just reading too much into things.

She is trying really hard.

Luther’s question gets a short and thoughtful nod. “I did. Out there.” Her head jerks towards the front of the store. “It was a kind of stormy gray. Where it’s gray, but there is just enough of a hint of blue to make you wonder.” She only saw it for a second, before the detective in her started to notice things and started to make her suspicious.

“This explains why you always look so amazing,” Kaylee compliments softly, with a smile. Though it doesn’t quite reach her eyes, because of that part of her that can’t quite fathom how he can afford this place.

“Agreed,” the young man in grey and purple chuckles to Kaylee. He also casts a quick glance to Luther’s form as Mohud discusses business with the man. “Mister Bellamy has been very kind and generous with his patronage.” As they chat off to the side, Luther and Mohad finish their conversation about the suit and the tailor gestures for the man to take the outfit around a nearby screened off corner to change. Luther starts thataway, a second quick glance sent Kaylee’s way with a smile. Maybe he’s glad that she’s here too.

Something about what Kaylee describes with the fabric she’d seen out there sparks a reaction out of the tailor, who snaps his fingers to gain the attention of the young man and he fires off a rapid chatter of a foreign language. Then the young man is shooed off. Mohud then comes over to Kaylee’s side, watching her curiously. “You look concerned,” the tailor points out, his thick eyebrows twitching up. “Is the suit not to your liking? You’d rather the slate grey on him?” He adjusts his glasses, reseating them on the bridge of his bulbous nose.

Blue eyes are following the path that Luther takes with the suit, coffee still cupped in her hands not being drank. The smile is returned, but when he turns away, it fades away again. Suspicion settles in, but only until the tailor grabs her attention.

“What?” Kaylee is confused on the idea of her not liking the suit. “Oh… no no. I love it. You do amazing work.” Looking down at the mug brows furrow a little and she looks like this is going to say something, but then… offers the man a smile. “You do challenge me to up my clothing game.” And she has never really been one to care about clothing.

Looking at the screen where her lover is tucked away, Kaylee asks softly, “C-can you give us a moment? I need to talk to Luther.” And really, she didn’t want the man to hear her. “It won’t take long. I promise.”

Mohud adjusts of the glasses on his nose. The tailor's dark eyes flick down to her clothing, then back up to her smile. His gaze is exacting, immediately catching on details. Not just of her clothes, but her whole person. If he weren't a tailor, perhaps he would have made a great detective as well, or crime lab scientist in another universe. Another timeline. He makes a short, skeptical noise low in his throat and doesn't return the smile she has offered. However, he nods to her request and turns with a brisk heel, stepping away off towards the front of the shop where he'd sent the assistant. She can hear Mohud sound like he's bombarding the young man with command and commentary.

When she draws closer to the screened off area, she can hear Luther's movements and the rustle of fabric as he proceeds in putting the new suit on.

The telepath is quiet as the tailor steps away, watching till he leaves. Only then does she look at the cup of coffee in her hands and sets it down somewhere. Hands fidget, fingers worrying at the fabric of her skirt as she moves closer.

“Luther?” She starts unable to contain the sudden sensation of anxiety she is feeling. It is a heaviness in the pit of her stomach, because she was afraid of what she needed to say… to ask. “I- I don’t understand. How do you afford these?” She turns a little to look at some of the display suits. “I don’t even need to look at the tags to know I can’t. Are— “ Kaylee’s voice catches here. Should she ask? Maybe she shouldn't. What if?

“Are you really even a janitor?”

He can hear the worry in her voice, the fear of what the answer could be. If he looks, it is there in her eyes too. They almost plea with him to not to hurt her, but it is obvious she is expecting it.

The screened off area is not large. The privacy is by nature of its tucked away position and social contract that people don't go into other people's dressing spaces. As she approaches, she sees him finishing off the look with a slide of the black suit jacket over the navy collar of his shirt, his broad shoulders filling in the outfit nicely. They know what they're doing in this suit shop.

At her calling him, "Yeah?" he responds. It's the wavering tone in her voice that makes him turn and step around to the side of the screen. In time to catch that question, and the pleading look in her eyes.

Lifted brows drop and draw together. There's a flicker of confusion, followed by realization of her fear and suspicion of him. She can see his own expression darken, tension enters it with a tightening of his gaze and jawline. Why? is the unspoken, defensive question in it.

But, then he inhales and exhales deeply and visibly slackens that look to something more neutral. It's obvious that she caught him at a vulnerable, unguarded state, possibly a misstep on his part that he's suddenly much more aware of. "Yes, I'm a janitor," he answers slowly, wondering why the sudden questions.

He turns, reaching behind the screen to the jacket he'd left hanging, pulling out his phone and unlocking it. Once he's done scrolling through a screen, he holds out the phone to show a picture of him in a group of ordinary looking people. They're all in polo shirts with the Pinehearst logo, khakis or jeans. He happens to be leaning on a floor polisher on the side, his height giving him away if the face and his characteristic stubbled cheeks didn't. "You can ask any of them," he says, adding, "though we joke that our official title is 'Custodial Technician', which sounds better for the salary."

So he's trying to deflect the sting with a sense of humor, even though it doesn't quite reach his eyes. His next words aren't quite as warm as they could be, thickened with a restrained timbre. "That, and I was…" He trails briefly, glancing ceilingwards as he chooses what words to follow with. His gaze dips back to her face when he finds it.

"Wrongfully imprisoned. Then, granted clemency. And a settlement out of court." He's sure that there are more questions to follow when he reveals that much, but there is hard, heavy truth to the statement. He hadn't spoken about his past to her, nor had he asked her about hers beyond a few memories about their families. He'd not taken her up on the offer to help strengthen past memories. One of the reasons, finally, is revealed.

A little confused still, Kaylee steps forward to get a good look at the photo. Her hands moving to cradle the phone, even if she doesn’t take it from his hand. There is relief in knowing he wasn’t lying about his job. It still didn’t explain the suits, which she had to admit — glancing up at him and noticing the suit suddenly — looked amazing on him.

“What? Wrongfully— ” It takes a moment for what he says to sink in. She pales a little, but then her brows furrow a little in thought. It suddenly made a lot of things make sense. Still — “Why didn’t you say something?” Kaylee does seem a little hurt that he hadn’t trusted her with that, they’ve been together this long. It made her realize how little she even knew about him. “I know I’m a cop, but I’m not unreasonable.”

Her hand moves to rest along the hand holding the phone, “Luther, if — if we’re going to make this work between us. We need to start talking to each other.” Her hand pulls away and joins the other to rest over her own heart as she steps back. “I know I could do better, too… so, I’m so so sorry I doubted you.”

Luther's stance reads potential tension at her approach to look at the department photo saved to his phone. The anxious energy she bears seems to translate to him, but he's gamely avoiding comment and letting her take her time with the photograph. It's one of those rare moments that she sees he's able to get along with others just fine, as he is with Mohud and his assistant.

The phone screen darkens, then locks.

Gaze dropping down to the space between them, Luther loses the initial spike of tension as she goes on. "I don't know," he admits softly, "what cop wants to know she's been with a guy who's done time?" Even if it wasn't his fault, the stain is there, a mark that's penetrated deep into the psyche. That even if he didn't deserve it then, he does now.

Grey eyes lift as she takes her other hand to hold on his, and he stills, as he usually does when she touches him. He's at a loss for those words she wants him to use, caught in momentary instability, the notion of uncertainty that occurs when she says they'll need to 'make this work between us' ticking on different fear.

It actualizes when she pulls away. He straightens, a line of tense worry returning, knitted brows twitching down. She's apologizing, but he's also feeling the regret almost instantly. The retreating movement spurs him to action in pursuit, taking the step that reclaims the space widened. He reaches a hand out, aimed to cup under her cheek, to keep her from moving further back. "No, don't be. It's in the past," he replies quietly, a look mustering up that is neither a smile nor is it suggestive, but desiring nevertheless.

The radiant warmth of his touch does keep her in place. Kaylee has never really been one who could hide her feelings, they are always out there on her sleeve in plain view. Her smaller more delicate hand covers his, cooler by degrees. It presses his hand to her cheek as she leans into that touch, eyes drift shut at the sensation.

“You’d be surprised what a woman will forgive when she’s in love with a good man.” The words are filled with emotion.

Suddenly, she remembers where they are and her hand falls away and she straightens. Clearing her throat, her cheeks coloring slightly, she reaches out to fiddle with the way the suit sits on him. “Now, let's see this suit.”

April 4, 2013

"NYPD Foundation and UEO Association Gala"

The invitation had set the date, but Kaylee had long known about the annual New York City Police Foundation and Unity Enforcement Officers Association gala long ahead of time. Given the number of co-sponsors and presence of coworkers, such a grandiose event would hardly be out of place to show off in, and indeed many had. But those were the higher ups, the ones that had the medals to pin. One thing was certain: there would be so many officers in uniform and formal dress. And another thing was also mostly certain: Luther wasn’t going to let her skip this one.

Normally, Kaylee does skip these damn things. She always hated dressing up, covered with makeup, and just in general being something she isn’t. However, since she started dating Luther, she has found herself dressing up more and more; even wearing more than just mascara, eyeliner, and blush. Lord knows the guys at the precinct have noticed.

However, for an event like this, it took a more professional touch. Kaylee had spent more time in a salon chair then she ever wanted to. Chatted at about some of the most boring things.

Now she was standing in her bedroom, the robe that Luther had bought her a while back, tucked around her form, eyeing the look that was carefully crafted for her. Long fingers carefully touch one of the carefully crafted ringlet of gold hair. Bright red lips curl mischievously. She couldn’t wait til he saw. Even she had to admit the stylist did an amazing job.

The sound of the front door closing alerts her that Luther was there, her head turning to look back over her shoulder, expression brightening. “Back here!” she calls even as she unties the robes and slides it off, tossing it on the bed. “I’m almost done.” Fingers trail over the blue-gray, gossamer fabric of the layered floor length skirt, each paper thin; except for the inner skirt that was more like a slip.

Arms are slipped into lace sleeves. In fact, the whole upper half is made of lace, making people look twice to be sure all things are properly covered. A hand holds the top into place and she sighs. When she had tried it on, someone helped her. So much for surprise. “Luther?! I could use some help,” After a tic she adds, “Please?” When he steps in he can see her pale bare back and shoulders turned towards him. Clearly this dress means she’d going without a bra, because there is no sign of one, not even a strapless one.

Angling a look over her shoulder, Kaylee asks, “Could you zip me up please?”

She can feel Luther’s mental presence as he comes in through the door, his search for her abated when she calls him from the bedroom. Anticipation and curiosity ride him, though the man lingers in the common room and kitchen area on account of expecting her to be still prepping. Plus, he’s actually early by some minutes of their departure time. He busies himself with getting a quick drink of water when she calls for him, and it takes him a moment.

When Luther comes around the corner, he’s dressed in the slate grey suit she’d caught her eye on not long ago in the tailor’s shop. It took a bit of time to put together, but now that it’s on him, she’s sure to note it wasn’t a bad choice at all. The blue shirt and darker tie he’s paired with it echo the shades of her dress like they’d planned it, but the coincidence is just that. The sight of her standing with her bare back and shoulders facing him gets a longer, lingering look. It’s not until she looks back at him and asks a second time that he’s shaken out of his reverie.

“You look…” He steps forward, closing the distance and fingers grasp at the thin, nearly invisible zipper pull. He doesn’t zip her up straightaway, but leans over to sneak a light kiss against the back of her exposed neck, around the blonde ringlets. “Arresting.” He smiles, lips against her skin prickling with the bit of tease in his tone for the deliberate wordplay. And then he pulls the zipper up.

The barest touch of his lips on the back of Kaylee’s neck is enough to make her breath catch in her throat and her back to straighten. Such a tease! Pulling up the zipper, he can feels her body give a little shiver as she relaxes again, the good kind, one that he knows well and rather intimately. Once the zipper is in place, she allows herself to lean back into the warmth of him, one arm lifting so that she can gently hook a hand behind his neck.

Kaylee is watching them in the floor length mirror, her head tilting to let her temple rest against his cheek. “I could have you arrested for assault with a pun like that. In fact, the handcuffs are still hanging on the headboard.” There is a touch of mischief to the smile, teeth framed with red lipsticks. A bright point of color among all the neutrals.

“However, I think I’ll forgive you this once. Otherwise, we might never get out that door.” The Kaylee in the mirror arches a single questioning brow at him. “Unless you’d rather skip it.”

Luther lets out a laugh at her note about the handcuffs hanging from the headboard, sliding a look in the direction of the bed as if to check if they really are. But that look doesn’t stay off of her for long, instead returning to their reflections. “Mm, as much as skipping it sounds like a great idea, we’ve already paid for the meal, haven’t we?” he says even as he slips his hands around her hips. And with the pair of them, it’s no small thing to be skipping food. “Come on, we’ve got to at least see what they’ve got for this shindig.” And he steps off to a side, moving to grab her clutch so she won’t have to carry it on her own.

A short ride later, they arrive at the large meeting hall that’s been converted and designed for the night’s awards and speeches. They don’t get to go in right away of course, as there is an obligatory section of red carpet where photographers and press get to snap pictures of the arrivals against a wall patterned with the foundation and association logos as well as event sponsors. Even if it was on his insistence that they attend, it’s clear that the man isn’t used to the spotlight on him. The way Luther sticks close to Kaylee, just looking around at the flashing bulbs and enduring the frenetic noise surrounding the event, he doesn’t exactly know how to handle it all.

He’d cling to her the whole night, except it appears that there’s a part where people are separating to talk into microphones or in the case of the most of the ladies, pausing for photos. Luther nods slightly towards the area, leaning in to say into her ear under all the sound, “You should go, show off a little.”

The world around Kaylee is a-buzz, but not just around her, but in her head as well. It was another reason why she didn’t really want to go, but she wouldn’t admit it him. It was a bit like having a hive of bees living in your head. On a normal day, it’s tolerable, but with something like this… the mind around her are like live wires, filled with excitement.

She’ll have a nasty headache by time they leave tonight.

Her head tilts a little and turns toward the sound of his voice, close to her ear. What he suggests gets a surprised look. A glance goes towards the cameras and her face pales slightly, though it isn’t noticeable under all that makeup. “Oh no. No no no. Last thing I need is that held over my head at work,” Kaylee sounds uncertain about that. “They already give me grief about the fact I actually put on makeup now.” To be fair, she did before, but very minimal.

“We should just go in and find our seats, eat some food, and try not to fall asleep during the speeches.” Seems his date also has a bit of a problem with the spotlight.

Luther hears the uncertainty, noting the tension from her arm. The man’s nod is lost in the flashes of cameras. “You got it,” he says reassuredly, straightening up and looking about before he spots what he wants. The next time he leans, it’s away and lightly tugging at her to follow. Instead of heading towards the fray, they’re walking off the carpet and sidling along the edges of the crowd of people.

“Over there,” he indicates once they’ve cleared the original clump and step towards the bushes and planters along the sidewalk where the taxis, company cars and limos are lined up. Down a darkened alley from the lights, cameras and action, he takes her to what is the server’s entrance.

The number of cigarette butts tossed and smudged on the floor is telling. But the door is locked from the outside, presenting the first dilemma.

Trust in the man is absolute, Kaylee allows herself to be pulled away from the crowd, away from the flashing cameras. Dragged down the dark alley, away from the loud buzz of so many minds in a small area. Luther will see her physically relax and a small mischievous smile form as she realizes what he has them doing. “I’d be lost without you around,” she offers in compliment as they reach the door.

When he tries the door and finds it locked, Kaylee rests an hand on his arm. Eyes slide shut so that she can concentrate on what she is doing. Her head tilts a little while her mind searches out from the door. A little twitch of her brows and then her eyes open again. The hand on his arm tightens as she pulls him back.

Which is good, because the door suddenly swings outward, just missing them. The server on the other side seems surprised to see them, the unlit cigarette in his mouth dipping down as he stands there gaping at them. Little does he know, Kaylee offered a mental suggestion that he wanted a cigarette. A simple thing really; a nudge.

Luther glances around and looks almost like he’s entertaining the notion of figuring out how to break the lock. He doesn’t notice her mental reach, but her hand on his arm stalls any idea of actual criminality. She feels his arm tense as she pulls him back, though, and a slight flush enters his features. He may have forgotten, briefly, that he’s with a detective, and this was a police foundation gala.

But now that the door’s open, he smirks crookedly and slips them past the server, a quick nod to the young man for the trouble. Little does he know, indeed. Once they’re in, they head through the galley style kitchen setup and take another side tunnel that spills into one of the halls. There aren’t as many people in this area as the main ballroom, but the night is young yet.

A few eyes turn towards them, and while Luther doesn’t recognize the people, she should. They’re just a little fancier dressed than the normal everyday attire. They certainly look surprised by her fancy dress.

Kaylee does recognize just about everyone, looking suitably embarrassed for their entrance. However, she decides to let the looks slide off her back, sliding her arm through Luther’s, she leans into him just a little. It was a little nerve wracking being stared at by some of them, though she convinces herself it is because of him… she sees those ladies staring, too. She brushes a hand down his lapel and gives him a soft smile, “I’m really glad you are here with me.”

Of course, they will have to do the rounds, Luther will have to be introduced to just about everyone, even the captain — that one alone will be a stressful experience for her. Still she manages to hold a bright and warm smile with each introduction, even as she clings to him like a lifeline.

“Oh thank god,” Kaylee murmurs by time they are done saying hello to Diaz, probably one of the few detectives that knew him. With that the rounds are done. A glance is sent in the direction of the bar and she gives a small amused chuckle. “It is times like these I miss the ability to drink,” she confides softly to her date.

To be honest, Luther eyes the ladies back but he’s not doing so in any manner outside of polite and acknowledging. He also notes the eyes that turn upon Kaylee, the brows lifting when recognition of the woman strikes, a couple of mouths parting in surprise. Her arm slipping around his turns his attention back to her, away from the distraction, and he smiles back. “Of course,” he says as he leans close to her ear, not wanting to compete with the crowd’s noise level. “Still kind of think you should’ve taken a picture out there, just because the looks on some of these faces… priceless.” He’s teasing though, wanting her to loosen up but not forcing it upon her. Rather, to enjoy as much of the evening as she can.

On their way round to introductions, it might be a little surprising the Luther gets recognized by a few faces, though nowhere near the amount of Kaylee getting recognized. The amount of “Oh I’ve seen you around” and “How’s it going”s they have to answer feels almost infinite, until finally the hurricane that is Diaz blows off to land on other couples’ coastlines. Luther takes a breath and he chuckles with her small confession of wanting to be able to drink. The man resists the urge to take a moment out of the evening to kiss her within view of cameras, but he does slip a hand around her waist supportively. “Right. There’s got to be something nonalcoholic though,” he considers as he eyes the bar as well. “But let’s find our seats,” he suggests, and holds on to her arm as they weave their way into the large room organized with several tables.

The gala dinner is also no joke, but it also cost a fair chunk of change for what it is. And that’s not where the money is to be made either. By the time the speeches are starting and the last bits of an entree are being prodded with a fork, Luther is gamely hanging on. He hasn’t touched any alcohol, which normally is an acceptable state. The dinner not being up to par, though, that’s unacceptable. Every so often, and growing in frequency as the evening wears on, he takes comfort in being able to turn to Kaylee and smile at her with every interaction she’s got to endure, with every familiar or unfamiliar face and their date of the evening as well.

After the last one before the awards are going to go into full swing, he leans over to joke lightly, “Are they expecting a report by morning, Detective?”

Her head tilts a little to listen to what her date has to say. Kaylee gives a short quiet sound of amusement, muffled a little by the hand she places over her mouth. Turning her head so that he can hear her soft word, she says with a chuckle, “God, I hope not. Not sure I’ve even heard half of it. Pretty sure I blacked out for the whole of the captain’s speech.” While they all had some sort of bland cop joke here and there, many of the speakers were bland, reading from a binder set in front of them with their speeches tucked into plastic protectors.

You’d think with the time they had to practice, they’d learn inflection.

Glancing around her, Kaylee leans a little closer. “Think we’ve held out long enough that we can sneak out?” A glance goes to her mostly untouched chicken, lips pressed into a thin red line. “Get some real food, maybe?” Brows lift hopefully, there was a developing pinch behind her eyes; her ability has about had enough of all those minds.

She doesn’t have to be a mind reader to know what most of them are thinking. They’d probably all love to get out of there and either hit the bar or the head. Unlike the more polite of the socially obligated, high-falutin’ group at the ceremonies, Luther isn’t bound by these worries tonight. “You read my mind,” he says into her ear and slowly pushes up out of his chair. “‘Scuse us, just a little, you know, stuffy in here. Going to get some air,” he says easily to the lookers and other table guests, moving over to help Kaylee up as well.

Sneaking out might not be as easy as sneaking in, but they only catch a few of the looks from some of her coworkers before slipping off to the somewhat empty halls. Most everybody is in the main room, leaving a few guests are outside mingling or in the courtyard smoking. As they head for an exit, they aren’t given much of a second glance.

Outside and standing on the sidewalk waiting to hail a cab is when Luther finally takes a moment to get bold enough to kiss her. Other guests and possible cameras be damned. It’s not a deep or impassioned one, but still warm and intended to be conveying of the desire he’s been holding back through the evening.

It is a relief to be out of the press of bodies and buzzing beehive of minds, it has always been a challenge; but she’s at least a little thankful that she went to one finally. Probably, the last one if she can help it. Even if she had been told that she needs to play the game, this sort of thing… was not her cup of tea.

Next time, she’ll play the telepath card.

If there was any guilt for leaving early, it is dashed away by the kiss. He wasn’t the only one who had been wanting to do that all evening and now that she didn’t have to worry about her lipstick… fingers of one hand curling into the lapel of his jacket and the other sliding along Luther’s shoulders; she steps in close. The desire of his kiss is matched and returned, with barely contained reserve. Clearly, she isn’t concerned about cameras either.

There is some reluctance as lips part and she leans away. “So where are you thinking?” Food she means. A thumb brushes away the smudge of lipstick on his lips, much like she did that one time in the restaurant on their one true vacation. “Maybe something kinda fast,” she continues, her voice a little breathless from the kissing, “Cause, I really want you to get me out of this dress.” Yes… he heard right.

It’s all about images and appearances, good will hiding the exchange of money and credit. As it has always been. None of that matters though, to the moment where the couple are caught embracing. Luther’s blink and rough exhale tell of his own reluctance. A smile forms as she wipes the bit of lipstick off.

Her question starts him thinking of options, of which there are infinite given where they are in the city. But that last note abruptly narrows down the focus back on to her. His head angles slightly, eyes narrow at her suggestion, and his smile turns up on a corner of his lips. “Alright. I got an idea,” he says, finally turning and flagging a cab down.

The ride back will have a short stop at a hole in the wall where they get a few looks for how they’re dressed when they order to-go, but it won’t be the strangest thing New Yorkers have seen come and go. And the rest of the night promises to be a long one shared in the privacy of the apartment, with no bland speeches or disappointing dinners to interrupt their time together and only a set of handcuffs hanging from a headboard.

June 2013


He'd seen her talking to neighbors before, but there's been one that's gotten second glances and narrow-eyed looks. The young man in the near-corner apartment down the hall on the same floor, Trenton. Charismatic, charming, easy smile, clean-shaven Silicon Valley transplant, Trenton. Fine hair, bright eyes, athletic physique, good posture for a man who works with computers on the daily, Trenton. A helluva good talker too, as chatty as Kaylee can get, Trenton. Recently turned 29 years old and felt like he needed a change of pace and scenery so he up and moved to New York, Trenton.

The just-a-friendly-guy neighbor who's now brought some kind of healthy carnitas burrito in a bowl format with fresh naan bread in that Californian fusion of cuisines, because he's a meal prepper on the side, Trenton. And a bouquet of roses now sitting in a vase on the middle of the kitchen counter, courtesy of? Trenton.

"He's making passes at you." Luther leans on said kitchen counter, eyeing the roses with narrowed storm-grey eyes and a growl to his tense tone. "Don't you see that? Red roses, Kaylee? I don’t even have to be a telepath to know." And, compared to the bright, vibrant colors of fresh red salsa, a rainbow of sliced peppers, earthy brown rice and beans, delectably marinated pork, Luther has only something quick from the take-out corner joint. A common, far less exciting staple.

But the flower vase. This feels like an intrusion. Luther's invisible hackles are raised. He’s tensed, fighting off the urge to actually set the beautiful flowers alight. He could do it, with a look.

“Don’t you dare burn them,” Kaylee warns him with a soft growl, clearly hearing that thought, a brief and annoyed glance sent his way. Her own back is up, but only because she feels insulted that he doesn’t trust her. Maybe she has indulged Trenton too much. One too many talks, one too many coincidental meetings… and maybe one hug. However, in her defense the conversation has been nice. Still…

She might have missed the writing on the wall.

How had she been so blind. It hadn’t hit her until Trenton showed up with the flowers and the food. While she had turned the man down, he wouldn’t let her refuse the gifts… There hadn’t been time to do anything with them before Luther showed up and well….

“You do that and I’ll never be able to get the smell out of the apartment for weeks.” Currently, Kaylee is keeping herself busy with unpacking the food that Luther brought. It smells great, but she is not in the mood to compliment him. Not at the moment. “He’s harmless. Just completely clueless. It’s fine. You’re overreacting.” She sets down the container currently in her hand and turns rather quickly to face him. One hand perched on the tile counter, the other settles on the curve of her hip.

“I’m down right insulted that you would think that I would be easily turned by a pretty face,” Kaylee complains, her head shaking in disbelief. “Haven’t we been together long enough for you to be convinced that I’m not so fucking easy?” Hand comes off her hip so that she can jab a finger against his chest, her blue eyes flashing with the first sparks of anger. “You should damn well know me better by now.”

“Oh, so you’re defending his roses now?” Luther straightens away from the counter, stepping away from said flowers so that he can actually remove himself from temptation. Even though for a split second, there’s an urge to turn back around. At least he knows, it’d be worse if he did burn them. And he doesn’t want to be smelling burnt flowers either.

But he does turn back and face Kaylee, her claim that he’s overreacting possibly truth, but he’s up and rolling now. “You think I’m overreacting when a man like him brings you dinner and flowers?” Luther blows out a rough, humorless laugh. His head shakes too, a glance sent back towards the door, away from her and invisibly shooting daggers down the hall. “It’s not you I’m concerned about,” he says, exasperatedly. Luther takes the finger to the chest, attention and eyes brought back to her. He stares her down, expression mixed, mouth tight.

The statement coupled with that angry look from her sets his mind off on several things. Is he overreacting? Is Trenton actually harmless? The other guy’s got everything, practically, that she’d need. He’s also younger. Smarter, in a few more ways than Luther ever would be. But he’s suspicious nevertheless. Jealous. He can acknowledge that feeling blossomed in the spot that she’s jabbed her finger into.

Still, stubbornness wins out because Luther swallows down a counterargument and half turns with an effort made to stay out of prodding distance from Kaylee’s finger. “I’ll go talk to him,” he says evenly. Maybe a little too much so.

It has been long enough that she recognizes a bad idea when she hears it and that phrase was a big one. Straightening from the counter, Kaylee is a little too quick to snap out, “You will do no such thing,” in response to that threat to talk to Trenton. If he moves toward the door, he will find his way physically barred by the much smaller and rather furious telepath; even if he could just as easily push her aside.

“There is no reason to be concerned about him,” Kaylee insists trying to appeal to his common sense. “You’re forgetting, I’m a goddamn telepath. If I thought he was going to be a serious problem, I would just send him away.” Something she’d really rather not do if she can help it. She gave up manipulating men a long time ago. Hand spread out as she adds, “Let’s also not forget I’m a freakin’ cop, Luther. You don’t have to worry about me or him.”

In other words, she isn’t some princess that needs protecting from the other rowdy knights.

Luther does indeed move for the door, but finding his path blocked, pulls up short by a few inches between them. “Kaylee,” he grits out, fingers twitching at his sides and brow twitching together and down. “I haven’t just forgotten you’re a telepath, but you can’t send him away. Not that way.” Because it’s illegal for one. Nevermind that he’s likely used his powers for questionable reasons as well. If there were any proof.

Her addition that she’s a cop gets a slower exhale from the man, thus reminded that she does have the capability beyond mere telepathy to control a situation. “I’m not- I don’t question your intentions.” Only Trenton’s, despite her continued claims of the other man being innocent. Luther shakes his head again and rolls a gaze ceilingward, searching for something calmer, less heated in his feelings on this situation. And to fight down the urge to bulldoze his way into Trenton’s apartment without having to confront Kaylee in that physical sense.

When he finally drops his gaze back down to her, Luther sighs, fighting a grim expression off. “What do you want me to do?” he asks after a beat. “Because if he does start dropping off shit in front of your door…” He trails off, heading off the thought of what he might actually do if such a scenario were to occur.

“I want you to pay attention to what I have to say, you stubborn — stubborn man,” To help, hands reach up to bracket his face to keep him looking at her. Her words have lost some of the fight, they take on a gentler tone. “He isn’t a threat to you or me… or us. You make me feel safe, he doesn’t do that. He talks a pretty game, but that is all it is… talk. I’d be just another notch with him, a conquest; but, not you.” There is something in the way she says that, she is a telepath after all, she might have some insider knowledge.

“You chose me and I chose you,” she reminds him, a thumb brushing along the tension of his jaw.

Stepping closer, she goes up on the tip of her toes, planting a quick kiss. “Not to mention… He can’t keep me or Jojo warm like you.” She offers a hopeful smile. Hopeful, that maybe she can keep him from being arrested for assault. “Besides, Jojo doesn’t even like him. Hissed and ran the first time that man stepped into the apartment.”

Jojo’s judgment clearly has a lot of pull.

Face held by her hands, Luther remains warm to the touch and made a little hotter from the argument and his own insecure jealousies, a deeper down fear made more present by the physical presence of her neighbor. He’s taller, but doesn’t quite have the same looming quality at the moment when she holds him. The gentler words and touch drain the fight from him as he stands there. And the kiss she plants is a welcome reminder. A reassurance.

Lifting his hands, he moves closer still to wrap them around her shoulders, leaning down to place a chaste kiss to her forehead first. “Yeah well, those Bay Area guys don’t know what a real winter’s like either,” he adds to the logic of the argument. Trenton’s in for a snowy surprise come a few months’ time.

The cat really does have the final say in all of it, as in the end, they’re interrupted with an insistent meow from the feline waiting for certain someones to stop fighting and get on with dinner. Luther pulls back just enough distance to turn and look down at the cat, heaving a short sigh and relenting his willfulness. “Jojo knows what he’s doing,” he comments, nodding in the cat’s direction.

The tension she’s been feeling bleeds out at the kiss to her forehead. Kaylee doesn’t even try to hide the relief. Relaxed enough to give a huffed chuckle of amusement, she adds, “He’ll probably be crying like a little bitch the first time it snows.” She doesn’t add that she’ll probably be the one that has to listen to the whining.

Jojo gets a glance, but there is something she really needs to know first. Looking up at Luther, arms resting lightly behind his neck, she asks softly, “We okay?” This might not have been their first argument, but with each one there is a sense of worry. “I’m sorry, that my actions… or lack thereof, caused this. You’re my world and I wouldn’t do anything to risk that.”

“Knowing my luck, he’ll be the snowboarding type that runs off to the Rockies,” Luther grumbles a little, the bitterness lingering like a small bubbling cauldron. Her arms bring him back in, his own sliding down to around her waist and back. With a steadier gaze into her blue eyes, Luther nods slowly. “Yeah, we’re okay,” he confirms as she voices her worry. A faint smile reforms at the edges of his lips, tempered by the fact that she apologies. “Don’t,” he replies, shaking his head and pulling her up close, bringing his lips close to her cheek just along the corner of her own lips. “I’m really glad to hear that even after that, you’ll still choose me.”

He turns his head to kiss that corner before he extracts himself from her grasp. “Whether or not you’ll choose what I brought for dinner over his health bowl though, I won’t blame you if you want to try it out. But don’t blame me if it’s got no salt or flavor.” He ratchets a wryer smirk up and moves away to collect Jojo’s dinner from its place in the pantry. The cat probably gets an extra food incentive to like Luther more that night.

Come the following day, though, Kaylee finds her oh so friendly neighbor not so much so, and only mumbled greetings accompanying a bruised eye hidden under a cold pack.

July 2013

"Finding Jojo"

What should have been a nice dinner courtesy of Luther bringing over to Kaylee’s apartment some delectable choices from a local Persian cuisine shop-slash-deli has turned into a search-and-rescue. The bags of human food have been left sitting on the kitchen counter, and the pair are canvassing the area with a ceramic bowl of cat food and a bag of treats. Luther calls out in a low tone, nearly whispering, around the corners of the common hallway. “Jojo? Here boy, come get some dinner.” The man shakes the bowl around, kernels of kibble swirling with a supposedly pleasant sound meant to lure in cats. Like they should do in all the commercials.

He exhales a long sigh, looking both frustrated and slightly guilty. The cat had bolted out of the apartment for some reason. Maybe the home invasion of a scary repair man sent by the landlord of the building for maintenance spooked the feline. But it was Luther’s entrance that had startled the cat into running.

And now, he’s trying to find the elusive and mysterious creature known as the domestic house cat. This is going to be one challenging mission. Especially when he knows it’s a must-win. For Kaylee’s sake.

“Jojo?” Comes a call down one of the other corridors. “Kitty kitty.” It was cliche, but it tends to work. The worry is there in her tone. He was an indoor cat and had no skills for living out in the real world. Not to mention, that before there was Luther, the cat had been something to anchor her when Kaylee felt her loneliest.

“I should have locked him up in the bathroom,” Kaylee says while wringing her hands together, as she comes into view, clearly putting on the blame on her own shoulders. “What if he finds an open window… or or… ends up in the elevator?” They had been looking long enough, that the telepath might actually look like she might cry. Eyes glassy with the threat of tears.

The swirling sound of kibble in a bowl precedes Luther wherever he can be located in the area. Eventually he pauses in his search and looks back to Kaylee, grey eyes full of apology and brow furrowed. Her worry is making him worry. “There’s still places we haven’t looked. We can knock on a few doors,” he adds in suggestion. Casting a glance back towards the elevator, the man considers.

Then he gently takes her arm, tugging her along with him. “Leave the door open a little,” he says as he sets the food dish down behind the cracked door so it acts as a door stop. Before they head down the hallway to ask neighbors though, he turns her to face him. Eyes steady on her face, he bolsters his tone with a steady note. “Jojo’s going to be fine. He’ll have his fun out there and turn up.” Injecting a will into the statement, Luther sounds as reassuring as he can make it out to be. Certainty colors his voice.

Allowing herself to be turned towards him, Kaylee doesn’t look at him right away, her gaze resting on his chest. She really shouldn’t be reacting this way; but, what she can’t get herself to admit outloud is that with everything that has been happening lately, she knew she’d need that cat. She felt like she was unraveling and Jojo was keeping her from completely falling apart.

“I hope your right,” Kaylee murmurs, finally looking up at Luther. It was these little moments like this that had her clinging to what they have. “I’m sorry about dinner.” It was probably getting cold by now. “I just… he isn’t a young guy anymore. He—” she trails off closing her eyes. “I’m sorry, I’m not trying to make you feel guilty. I- I’m just worried.”

Luther exhales slowly, reaching a hand up to stroke her hair in a brush of reassurance and to show he’s not insulted or even upset by the dinner interruption. “It’s from a deli, it’s going to be cold in ten minutes anyway,” he says with a slight chuckle. She probably won’t laugh, but it’s worth a shot.

He shakes his head, her worry understandable as he then lifts a hand to knock on the first door of the occupant at the far end of the hall. There’s a few more doors before it’s too many negatives. The cat isn’t anywhere, they haven’t seen Jojo, or heard anything remotely feline in nature.

One of the neighbors and their large dog just closes the door in their face. What’s up with that.

A lack of a better idea has Luther turning to the distraught woman beside him, his head ducking in apology. “Listen. Let’s go back to the apartment. You can get something to eat, I’ll… check the elevator.”

There is a ghost of a smile at his attempt at a joke. It was a fair assessment. It doesn’t reach her eyes, but he can see that she appreciates the attempt.

As he knocks on doors and each one is a dead end, her hand seeks his other, fingers lacing with his much warmer ones. There is a comfort in that warmth, something she’d gotten use to over the years that they have been together. She told him once that she felt safe when she was surrounded by that warmth, so her fingers tighten on his hand unwilling to let go.

The heel of her hand is rubbing at the tears in her eyes and fingers brushing away the dampness on her cheeks. Sniffling she gives a little jerking nod of her head, but then she shakes it, “No… come with me. You need to eat, too.” Her words wavering with still unshed tears of worry. “We’ll leave the door open. Maybe… maybe we’ll get lucky and he’ll show up after.”

Stepping close, she goes up on her toes and presses a quick kiss to his cheek, “Thank you for trying, handsome.”

There’s a good portion of Luther that is stubborn. The willpower doesn’t diminish, and he looks like he might insist that they try a few more doors too. But the small, sad smile and her fingers laced in his stall his argument.

He knows one thing. He can’t stand to see her cry.

“Alright,” he relents to her request to go with her. “Maybe a quick bite, then we’ll go after him again.” The man leads the way, though only a half pace ahead and ever watchful for a possible furred blur that might try to sneak past some way around or another. Jojo the trip hazard could be clever that way.

When they return to the apartment door, though, Luther comes to a halt and frowns at the threshold. He looks down, noting to Kaylee with a nod for the overturned bowl and spill of kibble crumbs along the floor. The door’s also open more than they’d left it. He lifts a finger, holding it up to his lips in the sign for quiet, then slowly edges the door a little further open. In case of intruders.

There is a sort of change that comes over Kaylee when she notices the door as well. Cautious and alert, she gives him a brief nod. However, he sees her eyes unfocus a moment later, her head tilting a little as she concentrates on listening, but not with her ears; as unseen by him, tendrils seek out any sign of people inside. It takes effort to extend her range.

Finally, lets loose of it and turns to Luther. “No one there,” she declares softly. Doesn’t mean there isn’t someone if they have the ability to hide from her, but that is doubtful.

She is confident enough in this fact, to step around him and push open the door.

A little further in, Kaylee looks towards the kitchen and gives a soft gasp and disappears around the corner. The reason? Luther will hear it… The rather loud chirring meow of a very hungry cat. The formerly missing Jojo was sitting in the exact spot where his bowl is suppose to be. The cat is in the process of getting scooped up by a very relieved telepath. “You little shit… where were you?” she asks with an emotional chuckle. Her and the cat bump foreheads, her fingers digging into the scruff of the cats neck. On his part, Jojo is all chirps and purrs.

Luther’s body blocks a portion of the doorway, the man using it as a physical shield. But Kaylee’s declaration of nobody there, along with her bold step around him into the apartment, has him a moment too late to stop her. No hiss of her name, though, as he merely follows after her in a pace or two behind, expression much warier, edging on the adrenaline pushing into his veins.

Her gasp and disappearance around the corner out of his sight line near instantly start the man after her… and then he hears the feline. He rounds the corner to see Kaylee pouring affection onto the formerly missing cat, and Luther watches silently for a moment. The bond, the interaction between her and Jojo, is perhaps far deeper than the one he shares with her. Jojo had been there far earlier than he was. And still was, when he would be busy with work.

But a small part of him that sits beside the vaguest sense of envy for the cat is his own relief. “There he is,” Luther finally says after a long pause to give the pair their moment. He comes over in those moments, reaching out to scritch the top of the cat’s head between the ears. Then he leans over to put a quick kiss onto Kaylee’s cheek. “Guess the adage holds true, the way to any male’s heart is through the stomach.”

He chuckles lightly, and then points an accusatory finger at Jojo. “Don’t think you’re off the hook for worrying her though.” Not that he’s serious about it. The pair will probably wind up in the same positions later, curled up one atop the other.

Jojo does not in anyway seem regretful about the distress he caused his humans. The scolding finger get a curious sniff and then a furry face rubbed on it one way and then the other. As if such a thing could make everything better.

This gets a chuckle from Kaylee who gives first the cat and then Luther affectionate looks. “Now that I have both of my men here, let’s eat. I’m starving.” Stress is great for appetites, especially, Kaylee’s.

Of course, Jojo might find himself offered a treat or two from Kaylee’s plate.

Maybe that was his plan all along.

September 2014

"Telepathy is Useless (Against A Cold)"

This is completely unfair.

For over a month they had planned this weekend, during a time when their relationship was holding steady. One of their rare weekends where they could just not deal with the world. Tell people “F.U. I’m on vacation.” To remind each other why they loved each other so intensely. And what happens?

Kaylee comes down with a cold.

Not just any cold, but a monster of a cold. High fever, chills, runny snotty nose, a nasty cough. She wanted to kill whoever came to work sick and passed it on to her before her vacation. So instead of ‘Netflix and Chill’ all weekend, she was huddled on the couch, covered in a handmade quilt her Granny made long ago; sporting her light teal tank top and black sleep pants covered in little cartoon mochas cups. Jojo curled in a happy little lump on her lap. He is always a fan of couch surfing. That was the worse call she had ever had to make, to tell Luther that she was too sick for the weekend. Also told him to stay away, lest he come down with it too.

Taking the thermometer out of her mouth, Kaylee turns to look at where the little red line sits. “100 degrees, Jojo,” Kaylee stuffily murmurs, the cats ears twitch her way, but he doesn’t move otherwise. Tossing the thermometer on the coffee table, she attempts a growl of frustration, but only ends up coughing. “This freakin’ sucks,” she gasps out, falling back on the pile of pillows she has on the couch.

She had told him to stay away. But something in her voice, aside from the illness-deepened hoarseness and coughing that had accompanied it, has lured Luther back. Maybe it’s the feverish symptoms that impede her mental focus that keep her from sensing him up until there’s the sound of keys turning the lock of her apartment door. Jojo’s the first to realize who it is as the cat looks up with perked ears, then hops down from the telepath’s lap and stretches out languidly before trotting off to greet the man at the door. By weaving about his legs.

The rustle of bags being shifted around in his hands follows with the characteristic timbre of Luther’s voice in an attempt to be quiet. “Jojo, come on,” he half-exasperatedly scolds the cat. There’s no helping the feline’s tendencies, really. “Where is she, though? Bedroom? Couch?” Yes, he’s really talking to the cat like the cat’s chirrups are understandable. Even though he’s no animal telepath, so it’s odd conversation.

His noises move to the kitchen where Luther sets the bags he’s brought down and he starts to extract various items. Cupboards open and close. The refrigerator as well. A plate setting down on the counter. A drink glass. The sink runs. A pause to scratch the cat’s head that explores the contents of the bags.

At the sound of a key in the door has Kaylee going very still, she hadn’t been paying any attention to the mental voices around her. All she could think about was the fact that she couldn’t breathe. When the cat jumps off her lap, the telepath huddles further down into the quilt, cause God! What a mess she must look. The quilt is drawn up to cover half her face, as she listens to the the activity just beyond the back of the couch.

For all that she wants to be quiet and unassuming, about that time a sneeze hits. Announcing exactly where Kaylee can be found. Another sneeze follows if he needs confirmation that the couch is indeed where she is.

The jig is up now, she Kaylee pushes herself up to sit and look over the back of the couch. Her hair is a freakin’ mess, she might have smudges of dark makeup under her eyes, but even more so, she looks flush and exhausted. “Hey, handsome,” she voice sounds just as crappy as she looks.

Activity in the kitchen pauses at the first sneeze. She knows that he’s heard it, and the second sneeze seals the deal. “Bless you,” is the man’s natural response. When she dares to pick herself up into a position where she can view him, he’s leaning on the counter eyes directed right at her couch shield, waiting, gaze shining with some amusement. Not too much though, because she’s taken ill.

He winces visibly at her greeting in that sympathetic way most do. But he greets her back with sincerity as he comes over from the kitchen, leaving the small pot of tomato soup to simmer. Once he’s close enough, he bends to a knee beside her on the couch and reaches a hand over to brush at the messy hair framing her face. “Hey there Beautiful,” he says gently. “I know you wanted me to stay away, but.” There’s a beat as he looks over the couch back to the kitchen. “I got you some tomato soup. Lady at the counter said it’s the vitamin C and antioxidants that’ll be good for you.”

Even for him, Kaylee’s skin feels warm to the touch, a little damp; though that is a good thing. Maybe her fever is working on breaking. “You do not want to catch this. I don’t remember the last time I felt this rundown.” She tucks a pillow against her cheek, like it’s hard to even keep her head up. He is offered an affectionate smile, though she looks very tired. Hard to sleep when your sinuses ache or you have to breath through her mouth. “Still, I’m glad your here,” she admits.

Her smile pulls a little more to one side, as she adds, “It’s adorable. You taking care of me.” Fingers brush along Luther’s jaw, but even such a simple thing is work for her illness-sapped muscles. “ ‘m sorry about our weekend. I was looking forward to it.”

Despite the warnings of not catching the bug she has, Luther bends forward and lightly kisses her sweat dampened forehead, running his fingers to push her hair back. He might be fussing a little bit with those blonde locks, not too certain on what he can do otherwise. The comment about his taking care of her and the brush of her fingers along his jaw get a softened smile, one that fades just slightly with her apology. Luther shakes his head. “As far as I’m concerned, this hasn’t changed the weekend any,” he replies with another sweep of his hand over her hair. He might marvel a little bit each time, how soft her hair feels.

“You stay there,” he says with a slight tease as he pushes back up to his feet. Not like he’s expecting her to get up, but there’s always the niggling thought in the back of his mind somewhere that this is a fever dream. She might disappear, who knows. But the man feels the need to say it aloud to make it real, make her stay. And then he goes to prep the soup he’d brought with him. There’s more sounds of things being moved around in the kitchen. Why it takes so much effort for some soup might be a little puzzling.

Jojo takes the place of Luther, the cat returning to the warmth of the couch and the woman on it.

“Yes, sir,” Kaylee murmurs, giving him a mock salute. “I won’t move from this spot.” In fact, after grabbing a tissue, the telepath huddles down into the quit more and pulls it to her cheek. This action dislodges the cat who only seems mildly put off that he has to adjust his position. He starts purring loudly, when Kaylee starts lazily petting him.

Eyes drift shut and her mind drifts a little, just listening to the sound of Luther working in the kitchen. Despite the cold, there is a smile on her lips. Just having him there, she felt a little better already. She drifts in and out of a doze as she concentrates on the sound of him; mentally and physically. It’s only interrupted by the suddenly trembling of muscles as a new bout of chills come on.

A pleasant scent of tomato soup gradually wafts through the apartment, as advertised. But there’s also the sound of the stove going with a pan being placed on a burner, of a light sizzle of butter. When she listens in to Luther’s mental state, she’ll find him mentally going over things. Ingredients for a grilled cheese. Check the soup. Oops, that’s a little lukewarm… heat it before serving. Bread didn’t burn, did it? Nope, good.

The steps go on until he’s turned things off and comes around the couch bearing a tray with said bowl of soup and sandwich neatly sliced down in a triangular cut. There’s also a glass of water and a couple of tabs of symptom abating medicine. Luther smiles gently, waiting and watching her drifting in between dozes. But the trembling washes the smile in a more concerned light. Shifting the tray into a hand, he plucks a small cat treat off of it and entices Jojo to move so he can set the rest of things down after.

“How long’s it been, a few days?” He looks a little strained himself at finally seeing her so under the weather.

The hum of Luther’s mind and the smell of food in close proximity to her, starts to pull her out of latest doze; his voice wakes her up. Tired muscles stretch, but she almost has no energy to do so. Yawning, Kaylee shifts herself into a sitting position, pulling more pillows against her back, though she still stays huddled in the quilt. The food is eyed hungrily. She might not have had the energy to care about food on her own. “A couple of days, yeah.” The last word said around a light chattering of teeth.

There is no real move to eat right away, there is an odd expression on her face. The way he is taking care of her, seems to touch her deeply. When she finally looks at him, it’s with tears in her eyes; but there is a smile on her lips. “You know…” Kaylee starts softly, looking back at the food and gingerly taking one of the triangles. “The girls at the coffee shop have been teasing me.” Amusement starts to seep into her groggy words. “Keep telling me I need to just marry you and take you off the market officially, before someone can steal you. In fact, I think Jenny has her eyes on you.”

She starts to chuckle at the notion, but is reduced to coughing. Turning her head into the crook of her arm, it is at least a wet cough. Her voice is a little rougher and exhausted, when she can speak again.

“But I’m starting to think they’re right.”

Sliding into an open spot of couch cushion beside her feet, Luther lightly rubs a hand along the quilt covering her legs and feet. As she sits up, he shifts position to be beside her, nevermind the possibility of contagion. For now, he’s concerned about her.

When she looks back at him, through tears and smiles tells him of the coffee shop girls teasing her, he lets out a low huff. “Jenny,” he grunts out the name in an obvious show that said eyes have not been exchanged in any reciprocal fashion, “needs to focus on not diluting the brew so much with all that cream.” But when she says that “they might be right”, he turns more fully to her.

Grey eyes scan up and down, studying with as inscrutable and objective a gaze as he can manage. Which isn’t very much, because she can see his jawline just behind the lower cheeks twitch and tighten in that manner he has when he’s turning things over in his mind. Is this what she truly wants? Or is it pressure from the coffee shop rumor mill and betting pool? What should he say? This isn’t what he was expecting to face in the front end of the weekend they’d had planned. But here it is, the looming concept of marriage. Of securing him, somehow through this institution.

Ultimately, Luther pushes back up to his feet and steps a couple paces away. A hand lifts, scrubbing at his stubbled jaw, then rubbing at the back of his neck. He turns back, blinking down at her and his head tilting slightly to a side. “Is that what you think? Is that what you want, or did one of the girls put you up to it just to push ahead in the pool?” Because that’s a possibility, too, that crosses his mind. And Luther’s thought sours on the idea, if that’s what happened.

But at the moment, his deeper thought rises to the surface when he looks back to Kaylee, sitting there in her worst condition - sick as a dog, messy hair frazzled, pale without any effort to brush up her looks the way she might have, wrapped in a lumpy quilt - and he realizes, recognizes the feeling that is undeniably there.

Moving back to stand in front of her, Luther slides down to a knee before her and reaches a hand out for hers, to cover her fingers holding the grilled cheese triangle. Grey eyes stare into her blue, and he doesn’t looks away. “Is this what you really want to do? Right here? Like this?” He asks her quietly, a slightly crooked smile twitching up at the corners of his lips.

What was meant as a simple compliment about the type of man he is, of how lucky she is to have him in her life and that people do too. It suddenly becomes something a little more serious with his reaction. She watches him fidget with a guarded expression, while slowly chewing her food.

“Did— ?” Kaylee seems to bristle a little at the question.“Why would they have any bearing on any decision I make for my life?” Her chin lifting a bit, though the fevered flush of her cheeks doesn’t help with her trying to look insulted by the idea. “And I am a little hurt that you would think that I would allow someone to manipulate me like that. Just cause they said I should lock that down, doesn’t mean I was listening to them.” She gives a bit of a sniff, but that is probably due to the flu. “I’m just saying they might be right, but that is me feeling that…”

Of course, she’ll look completely startled when he does down on one knee next to her, right there. He’ll find her fingers a little greasy, thanks to that half eaten triangle. Kaylee starts to say what’s on her mind and then stops. Her other hand covers his, her fingers very warm. Though she had meant it as a compliment of sorts, seeing him there kneeling, it made her truly realize that; “I do want this,” Kaylee admits softly, not breaking eye contact with him. “And not because they have some dumb pool. You— you have amazed me at every turn. Through the good and the bad. Seems like everyday I fall a little deeper… today… this….” She motions to the tray, “I— I’m speechless. I love you, Luther.” He might think her tone suggests there is a but in there…

He’d be right.

“But, not like this,” Kaylee smiles weakly, through her hands tremble in his from the brief and mild onset of the chills. She swallows and looks down. “I mean— look at me right now,” She whispers softly, “I’m a complete mess.” As if to punctuate it, she has to turn away to cough again, face pressed into her arm. Though, even when done she sits there for a moment.

When she does turn back, there are tears in her eyes, again; but not from coughing. Her voice is hoarse with the mistreatment, though. “Besides,” the telepath reaches up to brush a finger tip across his forehead, “Are you really ready for that? You’ve been here already once. I hear it now and then,” she says pressing her finger gently to his temple. Then she lets her hand fall to rest against his jawline, feeling the tension there.

“I can wait,” for his sake. “As long as needed. I am that in love with you, Luther Bellamy.”

Luther winces slightly as Kaylee mentions that she feels hurt, but he commits to the action he takes when he gets on a knee and looks her right in the eyes. And holds her sandwich-holding hands in his. The man watches, waits as she goes on, a smile growing and reaching the storm-grey eyes.

And waits for that 'but'. He's expecting it. "You're right, you look bit of a mess." It's just fact. But it doesn't fade the smile on him. If anything, it deepens. And falters just momentarily with the brush of her finger on his skin, the mention of his past knocking on the mental door. But it doesn't open. He leans against it to keep it shut. Maybe he isn't ready for that again, not yet, and she's hit that nail on the head.

But he leans forward to press a kiss to that too-warm-yet-chilled forehead of hers, careful not to accidentally knock the tray over and spill all that soup. "Thank you," he speaks softly, breathing lightly as he lingers there close to her, "And I love you too, Kaylee Thatcher."

A glance cuts over to Jojo who has been staring at the pair of them, and Luther bites back a laugh, pushing back up from his lean and slipping back onto a section of the couch beside her. "Think Jojo wants us to stop this nonsense and pick a movie already," he says, reaching for the remote on the table to turn the TV on.

Chin tipping up in a bit of playful defiance, Kaylee states, “Not nonsense. We’re just sticking a pin in it for a little bit.” Her head turns a bit to look at the cat out of the corner of her eye, Jojo sits there, tail tip twitching impatiently. “But you’re right, I think Jojo would like us to pick a movie already.”

Grabbing the tray, Kaylee scoots so that he can sit next to her, allowing her to curl up in the space between his side and the couch. A much better spot than the pillows in her opinion. The food will be devoured while they are debating movies. Maybe some kind of cop movie where she can point out all the discrepancies and gripe about how unreal it all is.

However, not even half way through whatever movie they decided on, Kaylee will suddenly go silent. Her back pressed against the comforting warmth of his side, her arms lightly wrapped around one of his, her head resting against it using it as a pillow. For the first time since coming down with this horrible cold, she is peacefully asleep; though with her nose stopped up, she might be lightly snoring, too.

November 9, 2014

"The Case of Elisabeth Harrison"

The first rays of sunlight were already sliding across the covers. This strip of light is occupied by the loaf that is Jojo, the tags on his collar glinting in the bright light. It was one of those lazy Sundays, luckily, there shouldn’t be any sudden phone calls for either of them. At the moment, Kaylee has no plans to get out of bed, though the growing brightness does manage to stir her from a deep slumber.

Questing fingers manage to find the edge of her nightstand and eventually the cellphone sitting on it. WIth one eye cracked open, she squints at the time displayed, superimposed over a selfie of them someplace snowy and looking happy. Six in the morning?! “Screw that…” she murmurs and drops the phone back into place, and pulls the covers up higher, tucking it tight against her chin.

Jojo’s not the only one to be stirred by the sunlight as the rays slant across Luther’s half-covered shoulders where the cat is actually laying atop the man’s broad frame. The shift of movement starts the chain reaction. Where Luther doesn’t really open his eyes at first, but upon hearing Kaylee’s voice, moves his arm, snaking it beneath the sheets to wrap around her waist. That in turn moves the rest of him, which earns a low grumbled meow of protest from Jojo for the disturbance. How dare he.

“Time is it?” asks Luther, sound muffled by the fact that his face is half in a pillow.

“I’m not tellin’,” is the drowsy response he gets back from Kaylee, her hand moving to pillow her cheek. Not that he can see it, but her brows furrow a little.

Defiant against the dawning of the day, the telepath huddles further into the covers and presses her back against the warmth he radiates daily. Once comfortable, she gives a content sigh. “It’s the weekend. Tha’s all you need to know.” As if it is was a good enough of an excuse to withhold important information.

Her head shifts a bit in a half-assed attempt to look back, so that she can tease, “You got some hot date waitin’ for you?” The blue eye closest to him, cracks open enough to vaguely see him there.

It is the weekend. A huffed sound into his pillow sounds like an mock-indignant snort for her withholding of information as Luther pulls in his arm, and her with it.

Jojo is forced to abandon the sun ray spot on the man's shoulders as he turns, leaving the cat to find a different spot to lie in, which happens to be the spot on the floor in front of the bedroom door. Trip hazard activate.

Neither of the humans seem to be getting up any time soon though, at least not at the moment. Luther shifts about until he has his face nearly on the same pillow as her, close enough that the furthest strands are tickling at his nose and chin. Close enough he can breathe in the hints of lavender vanilla.

Her tease gets a curl of a smile that sneaks into his sleep-deepened, throaty reply, "Mmhm, she's waiting for me right now. Soon as I get up, going to meet her for a mocha. It's inevitable." He lets go of her at that moment, but it's to lever himself up enough so that he can drape himself over her. So he can find her mouth with his for a kiss.

He adds, just before lips touch, "Unless, you somehow manage to stop me."

Oh no, however will she manage.

There is a huffed chuckle when he moves in for a kiss, hand sneaking out from under the covers to press gently to the prickly stubble of his cheek. “Oh, I have a few ideas,” she murmurs before letting him kiss her.

In fact, let her show him. Since she can’t speak, Kaylee cheats the system a little and finds choice memories in his head to strengthen and tease him with. It is a wild morning that he is promised in those telepathically offered memories. Of course, with memories is everything associated with them and Kaylee is eager to-

Bad boys, Bad boys.

What'cha gonna do?

What'cha gonna do when they come for you?

On the nightstand her phone rattles and chimes out that measure of ‘Bad Boys.’

Breaking the kiss abruptly to look over at her phone, “Shiiiit..” Kaylee hisses out and makes a grab for the phone. Work was calling on her day off and that meant it was important.

Then pressed against her lips, Luther slightly parts his to take in a breath without breaking the contact between them. The tease of her reminders, the choices of memories she picks to place in suggestion, get a much more wanting groan out of him. His hands reach around behind her shoulders, fingers tangling into her hair, elbows planted as leverage as he adjusts his positioning for what he feels he’s been invited to do…

Until work calls in to Kaylee’s phone.

A shot of annoyance slips out from the man as well, as he’s denied the bit of continuation he’d hoped. In retaliation, he tries to turn her away still. “Don’t answer it,” he says into the well of her craned neck where the base of it meets her collarbone. He doesn’t prevent her from doing so if she really wants to reach for the mobile phone, though, as there is a certain level of respect for the device that ties them to their work. But at the moment his occupation, or pre-occupation, is with her.

The weight of his body has a familiarity to it, the way their legs tangle in the sheets, it was a moment that held the promise of something deeply intimate. While she wants to continue with those shared thoughts, the chiming of her phone is a pretty good distraction. Fingers managing to curl around it; but, the brush of his lips against that sensitive part of her neck, when he speaks, that about undoes her and leaves her trembling. The song cuts out as it moves over to voicemail and for a hot moment Kaylee ponders tossing the phone aside.

Of course, about the time she makes that decision to drop the phone back down; nails trailing along his neck and into his close cut hair, the phone starts up again. This prompts a sound of irritation and need at the back of her throat; and, the phone snatched off the table. Kaylee smacks his back gently and murmurs “Behave” against his ear, teeth nipping at the curve of it in a tease.

Only then does she slides her thumb across the screen. There is no way to hide the fact that something was going on, because she sounds breathless even to her ears. “Thatcher here.”

Feeling her nails trail up his neck, Luther arches against them the same way Jojo might do the same. His own fingers play at the roots of her hair; she can feel them curl, a heated touch emanating subconsciously before one his hands releases to slide back around and plant at the space on the mattress between her face and the pillow. Following the line of her neck, up closer to her chin, he draws with his lips as a brush.

The phone rings again. The line staggers. She tells him to behave. There's a moment - brief, rebellious, defiant - where Luther purposefully nips her back just under her jaw before he slides off to the side, laying his cheek to her shoulder. He smiles crookedly, the prickle of the stubble on his jaw making his point.

As she answers the call, his hands slip away and down to her waist beneath the sheets. But they lay still, in wait for her to receive the information on the line.

“Hmm?” Kaylee asks casually. “What? No. You didn’t interrupt anything.” Her lips curl into a mischievous smile, pressing them quietly against the line where Luther’s forehead meets his hairline. “Mmhmm,” she answers to whatever is being said on the other side, fingers of her free hand skimming lightly over his skin, nails teasing.

“Diaz says ‘hello’,” Kaylee chuckles a little as she adds, hooking a leg over his. “And his apologies for the —” she rolls her eyes skyward with a sigh. “I can’t believe I am repeating this… cockblock.” Clearly, it was pretty obvious what they were doing. “Is there something important you needed to tell me, Diaz?”

The nails pause on their journey and he can feel all of her whole body go tense. Whatever is being said, it isn’t good.There is a flatness to the tone on the other end, that much he can hear. “What? How?” Kaylee asks softly, a slight hitch in her voice. There is a sound of disbelief at what she is being told, “Copycat maybe. He could be considered an easy scapegoat even if he had been proven innocent.” There is a wavering in her voice, a building of emotions that she is trying to control. “I’m gonna guess Woods there already?” The detective not really a fan of the Unity Enforcement Officer who seemed to be in all the right places. “Shit. You still on scene?” There is an urgent pat on Luther’s shoulder for him to release her, so that she can roll out of bed and hunt down clothes. Well, more than the form hugging pink tank and panties. “Alright, I’m coming down.”

He was doing well in being quiet, though Luther’s efforts were bordering on getting her to be anything but. That is, until her coworker on the other side of the line sends his regards and apologies. Then, the man buries his face into her collar, a snorted laugh of his expelling a soft burst of air over her skin. As if he were tickled.

The other side of her phone line would laugh too, but the relay of information is much more important and dire. The tension in Kaylee’s body at the delivery of it is noted, because Luther stops laughing altogether, too. His head lifts and he props himself up at her words, the pat on his shoulder acknowledged as he leans away onto one elbow. The man watches intently, a study in cautious curiosity. He knows better than to ask questions. But it doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have them.

The mention of Woods gets an upticked brow. Recognition. Then, Luther turns away to sit up at the side of the bed, giving the shoulders beneath his grey tank a rolling stretch.

There is a pause in her preparation, the phone switches hands and there is a flash of anger; Diaz is possibly trying to discourage her. She fires back with an emotional, plea, “Harrison was my partner when she was PD, Diaz. I should be there. I— I should—” Her head shakes, a tear sliding down her cheek. However, there is a sudden change in her demeanor. A determination. “I’m coming down there,” she growls out through her teeth and disconnects the call against any other protest.

While she’s getting dressed, Luther pauses in his stretching to silently listen. The change in her tone is obvious enough that it gets his attention, and he looks over his shoulder, eyeing her sidelong. But he doesn’t speak, letting the important phone call continue uninterrupted. A brief look is sent to Jojo the cat who remains sprawled in front of the door.

Looks like it’s just you and me and the coffee machine again today.

Kaylee catches Luther’s thought, as she is pulling on a red button up shirt; pushing arms through the sleeves. Though, she stops short of buttoning it, her attention is focused on him through a blur of tears. Her feet make barely any sound on the carpet, as she makes her way around the bed; until she is standing in front of him, pants are tossed on the chair next to the bed.

The sense of urgency is still there, but she feels the need to take this moment.

Arms slide around his neck as she settles her slight form into his lap, face tucked against the curve of his neck with a barely contained sob. He can feel the dampness, feel the tears as they fall on his own skin. Whatever news Diaz had delivered it was devastating to the telepath. She’ll cling to him for several long moments, curled up against the warmth of him. Finding comfort in his arms.

Soon though, Kaylee will pull away after making a tearful mess of his shoulder. Fingers brush at the tears left on her lashes, while she tries to calm her emotions; breath hitching still. “I’m sorry… I just… “ She slides off his lap, after planting a light kiss against his jaw. She just really needed that.

Fingers reach out and push through his short hair, nails scraping lightly against his scalp. “I have to go, but don’t think that we are through, yet,” she says softly, the words gentle if sad as her fingers trail down behind his ears and find their way to the rough stubble of his jaw. Angling his chin up, as she leans her own head down to where foreheads meet, “You are not off the hook, I’m going to need you later, I’m sure,” she informs him, her lips close to his.

If the red shirt she has on doesn’t catch Luther’s attention again by the sheer color entering his peripheral vision, it’s the sound of her pants flumping over the chair back, the scent of her entering back into his airspace, then the return of her fully into his line of sight. He stills as she settles back onto him and cries against his neck. As she clings to him, Luther wraps a supporting hand around her waist, a turn of his head lays a comforting cheek against her hair.

And he lets her take all the time she needs, providing no pressure to hurry the process along, no brushing aside of the emotion.

His eyes nearly close at the light touch of her nails, but the words she speaks next open them up again, a serious, grey eyed gaze meeting hers. “Oh yeah?” His reply to her need of him sees him sitting up that much more to finish the distance between her lips and his. But he keeps that kiss brief, because then he leans away. It’s a short, faint tease, but also a promise.

“Go on. See what Diaz was trying to keep you away from,” he tells her with a short exhale and pushing a wry, crooked smile up to try and humor her into a better mood. “And when you get back… I’m all yours.”

Straightening, she moves to start buttoning her shirt. “I’ll hold you to that,” reddened eyes on him, even while she finishes putting the last button in place.

Her smiles curls little into a mischievous one as she adds, with amusement coloring her tone, even if it has a hard time reaching her eyes. “By the way, I know you were joking, but if I ever find out there is someone else waiting for you elsewhere… I’ll fuck her up.” The whole attempt at sound tough is ruined by a sniffle and tear stained cheeks.

Still, she leans even closer so that he has to look at her, “You’re mine, handsome.”

Luther remains leaning back, hands supporting him on the mattress, watching her dress. Strategizing for later, perhaps. But mostly, behaving. When she puts up the statement that she’d mess up whoever he might have on the side, he gains a very humored glint to his eyes. Her lean forward draws his gaze up at her dominant loom. The claim she lays down gets a slow nod.

The only thing he says in reply sounds both coy and genuine at once. “Hurry back, Beautiful.”

It doesn’t take her long to finish dressing, pulling on a black jacket over her shoulder rig and personal firearm. Another quick kiss for Luther and a moment to crouch by a rather comfortable and lazy Jojo to show him some love. Then she is whirlwind out the door, but only after coming back to grab her keys.

If the call hadn’t been about the murder of a former work colleague and short time partner, Kaylee would have given Diaz hell for interrupting her Sunday morning. By the end of the day, when she returns home with tear dampened lashes, she’ll need that distraction.

A distraction from her own sense of mortality.

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