Fast as You Can


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Scene Title Fast as You Can
Synopsis Kaylee and Joseph travel back to the winter of 1989, shortly before Lynette's twelfth birthday, to prevent one of Samuel's followers from cutting her young life abruptly short.
Date December 5, 1989

The old bridge is a steel behemoth with flakes of rust for scales and girders for bones, a sleeping giant that only rumbles to life after dark when the freight trains destined to pass through Los Angeles on their way to the Mexican border thunder over the tracks and safely cross the muddy river that churns several hundred feet below. It's a popular spot with the local youth, so infrequently patrolled by the police that the abandoned buildings on both sides of the bridge are covered in vibrant graffiti despite the chain-link fence surrounding the property.

This might have something to do with the fact that nobody cares: out here, an old gas station with boarded up windows has a tangle of weeds growing out through the gaps in the planks and the cracks in the pavement, and the only business still in operation for several blocks in either direction is small strip club with tinted windows and a sign that reads Boobie Bungalow but won't light up until the blue velvet sky is a little darker.

The two teenage boys sitting close to the center of the bridge with long, gangly legs clad in jeans dangling over the side share a package of cigarettes between them. They're not old enough to purchase them legally, but all the way out here there's no one to tell them not to smoke. Jamie, the darker, more handsome of the pair holds the package out in offering to the blonde girl sitting beside him. Allan the Less Attractive already has his lit and dangling from the corner of his mouth. Crouching down, he picks up a rock from between the tracks and hurls it over the side of the bridge, a glance and a smile shot toward the smaller brunette on the blonde's other side as if to ask: Wanna try?

"You never told us you had a sister, Lynette," Jamie teases.

Los Angeles, California

December 5, 1989

It's a journey, trying to become one of the popular kids. And Lynette has been working pretty hard at it this past school year. And sometimes… you have to juggle things. Things like when you're sort of babysitting your dad's friend's kid and then the cool boys ask you to go out smoking. Well, she couldn't just abandon little Ronnie, since she actually does like the kid and does see her as a bit of a little sister, so… Veronica got dragged along. Which is the impetus behind Lynette giving Jamie a playful shove at his tease. Playful, because he's the cute one.

"Shut up, ya jerk," she says, also playfully, as she takes one of those cigarettes for herself. "Ronnie, don't mind these guys. They're alright," she adds to the girl, her tone so carefully bored. They're alright, not so very cool like she'd be saying to her girl friends in the morning.

Little Ronnie is the queen bee of her own school, an hour south of here, though it's not so hard to be popular in the second grade. Then, one doesn't have to smoke or drink or do things that are illegal to be cool. One only has to have the cutest trapper keeper and have parents that let you invite every kid in your class to your birthday parties and have sleepovers and horses to ride in the trails or a yacht to take out on the water from time to time.

The small girl darts a glance at the cigarette that Lynette takes, eyes widening just a touch, but she won't tell. Lynette is always nice to her, and so the kids' creed is fully in place: no tattling here.

She flashes a slightly buck-toothed grin at Allan and picks up a rock for herself to heave off the bridge.

"Nice throw," Allan remarks. He pulls from his cigarette and, smoke leaking from his nostrils, removes it from his mouth to tap ash onto the gravel. Freshmen. "You play softball, Ron?"

Jamie folds the package of cigarettes shut and tucks it back into his jacket pocket. It's never really cold in southern California, not like it's cold on the east coast right now. Winter in Los Angeles is mild, and a few weeks before Christmas it's rain rather than snow that the youths are dressed for even though the sky is mostly clear and the worst they have to worry about is the breeze whipping across the bridge.

A block and a half away from the river, the Boobie Bungalow's side door explodes open, and a tall man with pronounced eyebrows positioned above soulful eyes of darkest brown is manhandled out into the alley by the club's plainclothes security guard. "I don't know how the fuck you got in," the guard barks, pushing Joseph up against the dumpster, Kaylee hot on his heels, "but stay out."

That's the thing about being flung through time and space. Like Veronica with her rock, Hiro's aim isn't always entirely accurate.

Lynette smokes it, too, Ronnie. Don't be upset! But dedication is the name of the game. "Are you guys going to Debbie's party?" It is the holiday season, and that means a rush of parties and gatherings, for adults and kids alike. "I heard her dad got a live band or something." But Lynette finds it all very boring. Pft. Live band. Her dad could get two live bands. And make them battle each other.

When the commotion starts over at the oh so reputable establishment, the blonde's head turns that way, eyebrows lifted. "You know, they're always throwing someone out of there." She totally knows. Because she does this all the time. Because she's cool.

"Only at school," Veronica tells Allan, a little shrug. "I like soccer better, and I surf with my dad on the weekends." Her words are spoken matter-of-fact and without artifice — she doesn't have a front. What you see is what you get. She looks over at Lynette, her brows knitting together as she senses the affectation and air the older girl is putting on to impress the boys.

She doesn't get it, but she is smart enough to get that she doesn't get it. Her father already explained it to her, after the last time Lynette acted weird in front of Ronnie, and she had lamented to him on the drive home. It's about hormones.

Veronica's secret wish is to skip puberty altogether, if it makes people do dumb things like smoke to impress boys.

She picks up another rock and hurls it off the side of the bridge.

That's one way, of the very short list of ways, to get Joseph Sumter into a strip joint.

Apologies stumble haphazard out of his mouth even as he's being shoved out the door, too mortified to put up any resistance save for hands going up to make sure he doesn't bounce off the dumster and onto the filthy ground. "You'll never see us again," is a quick and sincere promise, coherent words strung into a complete sentence and let out with a rush of a sigh, hands adjusting the sit of denim jacket over incriminating things like the shape of kevlar beneath button down, the presence of a gun.

His hand seeks out Kaylee's to tug her away from both the plainclothes guard and the establishment itself, his movements harried.

The blonde telepath is being good right now, avoiding using her ability to make the big guy let go and leave them alone. It's not the bouncer's fault they suddenly popped in among barely dressed women waiting for their turn on stage.


The young woman busies herself trying to put herself between the big man and Joseph, Kaylee had no fear of doing so either. "We heard you." She snaps right back, blue eyes glaring at the man, past strands of golden hair that had loosened from the black scrunchie. That glare clearly states, hands off. Even as she's dragged away by the hand, she manages one of those, 'I got my eye on you gestures' — two fingers pointed at her eyes, then at the big gorrilla of a man — as she shuffles backwards.

It takes a lot for her not the fling some insult in his face, instead she adds in a murmur as she turns her back on place, "Not worth our damn time anyhow." There is a soft huff and the dismissive flap of her free hand. "First… it's a week late, now drop us in a… a place like that."

A glance goes to Joseph out of the corner of her eye, "You okay?"

Black biker boots, scuff along happy to carry her and Joseph far away from that place. She looks more like a college student then anything with her worn denim blue jeans and the dark gray hoodie she's wearing that has Columbia University written on it. It serves to keep the fact she's wearing a kevlar vest and in possession of a gun hidden from those around her.

The security guard pulls the door shut behind Kaylee and Joseph, retreating back into the club's dimly lit interior. It locks automatically behind him and forms a seal that muffles the sound of music coming from inside. The pastor is right, incidentally.

He won't ever see them again. The year is 1989, only a few weeks shy of 1990: Microsoft will release Windows 3.0, East and West Germany are destined to merge their economies, an earthquake measuring 7.7 on the Richter scale will kill over sixteen hundred people in the Philippines, and — unless the pair of time travelers sent back to this blustery December 5th succeed in their mission — Jeremy Rowan will bury his only daughter, and little Veronica will spend the rest of her life wondering why the stranger on the bridge let her live.

The very same stranger following the tracks leading toward it. It's Jamie who sees her figure first, clad in denim jeans and a dark leather jacket, but he spares her little more than a haphazard glance. She won't reach them for another five minutes at least, and besides— someone meandering along the rails is no cause for concern. They've all done it. "Yeah," he tells Lynette, wrinkling his nose. "Pleasurable Confidence and the Hawk, right? Or is it Glass Dignity?"

As Joseph and Kaylee emerge from the alley that separates the Boobie Bungalow from the empty lot beside it, the bridge over the river comes into view, and although they're too far away to identify the four small figures crowded together in the shadow of one of the towering steel supports, Hiro mentioned there might be water.

"I don't know. She's trying to tell everybody it's The Cure," Lynette reports with a crooked smile. Pft. The Cure. Lynette doesn't see the figure approaching, because her focus is split between Jamie and Veronica. It's a worried glance that goes toward the smaller girl.

"Hey Ronnie… Careful, okay? Your dad would kill me if you got hurt. And then my dad would kill me." She delivers all this lightheartedly, like she's not really worried, although Veronica knows by now, she really does care.

"You can't die twice," says Veronica, so sure of this fact that she rolls her eyes, then glances over at Allan with a shake of her head. Silly Lynette. Now she's starting to understand the blonde jokes she's heard on television.

She glances down the tracks and notices the figure approaching, but she feels safe enough with Lynette there and two boys, even if they're smokers. In her second grade mind, thanks to the anti smoking propaganda she gets at school, she feels much more likely to die from secondhand smoke than some danger caused by a stranger on the train tracks. She stoops to pick at something shiny in the dirt, prying loose a flattened beer can that she then frisbees into the void.

There's a mutter from Joseph, kept quiet, something about how the security man was jus' doin' his job c'mon let's go but they're already out of the alleyway too much for it to matter, Joseph releasing Kaylee's hand once they're clear. A little disoriented, he folds his arms around himself, turning a stilted circle as he tries to his take in his surroundings all at once now that the immediate vicinity is clear of breasts and mirrors.

"Wouldn't kill 'im to leave us with a map or something, I'd reckon," he adds, before looking back at Kaylee, a smile abruptly appearing. "If back there's the worst of it, I'm sure we'll be just fine. Wanna start walkin'?" What instructions Hiro did leave with them has Joseph drifting towards the murky river cutting its damp track through the urban environment, greasy and clustered with the debris of city living and neglect both. The shadow skeleton-shape of the old bridge snags his attention, neutral assessment crinkling his brow.

"That? That was nothin'. Ninty-nine percent of that was fake anyhow." A dismissive hand is flipped the direction they came from. Joseph would do better not asking how Kaylee knows, he might not like the answers which goes along with her youth and the stupid stuff she did. You know… college and all that jazz.

"But, yeah… a map would be great." The telepath turns one way.. then the other, before following him. A hand snags his sleeve briefly, her head jerking towards the bridge, when she spots it in the distance, and hint of small figures. "Looks like he got us close at least." That's something at least, redeeming the time traveler a little. A little.

She maybe nervous about the situation, but Kaylee tries to ease it's sickening tension in her stomach, by grinning impishly at her companion, turning to shuffle backwards a few steps as she makes a teasing comment, "Not to make you feel old or anything, but I was like… two around this time." Useless fact of the day.

In the time it takes Veronica to shift her attention from the stranger to unearthing the beer can from the gravel, her silhouette travels out onto the bridge, and when the seven-year-old next looks up she can make out the stranger's strong and handsome features— which can't be right. No one is capable of moving that fast, and yet her hands are tucked into her jacket pockets and her pace leisurely, body language relaxed. She offers the youths a small smile as she approaches, followed by a low, "Hey," as soon as she's within earshot.

Eyes that could either be green or blue or even a pale brown — it's difficult for the girls to determine their true colour in the fading light — move between their faces, eventually settling on Lynette. She reaches into her jacket pocket, naked hands coming back out again with her own cigarette, which she then jams in the corner of her mouth. "You kids got a light?" Linda asks, running her fingers through her long, windswept black hair, and it's not a bad assumption for her to make. Allan and Lynette are smoking.

Jamie gives her a perplexed look. Hadn't she been five minutes off less than two ago? He even makes eye contact with Lynette, searching her face for an indication that he's not crazy, imagining things or in need of glasses.

Joseph, from his vantage point on the street outside the strip club, has a much better view of what just happened: a few seconds ago, there were only four figures on the bridge.

Now there are five.

"Ronnie, god, I know, it's a figment of speech." Someday, she'll get the phrase right. Not today, though. Lynette looks up in time to see the woman approach, and for her, it seems like out of nowhere, since she didn't catch her before. Jamie gets a baffled look in return. If he's crazy, they both are.

"The boys have the matches," Lynette says as she gets to her feet, cigarette discarded on the tracks as she makes her way over to Ronnie's side. The younger may be more worried about second hand smoke, but Lynette's had years longer for that whole talking to strangers thing to get drilled in. Her arm wraps around Veronica, and even manages to make it seem like a casual gesture, for the girl's sake.

The smallest of the five figures turns from watching her can soar through the night sky like a tiny UFO to glance at the newcomer, her brows furrowing to give the little girl a very solemn look that makes her seem older than she is at times. She glances up at Lynette when the older girl comes closer. Veronica smiles at the sudden affectionate gesture from the person she looks up to most in the world, other than her father.

"What time are the grownups s'posed to be home?" she asks Lynette, glancing at the stranger and then back at Lynette. "I don't wanna get in trouble."

Joseph's dark eyes roll in a gesture of mock-pain that might well disguise some true concern at the topic brought up — that it's done with a grin shone back at him allows him to smile back at her, toe of his boot scuffing dirt in her general direction in a minor kick that hitches his steps. "I'd tell ya how old I was around now, but I think that'll make for awkward conversation, thanky'kindly. It don't look so different now as it does in some areas of New York, don't you think?" His hands are buried in his pockets as he walks, crucifix pendants tucked safely beneath the collar of his shirt.

Expression drains, instantly, out of Joseph's face when he looks past Kaylee and notices the sudden presence of the fifth figure. A glance down the train tracks confirms— well, he's not sure what it confirms, except he either lost time, or—

"Here." It's the tone of voice he might use on Alicia to get her to heel, direct and cutting through banter and conversation. His pace kicks up a few notches, as they move for the structure. "Look over there." It's still too far away to really tell if one of the kids on the bridge matches the old photograph they'd managed to scrounge up in their week of preparation— but the clustered group gathered on the bridge, over slow moving water, is enough of a beacon of guidance. Depending on Hiro being more accurate with his timing than he is his location. "Let's go."

The change of Joseph's expression has Kaylee already turning to glance towards the bridge, her own playful smile falling away as she notices the change in the numbers. Having had her back to the bridge briefly, she hadn't been able to see the instant arrival of that extra body. The pastor's alarm is enough for her.

"Oh great." She murmurs flatly, moving to catch up to the Pastor, having to step along faster to keep up with his longer gait. A hand reaches back to make sure her handgun is still within easy reach, fingers brushing it lightly, but leaving it there for the moment. "Seems he timed our arrival just right." Kaylee would have preferred a bit more time to really get an idea of their surrounding and all. "Maybe we'll get lucky and this person will be deterred just by us showing up." Her tone says that she doesn't believe it would be that easy.

Jamie offers Linda the book of matches he used to light Allan's cigarette and Lynette's, his arm outstretched. She takes it.

His wrist. Not the matchbook. His mouth parts around a question he never gets the opportunity to voice. Bright white electricity sparks off Linda's hand, jumps into the teen's arm and travels up the length of it, filling the air with the stench of burning flesh as his skin beneath his clothes blisters and crackles, peeling apart. Thin tendrils of smoke rise up from the collar of his jacket, but she does not release her grip on him until his body has finished convulsing, then slumps forward onto the tracks.

A kick to the downed teen's ribs sends him tumbling over the side of the bridge, and when he hits the water below, the force of his body's impact creates a sound like a gunshot. Allan staggers backwards, putting himself between Linda and Lynette and Veronica, his own cigarette lost thanks to his clumsy, gaping mouth. "Holy shit," he gasps out as Linda flexes her fingers, "holy shit."

"Which one of you is Lynette Rowan?" is the next question Linda has for the group, raising that same hand, which she then points at the center of Allan's chest. She addresses her words to the girls. Lynette isn't a boy's name. If it was, she might not have been so quick to dispatch Jamie.

Kaylee and Joseph can at least be sure they're on the right track.

Lynette stares in shock as the woman just attacks Jamie like that, and it's pure instinct that has her turning Veronica away so she doesn't have to see that. And when his body falls into the water, she needs a few moments before she can function again. But little Ronnie can feel her friend shaking through that hold on her.

When her name is mentioned, it's suddenly very obvious, as she flicks her gaze up to the woman and then back away again as if trying to hide a reaction to the name. What she does do, though, is grab Allan with her free hand before she turns to book it away from this woman, Veronica tightly in tow.

Veronica's eyes grow huge and frightened when the stranger grabs Jamie, throwing him off the bridge like the little girl had just thrown rocks and that can a moment before. She gasps when she hears Lynette's name — what would this woman want with Lynette? — but she doesn't answer the question; instead her Keds scrabble on the gravel as she is pushed and pulled into a run, her heart pounding as she glances over her shoulder at the dark-haired woman. Her nails dig into Lynette's hand, so tight does she hold the other's, as they run, Ronnie stumbling on loose shoelaces but managing to keep her balance.

Joseph is running before the teen even hits the water. Not that it'll do the kid much good.

Flinches at the sound of slack body hitting stagnant water, the compulsion to go to the fallen boy greater than propelling himself for the bridge, but it's the latter he does anyway. He doesn't need to tell Kaylee to do anything, he's sure she's already on the same page — he can hear her footsteps just next to him, a little behind him when his own longer leggedness makes better use of a sprint towards where track becomes bridge. It is very likely he wouldn't mind getting there first, anyway, even if he isn't sure he has a plan when he actually gets there. But he has a pistol in his hand, now, black and silver and heavy.

"Hey!" he shouts, and it's not so thin a sound as to go unheard, anger graveling his voice and projecting enough to bounce echoes off the urban landscape. He doesn't tell the kids to run— they already are.

The moment she sees the sparks and the body kicked over the side — the bright flashes visible even from their distance — Kaylee starts to hurry faster right on the heels of Joseph. Black boots kicking dirt up behind her as she hurries to try and close that distance, but it seems agonizingly slow. At least the kids know the danger and she can take comfort in fact that maybe they can get away.

The time it takes does, however, also give her time to pull the gun from her back, fingers wrapping around the textured handle, a single digit laying along side the trigger. It's one of those times, Kaylee's happy she's had some teaching in how to handle one. First time she had picked on up had been a sad affair.

Annoyance flickers across Linda's face at the shout, her dark brows drawn low. Some surprise, too. She hadn't been told to expect anyone else. A quick glance over her shoulder confirms Joseph's presence, and Kaylee's too, before she appears to simply blink out of existence.

Maybe the telepath's theory was right. Maybe just showing up was enough to dissuade her from her mission. Maybe—


Maybe Kaylee is utterly, completely wrong. The sound of groaning metal ripples through the air, and the bridge shudders beneath Lynette and Veronica's small feet. Although there's no visible sign of Linda, she must still be in the immediate area. Rivets wouldn't be popping out of the structure and tinkling against the tracks if she wasn't.

Somewhere in the distance, a whistle sounds.

And then people with guns. This isn't supposed to happen to rich kids. They're supposed to get kidnapped and held for ransom. But if she thought about stopping to run the other way, that shuddering dismisses the thought.

"Ronnie, get to the side of the bridge and run as fast as you can!" If only she were bigger, Lynette could pick the girl up, but that's just likely to slow both of them down right now. She keeps pace with Veronica, but she directs them off the tracks themselves.

"Can… can Jamie swim?" Veronic sobs to Allan, her seven-year-old mind not grasping the fact that there's no way the boy would have survived the fall, if he wasn't dead before it. The little girl's short legs keeping her from going as fast as she'd like, though she's fast for her small size.

"There's a train coming!" she cries out through hitched sobs, and then she follows Lynette's demands, moving sideways across the tracks to get to the side of the bridge, though she really wants to stay far away from the railing too — the easier for the scary lady to fling her over the side.

Joseph didn't want to use a gun, this thought swimming through his head even as he'd secured the thing into its holster and hidden it over with denim. It's a precaution and a threat and hopefully nothing more than that. Of course, now that Linda has seemingly disappeared, the regret that he isn't able to shoot anything to make the chaos stop is strikingly palpable. He stumbles a little at the first sign of movement jarring through the bridge's structure, white showing around his dark irises and run stalling out in a hitching pause.

Fff. "Where'd she go? Is she still here?" he asks, over his shoulder, gun pointing for the ground rather than towards the children, watching them run as indecision stymies pragmatism. If the woman can go invisible, then there's gotta be someone else making the bridge rattle— Right?

Kaylee's hurried steps slow a little as the woman disappears, eyes glancing around them, fearing that she has the time traveler at her disposal at first. Careful. The one word warning echos in Joseph's head, as winded as the young woman herself after that sprint. Her theory seems almost dashed as the sounds of distressed metal reaches her ears, yet there is no sign of the woman.

"I don't know." The words rough with worry. "Just make sure the kids get off the bridge." The telepath's ability flares out, Joseph can see her, fingers splayed, lift her hand and push outward, as if pushing at the edges of her telepathic hearing range, while her footsteps carry her further out on the bridge. Much like she did when they rescued Joseph and they used a smoke screen, Kaylee uses her ability to seek out the invisible woman's mind, her gun up, finger on the trigger since she has no qualms using it, ready to shoot when and if she finds a blip that isn't those kids. It's like she's got mental radar, without the annoying sonar ping.

"Where's the train—?" Allan starts, but he doesn't get any further than that. The same invisible force that squeezed the rivets from their holes and shook the tracks tears one of the support girders down from the steel cage that encloses the rails and sends it swinging. Veronica, by virtue of her height, feels the displaced air ruffle through her hair and clothes as the beam cuts over the top of her head — a few inches taller, and it would have separated it from her shoulders.

Allan is not so lucky. There's a wet crackling sound, and like a ragdoll he spills over the side of the bridge. Lynette will feel the breath slammed from her lungs when her foot catches in the rails and gravity pulls her down into the gravel, head striking against the rails. A few moments later: a heavy, crushing weight at the base of her spine. Although her spill onto the tracks saved her from being decapitated, the tiny blonde is now trapped beneath the fallen girder and bleeding from her temple.

Kaylee's finger flexes instinctively around the trigger. Linda reappears an instant after the gunshot rings out, a one hand clasped around her shoulder with red tracks leaking between her knuckles and her face contorted into an expression fury and pain. Her free hand drops to the rails, closes around it. Electricity surges through metal, sparking intermittently, but does not manifest as light until it leaps up off the tracks a few feet in front of Kaylee and then plunges into her chest, hurling her backwards.

"He can swim fine, Ronnie," Lynette says, her tone is… not very reassuring for all the fear, but she's trying not to traumatize the girl entirely. However, watching Allan get similar treatment, tears just roll down her face for those few moments before she's hit. She goes down with a cry, and then she just lays there, dazed and quite stuck. She doesn't even shout out any orders for Veronica this time, she just whimpers through the tears.

A shriek of horror and fear comes from the seven-year-old when another of her companions is flung violently over the bridge. Few sounds are as ear splitting or heart rending as the scream of a child Veronica's age, and it is echoes a moment later when her friend is sent tumbling onto the tracks.

"Lynette!" Veronica shrieks stopping and running back to stoop and grab Lynette's hand, trying to tug her upright and away from the woman who seems intent on killing them. Tears slide down her pale face and she looks over her shoulder, eyes wide and horrified at that deathly light show. "Lynnie, hurry!" Ronnie pleads.

It's some kind of trust in faith, Hiro, as well as Kaylee that doesn't have Joseph immediately running towards the woman flung back from the blow of electricity. Or maybe it's the sight of seeing the young girl get slammed down on the tracks and caught there by the twisting vine of metal that too easily supersedes other instincts, Veronica's piercing wails hooking his attention on some primal, protecive level. Out of the crooked scope of her tear-blurred sight, Lynette will see Joseph's boot clad feet land in the gravel just near her. His gun is holstered, hands free, spread unthreatening.

One of which curls around Veronica's slender wrist. "Honey, you need t'get off the bridge, you need to run. I'm gonna help her, okay?" he says in his best dad voice, which he's never gotten to really put to practice. Divorced, and all. He's not sure it's gonna work, but he's already feeling around where the twisted girder pins Lynette down, looking for give that won't tear up her skin. His hands work beneath it, and shoulders curl inwards under the strain of attempting to lift.

There is a short cry from Kaylee as the electricity slams into her chest, making her body jerk backwards, and it sends her tumbling to the ground. Luckily for her, the telepath's body slams down heavily on the wooden slats and sharp gravel, instead of the metal lines on each side of her. The thick vest help protect her spine from a harsher impact, even if it can do nothing against the electrical attack. Her hand isn't so lucky, as there is a clang of it hitting metal, her grip on her gun jarred loose upon impact and it clatters away from her.

The whole thing, leaves Kaylee dazed and grasping for the breath that was knocked out of her. Shit. Fingers reach across her and seek to grip the track rail next to her and use it to try and start to pull herself to where she can push herself up. The movement is uncomfortable enough to make her groan. Yet, already she's trying to find the woman's mind again, to sink in and ready her next attack, though it still hard to concentrate at the moment, the telepath plans to take the mental route this time.

Kaylee doesn't even bother to look where the kids and Joseph are, she trusts him to get the kids safe, so she can fully focus on the attacker.

Up ahead, a pair of headlights swerve around a bend in the tracks where, just before the bridge, the rails wind around a water tower across the street from the Boobie Bungalow, its empty parking lot and neon sign now flashing hot pink. The freight train comes into view and — with Linda oozing blood from her shoulder and eyes half-lidded — Joseph and Kaylee can be fairly certain that the vibrating gravel and rattling tracks are trembling because of its approach rather than anything the other time traveler is doing.

Lip curled around a toothy snarl, Linda looks between the oncoming engine, Kaylee climbing to her feet and Joseph struggling to free Lynette from under the girder while Veronica looks on, keening.

It isn't a difficult decision to make. This time, when she disappears she leaves a swirling whirlwind of dust in her wake. She might not be able to stick around and finish Lynette off, but she doesn't need to. Unless Joseph can liberate her, the train will do the job for her. Gravel that might as well be glass cuts into his fingers and knuckles when he wedges them under the girder, but all the strength in his upper body and thighs is not enough to lift the hulk of metal enough to create enough space for Lynette to crawl free.

He needs help.

Lynette can't quite look at Veronica just now, even as the girl tugs at her. Joseph might be able to tell, but she's trying really hard to stop crying, with very little success. But as the man tries to help her, she uses that hand to pat Veronica's. "Need you, Ronnie," she says, her voice halting and betraying the face that she's in the worse pain she's ever felt before in her young life. "Get… your dad. Please." In reality, she just wants the girl away and safe and not standing right here watching all this.

"Help her, please help her!" Veronica tells Joseph, as if he hasn't travelled from 2010 to do just that. She glances at the sound of that train with wide eyes, and shakes her head, not wanting to leave Lynette behind. Lynette's words break through to the distraught child more than the grownup's. Get her dad. If anyone can help, it's Dr. Keith Sawyer — at least in Veronica's young mind, it's true: her father is her hero, and he can do anything.

"Okay… okay… there's payphones down the road and he has a pager," she says, nodding, and she glances up with huge teary eyes at Joseph once more before she finally does what he says, breaking into a run on skinny legs.

Joseph keeps trying for a stubborn several seconds, not desiring to tell Kaylee to do anything but get off the darn track, taking some reassurance from the sounds of Veronica's light feet making fast work of running away. Tension burns hot up his arms, down his back, before Joseph gives and projects a thought, loud and clear, towards where he sees the telepath still standing out the corner of his eye: need help. "You're doing good," is what his mouth is saying to Lynette, smiling like there's no traing coming at all. "Real brave. I'm gonna get you out of here and you'll be fine."

As she pushes to her feet she can hear the train and feel the rattle of it's wheel on the track, she lifts her hand from it and glances down, attention diverting from Linda. Then she gaze follows down the track , blue eyes widening slightly. Time is running out.

She almost doesn't notice the sudden disappearance of someone within her mental hearing, eyes flashing over to where Linda use to be."Fff… " Kaylee doesn't let that word finish, gravel slipping under her boots as she scrambles to her feet, it shifts under her making it hard to maintain her footing. However, it suddenly catches at the edge of the cross beams and she stumbles over the rail, fingers snatching up her gun, and tucks it away at her back.

Only catching a glimpse of the tiniest girl fleeing, Kaylee is at Joseph's side as fast as she can move, her hand sliding across his back as she steps around him in a hurry. Dropping into a crouch, she works her own fingers under the twisted metal, ignoring how the gravel rakes over her skin, the sharp sting lost to the urgency of the moment. Taking a deep breath, the telepath starts lifting with her legs, a grimace as the weight pulls at her muscles in the form of a creeping burning sensation up her arms, the effort making it hard for her to say anything.

Crawl out… It's hard to tell if those words are spoken to Lynette or in her head, only Joseph has any view of her lips, which are pressed tight, thin line. «Now!» A slight mental push going along with the single word, just incase the terror of the situation makes the smaller blonde freeze up.

Between the combined strength of Kaylee and Joseph, the fallen girder yields. Fractionally.

But a fraction is all that Lynette needs. The pressure bearing down on her back lifts, and she finds that she can move her legs again, her body pulling itself free under the telepath's gentle command at the same time Veronica is clearing the tracks. The train blows past her back, sends her hair billowing across her tear-streaked face, loose brunette curls sticking to her skin where it's wettest.

When the train comes barreling out onto the bridge, the driver blares another warning, and the shrill squeal of breaks screeching along the tracks cuts through the sound of the bridge's damaged supports beginning to buckle under its weight. Cables snap, tracks tangle in wheels, and sparks fly out from under the train's belly, creating a bright orange wake behind it.

It isn't going to stop in time, the bridge isn't going to hold, and Joseph and Kaylee have only seconds to act.

With Veronica gone, Lynette weeps harder, uncontrolled, a dirty hand covering her face. But when that pressure is relieved and Kaylee's voice comes through, she pulls herself out and ends up on her hands and knees there by the two time travelers. Shaking and trying to remember how to breathe, she is just trying to get up to her feet when that warning blares through, and she freezes and stares wide-eyed at the approaching train. "I… I…"

A few seconds isn't a lot of time.

It's taken up by Joseph putting his arms around Lynette and drawing her to her feet, and off her feet. The screech of metal and the rattling of the train barreling down the tracks means he'd have to shout to be heard, but he doesn't bother — hopes that Kaylee can take instruction by example, as pastor takes young girl and goes for the edge of the failing bridge. Remembers doing something similar in Tennessee, when he was at the same age as the young boys who were kicked off this one just prior, breakneck adventure of jumping into crystal clean lakes against the mountain backdrop.

This one is a little different. A little dirtier. A lot less scary. There's not a lot of difference, either, between jumping and falling — Joseph and Lynette disappear over the edge and drop like rocks for the river below.

It doesn't take a mind reader to realize what Joseph is doing, not that Kaylee is thrilled at the prospect. A glance at the oncoming train is all that's needed to get her to follow after the pastor, dashing to the edge of the bridge and taking that leap of faith off the side, angling enough to hopefully miss the other two.

There is a second or two for her to think about if this is truly wise, before she hits the cold water. It's like a shock to the system as it engulfs her and she goes under, getting only a moment to hold her breath before it closes over her head.

Joseph and Lynette hit the water first and are sucked under its surface by the current. Kaylee is last, and as she succumbs to the river, the night sky above her turns in place like a kaleidoscope: her final view of the bridge is its collapse and the engine diving nose-first after her as if in slow motion, its whistle rising to an impossible pitch.

It happens much faster for Veronica. The engine slams into the river, cylindrical cars tumbling into the void after it, and it isn't so shallow that Joseph, Kaylee and Lynette touch the bottom, but it also isn't deep enough for the churning water to engulf the wreck. There's a flash of bright yellow outlined in red, the shape of a carapace. She's too young to recognize the logo belonging to the Shell Oil Company or to comprehend what that means.

She will, however, feel the heat of the explosion that obliterates the remains of the bridge and can be seen from several miles away. Pieces of flaming debris come raining down from the sky like smouldering meteors — one crumples one of the few cars parked in the Boobie Bungalow's parking lot, another smashes into its sign, blowing out the lights, and sends it crashing down… into the payphone outside the club. Thousands of tiny shards of glass go skittering across the pavement, and a severed receiver, cord still attached, spins out into the street.

When she's picked up and finds that this man is not going to run her to safety, but rather, he's dropping them off the very bridge she just watched two of her friends fall off of, well… Lynette clings to him as she lets out her own ear-piercing scream that only silences when they hit the water. Even under the water, she doesn't break away to swim to the surface, she just holds onto him out of some desperately held belief that he's going to save her.

The creak and groan of metal, the squeal of that whistle has Veronica turning to look in wide-eyed horror as the train crashes into the river. Lynette, her mind cries out, too dumbfounded to take cover until after those chunks of debris crash into the car and pay phone she was about to run to, about to punch her father's pager in, and then wait for his return call so that he could come save Lynette.

The tiny girl drops to her knees behind a car parked on the curb and covers her head, huddling there and rocking herself, staring at the bridge's remains and the fire that burns, tears streaming down her face. At seven, she's just old enough to understand what human beings can and can't live through, and what it means to be dead.

If Lynette was on that bridge, even Ronnie's father couldn't save her, her young mind tells her.

Boots are heavy. Kevlar is heavy. Girl with clinging monkey arms is heavy. Joseph feels very, very heavy as he struggles for what feels like up, only distantly aware of the roar of explosion and the way fire paints reflections on the surface of the river. Despite the determination of Lynette's grip on his jacket, Joseph can't quite bring himself to release the fist gripping her own jacket, other hand spread wide as if he could find something to grab to haul him up to the surface. Suspended in chilly, murky water, it feels like forever before his head breaks through the barrier of water and air, bringing Lynette with him.

Hiro had mentioned water.

He draws in a breath, feverishly looks around for Kaylee even as wet, dark hair plasters to his forehead, streams water into his eyes. The world seems reduced to river horizon, flames, and blurs.

Not all that far from Joseph and Lynette, Kaylee surfaces suddenly, with a flail of arms and a heavy cough to expel water out of her lungs. Blonde hair lays flat against her skull, but where it falls into the water it floats around her in a pale halo. Blue eyes are wide as she stares at the fireball, her heart still beating heavily in her chest, that had been way too close.

It takes more effort to stay up with the weight of clothes and vest, her arms sweep in wide arcs, feet feverishly kicking to help her keep afloat. Then panic sets in, as the shock of that engine barely missing her fades. "Joseph?!" She shouts as she twirls around in the inky waters looking for him and his burden. He can see her relief in the glow of the fire created by the downed engine, when she finally lays eyes on them. "Oh thank god." With effort, Kaylee starts to swim towards to other two so that she can help keep them afloat.

The explosion has converted the river to an artery of fire, flames licking off its surface. Patches of muddy water not yet saturated with oil like the one Joseph, Lynette and Kaylee come up in the middle of provide a buffer between the raging inferno and the shore. Half-dressed women, the security guard that had wrestled Joseph into the alley and the club's manager come streaming out of the Boobie Bungalow, their faces gone pale and gaunt.

Veronica will hear the sharp snap of stilettos before a pair of black pumps come into view beneath the car she's huddled behind. A moment later, a woman clothed in nothing except for a bathrobe comes around the front of the vehicle and drops down into a crouch beside her. Arms encircle the little girl's waist, and she's lifted off the cement, a manicured hand smearing the hair away from the corners of her mouth and peeling at thicker strands.

"Oh my God," someone is saying. "Has anyone called the police?"

Taking in a loud gulp of breath when they break the surface, Lynette doesn't start crying again this time, but only because she's staring at the fire and the remains of the bridge and that train crashed into the waters. "I don't…"

Whatever it is she's trying to say, it doesn't quite make it out through the shock and the pain and the fear. Not to mention she's soaking wet and muddy now, shivering there in the suddenly noticeable chill in the December air. Sorry, Joseph, she's not letting go just yet, either.

"Th-there were people on the bridge — k-kids — my f-friends," Veronica stammers to the woman who lifts her, the little girl's arms going around the woman's neck and clinging there, burying her wet face against the stripper's neck.

"Some lady was trying to hurt them, and we were running, and I think she broke the bridge, somehow, there was light, and she threw them over the side, and my friend Lynette is still on there stuck under the track but people were helping and he told me to run and I was going to use the phone but it's broken…" Thankfully her breath runs out and when she tries to take another, it comes in the form of a sob — anything that follows is unintelligible, sobs and hiccups, and it will be easy enough to write off anything the heartbroken little girl says to the stripper as shock.

Exhausted and they haven't even reached the shore yet, Joseph treads water until Kaylee is near enough to help. He'd say are you okay?, but sentimentality is overtaken by the need to breathe, and such. There are uttered reassurances for the tearful girl clinging silently to him, a glance back at the burning wreckage, before he works with Kaylee to get to the edge of the river. When his boots find slippery mud that sucks at his soles, tries to sink him in ankle-deep, it's a relief.

He doesn't let Lynette drop until the water is as shallow as his knees, setting her down and keeping a cold clasp on her hand. Weary black-eyed stare swims on over towards the gathered crowd. What a sight these three must be.

Her chin lifts up and down as each kick of Kaylee's legs makes her rise out of the water a little, before she sinks again, til it touches her jaw. It's tiring work though and she'll be feeling this for a few days after, without a doubt.

Her body feels even heavier as they shuffle their way out of the water, gravity taking over again to remind them they over worked themselves. A hand seeks to wrap fingers around Joseph's arm, lightly gripping the water logged fabric.

I couldn't have done this without you. The words spoken mentally to Joseph, out of pure exhaustion, are filled with the warmth of her feelings for him. Maybe this is what Hiro intended all along, when he left that crane on her pillow, for him to help her. She doesn't know, but for the moment she's just thankful the pastor is there.

Kaylee will have to express that gratitude later when she doesn't feel worn out, body shaking from cold and exhaustion, a pounding headache and an aching chest.

As the stripper murmurs quiet reassurances into Veronica's hair and rubs the heel of her hand between the little girl's shoulder blades in an attempt to soothe her, she pays no mind to the shape of another woman moving through the crowd and does not notice the blood seeping from the gunshot wound in her shoulder or that she's the only one moving away from the chaos instead of toward it in an attempt to search the riverbank for survivors.

The security guard wades out into the shallows and claps a meaty hand around Joseph's bicep, helping him free himself off the mire while the manager strips off his jacket and bundles it around Lynette's shoulders before moving to assist Kaylee.

Later, when they're interviewed by the Los Angeles police, not one of the witnesses will be able to relay Linda's description or communicate the venomous look that Lynette's attacker shoots in Kaylee and Joseph's direction before vanishing into the thick black smoke that wafts continuously off the blazing water.

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