Good Flow


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Scene Title Good Flow
Synopsis On the run from the bad results of criminal enterprise, Kaylee turns to Shaw for a moment of sanctuary.
Date August 31, 2016

East Harlem, New York City

While Kaylee’s contacts may have changed over the years of her tenure in the bright future, one number has still remained the same. Morris Morrison’s contact info still reaches the man whom people often mistake for his TV personality and contract builder, Shahid “Shaw” Khan. Fewer people yet know that Morris is also called Shaw, and that he is a survivor of a terribly apocalyptic alternate timeline. Of those few people, Leanne Edwards, aka Kaylee, has the ability to contact Shaw and have him personally offer to drive her anywhere she’d like to go. As long as there’s gas in the tank and time to spare.

“Did you eat?”

The phrase is a common salutation now with him amongst friends, linked to the concept of food, friends and family all sharing a bond. Perhaps also unsurprising is that he’s behind the wheel of a vehicle, handling it like a pro. Because that’s one of his jobs, being a driver, a deliverer of things and people. Shaw casts a short glance over to his passenger, and he reaches over to turn down the radio a touch, the strains of something of a ballad of love played in Spanish guitar fading into the background.

Huddled down in the passenger seat, looking like a little ball of misery, Leanne…. Kaylee just shakes her head in silence. Fingers tug down on the brim of her ball cap, pulling it lower on her face in an attempt to block out the world outside the windows of the car.

“Not feeling particularly hungry, though.”

It had all been going great, it had almost worked. For a moment, it had looked like they were going to succeed and this crappy, boring little world would have been tolerable. Now, the NYPD was out for her and the crew, who knows who else. Of course, there might have been a prison break involved in there too… Recently, they had been forced to split up and Shaw was the first person she thought of. There was no way she could bring this sort of thing to Liz’s door, Kaylee wouldn’t endanger her niece like that. Nor would she interrupt Mateo’s or Magnes’ beautiful families with her problems. That left only Shaw… and by proxy Izzy, who might not take this too well, either.

Beyond the people of the Hub, Kaylee didn’t have anyone else. Hadn’t allowed herself to make friends, which made the one’s she had that much more important. “Thanks for doing this,” she adds softly, a small smile angled his way.

“Okay, we could get coffee,” Shaw offers in place of food, even as they drive by several spots where coffee could be gotten. The man seems to have an implicit understanding that she’s tucked herself away to hide from searching eyes even though he hasn’t asked any questions as to why. He’s not needed to ask, trusting that details will reveal themselves when they do. And besides, they’ve both done their fair share of hiding in corners and shadows from would-be killers.

His car, a nondescript decommissioned squad car-bodied vehicle, rolls through traffic joining the many taxi cabs and other delivery trucks. There are moments where Shaw’s focus is on the road, deftly squeezing around most of the jams where he can and taking side streets as if he has a mental map of the city. Though there are some points where they are forced to stop, he’s calm at those moments. Maybe because there’s no deadline to reach Point B.

The route he takes is winding, but it doesn’t double back. Eventually when she looks out the windows, the buildings have changed in overall architecture a few times until they’ve come to the more colorful mural facades of Harlem. He hasn’t said much along the way, letting the radio do the majority of the talking, the subject of the news still on the government’s seizure of Pinehearst’s holdings, the revelations of Arthur Petrelli’s black ops, and other disturbing topics all thrown across audio in rushed, attention grabbing headlines and insufficient summaries.

Any indication of Shaw’s worries on the topics are only in the fleeting thoughts and shortlived spikes of remembering how Isa, Magnes, Liz and others are tangled into it. How Ruiz and Lynette are doing, given their complicated situation. And then there’s Kaylee, who’s also on the run for other reasons. Reasons he hasn’t asked about. They finally pull into a parking garage where he turns the car off and glances over again, cutting off the news radio. Shaw smiles amicably, brows arching up as he glances around and notes, “Keep the cap on. You’re still going to get some looks.” Because it’s Harlem. “But, it looks good on you, too. Come on.” He gathers the keys, stepping out of the car.

Despite the shitty situation, Kaylee can’t help but smile a little at the mention of coffee. A simple man with simple needs. It was refreshing from having to deal with Kain and Ling, especially right now. Maybe that is why she enjoyed hanging out with him on occasion. Something different. Something of home as shitty as it had been in the end.

So her ride had been listening to the radio and listening to the random droning of Shaw’s mind. It was kind of a thing for her. A comfort, like how some people have to sleep with a sound machine. The quiet was so much worse.

When they enter the parking garage, Kaylee sits up straighter, shaded blue eyes watching the parked cars pass by. “Okay,” she murmurs in response to keeping the cap on. “You think so,” she can’t help but ask as she slides out of the car. The sound of her door shutting echoes down the concrete corridors around them. “I was thinking it made me look a little too redneck.”

The hat was doing a good job at keeping her hair pressed down around her head, which in turn helps cover that unsightly scar down the left side of her face.

Shaw has, apparently, very little opinion on the subject of redneck appearances. The man only gives a puzzled blink at her for the comment, supporting his comment and assuaging her worry with, “It’s okay. You’re in New York.” Where rednecks are far from the worst thing to encounter on the streets. He takes up a spot beside her, though he’s still directing their path as they go. Upon exiting the garage, Shaw subtly shifts their path out towards the street side. People bustling about on their day don’t give them a second glance. To the rest of the world, the two of them are just another pair of people to be walked around.

There’s less hesitation in Shaw’s footsteps. He walks unworriedly, though still on occasion glancing to something or someone as it grabs his attention and he takes a moment to assess on an objective level whether or not he recognizes, and whether it’s a threat. The old habit lingering from their time hasn’t faded in him, only the reactions are less flamboyant, less with the feeling that a decision must be made with immediacy of choosing between life or death. Maybe he’s gone a little soft, but his is a mind at peace in this world.

“Here,” he points out with a look to a window sign to the intimate, close-quartered coffee shop that offers only the simplest of options and very few selections by way of accompaniments. The strains of a Spanish vocalist play from a tinny sounding radio behind the counter, and a couple of customers lounge along the wall chattering at each other in a fast-paced, Caribbean accented Spanish as well. This is no place for soy lattes and foamy covers on cups. Shaw steps up readily to the counter to order a regular coffee for himself, and turns to nod at Kaylee. “Get whatever you want, my treat.” He steps to one side, starting to pull a wallet out from a pocket.

Tilting her head just enough to see where they are, Kaylee looks slightly amused. Even though she hadn’t really told him anything about why she needed a place to lay low. “You know,” she says softly when he turns to her. “You don’t have to do this.” Her attention turns to the man behind the counter and she gives him a bit of a smile, too. “I’ll just have what he is.” Put enough milk and sugar into coffee, it’ll be drinkable.

Turning away from the counter, Kaylee glances into the room. “Thank you,” she says to her friend. “Want me to find us a seat?” Already she’s found one with a good advantage and exits nearby.

Two regular coffees wind up in the pair’s hands in speedy fashion, since theirs is not the fancy sort that needs more than a pour out of a waiting pot. But, at least it’s fresh and drinkable right out of the cup if they want. Shaw’s got it down to a science, counting the pour of milk and sugar like a bartender would before the mix. He bobs his head to agreeing wherever Kaylee wants to sit, and he also seems to note the strategy within the choice. “I like this spot that you picked,” he comments with a few sips, “Good flow.” Which means they could slip out any time should they need.

Picking the direction of the door to watch, Shaw sits and sips at his coffee in a calm, unhurried pace that seems the antithesis to much of the people of the rest of the city. He’s people-watching, or perhaps people-studying, as the telepath likely picks up on the way he evaluates what he’s looking at with an objective mental air. There’s no judgment, merely assessment: of physical details, of manners, of activities. Then he glances back to Kaylee abruptly, awareness flipping back to her. “How is it?” He nods, referring to the coffee. There’s a question behind it, unasked but present in the dark of his eyes, the question of how she is.

“Old habits, I guess.” Kaylee comments with a small smile. She used to spend a lot of time tucked into spots like that watching people in the Hub. Especially, when she would piss people off like Izzy. It had been a small place with not too many places to hide.

Fingers curl around the warmth of the cup once she is sitting. The sugar and creamer making it very pale. “You sure it’s okay if I crash at your place for a bit. A-at least until I know where I need to go next.” Each person is watched with a mix of nervousness and suspicion as they drift in and out of the coffee shop. Do they recognize her? Will they call the cops?

Kaylee can’t keep up the vague information, so she sighs. “Kain — well, Kain, Ling, and I… we tried to take advantage of Kain’s knowledge of his old life here. He got arrested. Ling and I got him out.” Shoulder slump a little as she hunches down a little. She looks completely embarrassed. “They almost picked me at the club I was working at, which is why I called you.”

“Old but good,” Shaw concurs on her habit as they enjoy their moment of peace with their coffees and the ambience of the small coffee shop. The people are typical of this area of New York, while they don’t have the rushing air around them, they’re also too busy with their own lives to be concerned with the pair. Her question brings his focus back to her from the people watching, and Shaw bobs his head in affirmative. “Isabelle comes and goes, she has school,” he admits to the presence of his companion. The slight flush of color in his cheeks tells of that relationship still going on. One that he doesn’t mind, but it’s telling that he’s aware of Kaylee’s position in it all. And that it could be a little awkward in the tiny apartment.

Still, Shaw brightens at the prospect of a friend’s coming. “But yes you can come stay with us,” he says with a definitive nod. Plus it’s his place, so he gets the majority say, at least in his opinion. Once she admits with that tidbit of the specific trio pissing off Kain, though, Shaw’s eyes go wide. Not so much fearful, but surprise at the boldness of the idea presented. “You mean, you tried to steal from Kain?” That’s the obvious assumption, given what they both know of Kain, and that even in the Hub it was never a good idea to try and cheat K-Mart. “Whoa,” he utters softly, still bringing up his coffee to sip.

His volume drops to more conspiratorial tones. “Did you get anything from it?” Besides a hit put out on her.

There is a touch of anxiety as Shaw says that outloud, a nervous glance is cast about them. Kaylee’s shoulders curl forward some and her eyes darts darting about. “Shhh..” motioning at her friend to keep his volume down. “Yeah, we did,” she says softly, leaning forward a little. “Kain had this great plan, but it kinda just… fell apart.” The telepath gives a soft sigh. “We were so close… but fell flat on our faces short of the finish line.”

The last question just gets a slow back and forth shake of Kaylee’s head. “Now we are worse off then we were before.” She sighs heavily through her nose and takes a sip of the coffee. “Sorry to bring this stuff to your door. I just— I don’t have many friends I can trust and most have families and kids. I don’t want to bring this down on them.”
Propping her chin on the palm of her hand, Kaylee can’t help but watch the man across from her with a small smile. “I’m glad that you and Izzy are still going strong though.”

Shaw ducks his head in apology, volume immediately dropped to more private levels. A quick glance around reveals that nobody’s heard or makes like they haven’t. “Maybe it fell apart because Kain knows what Kain does,” he muses softly, a philosophy of the self and existence yet to be turned over. But that’s for later wonderings.

He shakes his head as she apologizes again, bringing up a smile as she notes him as a friend. There’s a sense of self-aware pride to it, an understanding the having friends is good, and he has done a good job of having them. But he tempers the expression with a lift of his brows at Kaylee, responding with a tilt of his head. “But you’re nice. You could make a lot of friends.” He considers a moment, then realizes, “But, you’re right too… Trust is… difficult.” He motions with a finger pointing to her, “I trust you.” Then the finger taps his chin as he thinks further, “And I trust Isabelle. And Ruiz and Lynette."

“Kain and Ling, too. Sometimes.”

Sometimes? Sometimes. He’ll have to think about that one.

His smile brightens like one of the Isa’s fires for the comment about him and her, their bond still going strong. Shaw bobs his head and grins unabashedly for a moment. Then a new thought strikes him and the grin fades slightly to a curious musing, “The couch is a little small, though. So’s the bed…” Suddenly, he’s thinking on sleeping arrangements in the tiny apartment that he lives in. His thoughts wander down that route before doubling back to the present. “What else do you need? Clothes? A toothbrush?”

There is no doubt the fondness the telepath has for Shaw, but Kaylee still can’t help but drop her gaze when he talks about the trust he has in her. Should he have it? She is a wanted criminal. Fingers snag her earthy hair and considers the color. “I think it’s time to go back to blonde, maybe they will think I am that detective chick.” Her eyes refocus on the man sitting across from her, letting the hair fall again. “Kinda liked it this way, but I kinda missed being my own hair color.”

Sipping her coffee, Kaylee looks a little uncomfortable about the arrangements, “I won’t impose on you both for very long, don’t worry.” Feeling the need to assure him that he won’t have to consider where to put her for long, getting the feeling it might get a little awkward. “Beyond a place to lay my head and a source of hair dye, that’s all I need.”

Reaching out, Kaylee touches his arm, gripping it briefly. “Feels like forever since we saw each other.” The hand retreats just as quickly, as she talks. “I’m just sorry it has to be under these circumstances. Here we are in a world nicer than our own and I go and screw up for myself.”

Whether or not he should have that trust, there’s not a doubt that he does, nor a reason thus far that he shouldn’t have it otherwise. But then, Shaw has largely been surrounded by those who have been helpful, at least to him. “You’ll look good either way,” he comments with an easy smile for her. When she mentions her double, the detective, he blinks in remembering that little factoid from awhile ago. “Oh… but then you can say to whoever asks, ‘I can’t talk about that. The case is still under investigation.’ Something like that. I’ve seen them say that on TV,” he offers in unsolicited advice. It comes with a grin, and recognition that yes he is basically telling her to give falsehoods and lie. The morality of dishonesty falls along a squidgey wave of necessity. Like pretending to be someone else, but to survive.

When Kaylee looks uncomfortable about the sleeping arrangements, he ducks his head, a short shake before he bids, “You can stay as long as short as you like. It has been too long.” He looks to where her hand touches upon his and he turns back with a renewed smile, an understanding one. “We make our own ways here, or there. As long as we have our friends with us… it’s good.”

After another quick sip of his coffee, Shaw angles another studying look at Kaylee, and he offers a confession of his own. Not quite what she thinks it might be though, as he shares, “I took some tests, and now I got papers that say I’m a graduate. Well. Morris Morrison is.” Some good news, to distract from the bad. “Though, I’m not very sure what to do with the paper, now… or what I should do? I like driving.” He tilts his head a ltitle at her, brows lifting. “Maybe you can come with me on my deliveries. If you’d like?”

There is a smile and a nod affirming his advice. “Exactly, as long as they don’t look to closely,” fingers trail down the ugly scar that mars the left side of her face, “I should be able to make them believe I’m her.” A flicker of the mischievous passes over her face, before it falls into something much more serious.

“You are right, of course,” Kaylee comments with a lopsided smile, gaze falling to her cooling coffee. “Friends keep us sane, give us excellent advice,” she motions to him, “and make sure we realize we are not alone.” Even if she only half believes her own words. All these people she cares about and they care about her… yet, she always felt alone.

“Wait…” Kaylee straightens suddenly and leans across the table, with a bright and excited look. “You got your G.E.D finally?!? That’s great!” There is pride for her friend and his achievement. Something like that seemed like something big for him. “Of course, I’ll go on a few deliveries with you. I’d love to see what you do.” It had been too long since they had been around each other. Kaylee knew she was to blame for that, so caught up in what she had been doing with Kain and Ling. “Could be fun.”

TV has taught him so many things, as Shaw appears to have learned much from it when he leads Kaylee out of the coffee shop back out to his car. “When Isabelle came back and thought she was in trouble because of what she did with getting her… her double in trouble,” he explains as he’s driving along to the first package pickup, “I thought, maybe it’s important to move around a lot. But, I like it here.” The ‘here’ being New York City, specifically the part where he’s living in it, but he also implies the overall city. He had been shy in the crowds, technically still is, but Shaw appears to have settled within the different parameters of the reality they’d come to know.

Their first stop is a courier service, where he signs off on several boxes worth of items to be carted to their end destination by a certain time. It’s after he’s received the packages that Shaw subtly but noticeably shifts the way he drives to something more aggressive. She’ll notice the way he runs through his route the way he’s done before, a short back of the mind set of directions he checks back to while he’s driving. And not once does he seem overly curious about the contents of the packages - those thoughts are pushed back to the forbidden category. Shaw’s life is awfully mundane for anybody’s standards, especially for those who don’t know about the man’s past interdimensional jump.

The most excitement they get is when Shaw’s face gets recognized for the carpet and home construction guy on the television, something that hasn’t changed in years. The same commercial runs on the TV, but now Shaw’s response also is an easy smile and an explanation that it’s not him. “It happens still,” Shaw remarks with a helpless shrug as they come away from the last delivery with a tip this time. “But I don’t mind. I think I can do it the way he does it,” he says of the doppelganger’s trademark slogan. “Maybe one day I’ll be able to build houses like he did, for Lynette,” muses the man in afterthought as they slip back to the car again. A faint smile of amusement crosses his expression, which he turns and widens with regard to Kaylee. “Are you hungry?” he asks her, noting with a short nod to the time on the car’s dash. It’s already been several hours.

It had been an amusing afternoon to say the least, seeing how well Shaw had integrated himself into this world, Kaylee can’t help but feel a little jealous. Even after being in that world so many years, she felt restless somehow. Listening to him talk about his alternate self, she can’t help but smile. “I can’t say the same about my own. Though I guess there is some irony, in me being a criminal and her a detective.” One put Kain in jail… one broke the man out. The telepath nudged his arm with her hand, “But you, my dear friend! I know you could do what he does. Plus, people like you as soon as they meet you. Just have that kind of face.”

The clock gets a glance when he mentions food. “How about we get some carry out pizza.” I guess that means Kaylee is hungry. “Then we can share with Izzy.” She sobers a bit. “You sure she is going to be okay with it?” The firestarter makes the telepath nervous. Even though, technically, Kaylee could stop her from burning her alive with a well placed word, Kaylee didn’t like doing it to people that she is close to like that. “Maybe get her something to drink too.” Placate her some.

Slouching down in her seat some, Kaylee’s eyes unfocus some. “Hope Kain and Ling are doing okay.” You can’t spend that many years close to people and not be worried. Fishing a burner phone out of her pocket, she checks it with a light frown.

A smile spreads over Shaw’s face at being complimented. He ducks his head shyly still, perhaps because it comes from Kaylee rather than a stranger, perhaps because that is his nature. “Thank you,” he accepts softly, “though I’ve seen your double sometimes when I’ve gone out for delivery that way. She drinks a lot of mochas.” He grins wider at that note, as if having observed the differences between the two Kaylees, he finds the similarities in certain habits amusing to match up as well.

The mention of pizza gets him to perk up and nod vigorously, grin continuing when she adds that they can share with Isabelle. That slightly sobered look on Kaylee’s face gets him to temper his own, but Shaw reaches over to pat Kaylee’s hand reassuringly. “Of course she will be okay with it, hamim. Eanqa’ has been working very hard too and she will be glad for the company,” he predicts. He turns to start the car again, and pulls the vehicle back out to the streets, remarking in a softer consideration, “She misses Brenda.” In that tone, he does as well; the sassy bartender of the Lucky Lady back in their version of the timeline was never mean unless she had to be. “Kain and Ling? They’ll be okay,” he adds to his predictions, “They’re tough, and brave, and smart. They’re survivors.” Like them as well. Like all the travelers who originated from the Virus-ridden world to find a Bright world, even if some hadn’t quite settled the same way he had.

Once the wide, square box of classic New York pizza sits in Kaylee’s hands, smelling up the car with its delectably cheesy, tomato-y scent, they head back to the tiny studio apartment in East Harlem to enjoy the rest of the evening. “You stay with us,” Shaw repeats as he opens the door to reveal the small, but cozy living space. Because, he assumes, the world around them is bearable as long as there’s others to share it with.

Paradise was always meant to be such a way, wasn’t it?

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