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Scene Title Holly-Daze
Synopsis A slice of life holiday spent with mother and son, with a charming end.
Date December 21, 2019

Kaylee’s Apartment, RayTech Campus Housing, Jackson Heights


“Carl, no.”

Carl snatches his hand back with a bit of bacon still clutched in his finger. He had been trying to sneak it to Willy, as an offering in hopes of finally making friends. The old grizzled cat was perched at the other end of the table, staring at the boy through slitted eyes as he eats.

Quickly popping the bit in his mouth, the youngest Sumter tries to look innocent when his mother turns towards the table and reminds him that. “Bacon is too rich for him.” It was the grease mainly that upset the poor cat’s stomach. Never stopped him from eating it though.

“Okay,” Carl murmurs guiltily looking at two red dragons sitting in front of him on the table. He always ate with Bubba, but the new articulated dragon gifted him by Luther sat with it. He opens the dragon's jaw and makes a growling sound at it before taking another bite of his eggs. Heels bounce off the chair legs while he chews, letting his imagination wander.

Kaylee watches him quietly for a moment, amused at the imagination that was held within that young mind.

That isn’t the only mind and with the music off, she can hear it approaching the door. Wiping her hands, the telepath flips the towel over her shoulder and waits for the knock. “You give it a name yet?”

“He’s a boy, mom.” Carl corrects with an annoyed look at Kaylee.

“Oh! My bad,” Kaylee offers moving towards the door in preparation of opening it, taking a moment to address the newer of two dragons. “My apologizes, good dragon.” An act that seems to please her son, who reaches over and moves the dragon and says with a deepened voice.

“That’s okay, ma’am.”

Because of the awkwardness upon their last meeting, Luther had given the actual wrapped present box to Kaylee. A peace offering and a souvenir from a land beyond the Pacific, the red articulated dragon of the eastern variety came with a little bit of assembly required. A good exercise between mother and son in putting the beast together, no doubt. Now the man who provided it has finally come back around as requested. How could he say no? It was the holidays, after all.

Luther announces himself with the anticipated quick but soft knocking at the door, although naturally Kaylee already sensed his coming shortly before. Willy too. The man and the old tomcat have come to something of an understanding, not unlike two male lions forming a bond in roaming the savannah. Since there’s no bacon to be had, the cat joins the telepath in door greetings.

The man at the door, once opened, looks a bit more cleaned up than usual. Like he made an effort to make himself presentable, despite the thicker beard and hair that’s come to be solidified as Luther’s sea captain-style appearance.

Brows lift at the sight of him. “Luther,” Kaylee offers in polite greeting, loud enough to warn Carl to behave himself. “Thank you for coming. We’re just sitting down to breakfast. Join us?” The boy lets go of the Kiso dragon and slowly slumps into his chair, suddenly shy. His mom had not warned him about Luther’s joining them.

«Lookin’ good.» Kaylee offers warmly, privately, not wanting her son to take the comment wrong. Today was a small step in a journey to acceptance and she wouldn’t risk it.

The door is left for Luther to close behind him, he’s been there enough. Like being able to help himself to the fridge. While he settles, Kaylee gathers another plate to fill with bacon, toast and scrambled eggs. Carl, meanwhile, watches Luther warily. “Hello, Mr. Bellamy.” It doesn’t have that enthusiastic edge it’s had in the past, given mostly with guarded politeness.

Formalities observed, Carl picks up a piece of bacon; a throat clears in the kitchen. Kaylee eyes are laser focused on her son. When he looks at her, her brows pop up and eyes flick over to the dragons on the table. Her son is smart enough that it clicks almost immediately… or he might have had a mental reminder.

“Oh!” Carl turns back to Luther with a bit of an embarrassed smile. “Thank you for the dragon. It’s pretty primal.”

He doesn't comment aloud that he could smell the bacon from outside the door, but the invite in and silent communication gets a little nod and obedient step in. The door closes quietly behind him. Luther approaches the kitchen table, coming to a stop by a nearby chair but not quite sitting yet. "Hey Carl," he greets back, trying but somewhat failing to avoid nervousness and awkward feelings of confusion for the boy's guardedness.

Luther scrubs a hand over his trimmed beard, finally choosing a seat to pull out across from boy and dragons. The smile and thanks cause a lift of angled brows. Relief, in a way, of the weight of worry. "Oh, yeah, I see you put 'em together already." Primal gets a tilt of the man's head, a slight furrowing to his brow. He's heard the term, but it takes a minute before he figures it out and glances back to the telepath. "Primal, huh? You've been hanging out with Lance and the others," he says with a turn back to Carl. Luther nods at the newcomer dragon. "Bubba's not been ousted, I see."

“The kids occasionally babysit him and the girls,” Kaylee offers with amusement, Carl nodding in agreement while stuffing a corner of his toast in his mouth. “Told him grown-ups language is outdated and primal is the future.” The plate she had just fixed is set in front of Luther, before she allows herself to sit as well. A plate already in front of her.

The question about the dragon, gets a confused look from Carl. He doesn’t answer right away looking between the two red dragons sitting on the table in front of him, while gnawing on a bit of bacon. Eyes the same shade of blue as his mother, look past them to Luther. “Why would he be? New and shiny doesn’t always mean better, Mr. Bellamy. Just because he’s old and kinda broken doesn’t mean he isn’t still important to me. Besides, I can like them both,” Carl declares with a bright smile and a bite of his bacon.

There is a touch of pride in Kaylee, thought her attention shifts to Luther to watch his reaction to that. Taking a bite of her own piece of bacon, Kaylee chimes up with a smuggly amused, “Yeah, Luther.”

Luther nods as Kaylee explains about the ‘kids’, even if he gives a short shake of his head about primal is the future. With soft thanks uttered for the enticing breakfast platter, he glances down with some indecision of where to start. The moment is interrupted by a low mrowl from Willy having come over to Luther’s side to beg for fresh offerings. Luther looks to the old tomcat and sighs at the feline, an apology in it as he glances back over at Kaylee. The briefest of thoughts of giving the cat a slice of bacon are silently slid back.

He can offer the cat a light headscratch though, which he does as Carl remarks on the pair of dragons and provides a sage outlook. “Oh I see,” Luther says with a faint smile and nodding in agreement. “Old and kinda broken doesn’t mean worthless. Kinda like ol’ Willy.” Yes, deflecting to the cat, he looks heartened. Enough so that he finally tucks in with shoveling eggs onto the toast and topping it with bacon, making it into something of a breakfast slider. As he does so, Luther then muses, “So, they like to hang out together? Bubba and— what’s the new guy’s name?”

“Don’t know yet,” is Carl’s response about the name, picking up the articulated dragon and making the jaw work a few times, unintentionally mimicking it with his own mouth. “I don’t know how I came up with Bubba’s name, but I’m sure a name will come to me.” In fact, the kid stares at the dragon for a long time with a look of intense concentration. After a moment he sighs and shakes his head. “I wonder if the real dragon had a name. I’d name it that.” Cause of course dragons would be real for a little boy like that.

“Carl,” comes the warning from Kaylee and a motion to his plate. “Eat. The day isn’t getting any younger and you want to go to the park.” Mainly, she didn’t want him talking about the thing that may or may not be alive and well in their world. It was given power with knowing it and a name is often considered the most powerful thing.

Carl is quick to set the dragon on the table and pick up his fork, there is an air of excitement around him. “Wish we could go now.” Clearly, he wasn’t as food motivated at his mother and Luther. Speaking of… he notices what the man is doing with his food. Looking at his own plate, he starts pushing eggs onto the toast.

“You wanna go with us, Mr. Bellamy?” Carl asks out of the blue while he tries to mimic Luther’s time-efficient eating tactic. He looks up briefly and asks, “Wanna build a snowman? Bet there is enough to build a really big one.” Sandwich building pauses so he can lift his hands in the air to emphasize the imagined snowman’s size.

Kaylee looks from son to Luther, brows lifting as she speaks up, “I don’t have a problem with some more company.”

Nodding slowly, Luther accepts the as-yet anonymous red dragon and matter-of-fact logic Carl provides without interjection or correction. Dragons are real, so shall it be implied. He doesn’t miss the warning either, taking Kaylee’s command to his own heart. Not that she has to tell him twice, either. In short order, Luther crunches down on a bite of bacon, eggs and toast in one go and without much ceremony. It’s only belatedly that he notices Carl forming up eggs, and realizing that there’s a tiny bit of bad influence on the boy to dirty up the kid’s table manners with his chosen method of breakfasting. He swallows down quickly. Sorry, Kaylee.

The question turns Luther’s attention to the question, having nearly missed it for a second. “Go? To the park?” he echoes, a flash of uncertainty passing over his expression as he glances between the pair. It’s evident he hadn’t anticipated the activities of mother and son to include him. But he crooks a light smile for the invitation and with Kaylee’s endorsement, offers acceptance with another, firmer, “Sure. But, gotta finish eating first, then we’ll have enough energy to build a snowman that big. See if we can get ‘em big enough to stand toe-to-toe with a dragon.”

He affirms this proposal with another bigger bite of the breakfast slider, and another relieved smile at Kaylee.

“Oh! Then we should build a snow dragon!” Probably not what Luther meant by that, but the kid persists while he balances bacon on top of the eggs. ”But it has to be a good snow dragon, then he can tell the bad dragon that he doesn’t have to be bad,” Carl explains solemnly, pressing his second piece of toast on top of the pile of eggs and presses it down. “Maybe the bad dragon isn’t bad at all and he is just misunderstood.”

“Carl,” Kaylee repeats her son’s name again, pointing at his food, before he gets too far into his thoughts. If she is upset with Luther’s influence on her son’s eating habits, it doesn’t show. WHen he looks, he sees an almost relieved smile for her son. Maybe she was as nervous about today, when she proposed he show up for breakfast.

Carl is too busy trying to pick up his creation, to notice that smile. It’s hard for his smaller hands to hold on it, so the back end sags. When he bites into it, bits of egg and half a strip of bacon flopping out onto his shirt and rolls to the floor. Waiting for this opportunity, an excited Willy pounces on the dropped food, snags it, and bolts for his hiding spot.

Holly-Daze Winter Snow Fun Pop-Up at the Park, Williamsburg

Early Afternoon

“Oh noooo!” Carl whines out in disappointment, looking rather sad as the head of their snow dragon slumps and falls forward to the ground under the onslaught of warmth radiated by Luther, as the man tries to help place it. The heavily bundled boy picks up the head and holds it in gloves hands to look at it with a frown. “This isn’t working.” He looks at his mom, a bit helpless. His cheeks and nose tinged pink from the cold.

The telepath was bundled up just as warm as her son, to even include a hastily donned beanie. Fresh fallen snow glitters among the cascade of golden curls.

Kaylee takes the dragon head and gives it a bit of scrutiny. “Maybe a snowman wasn’t the best idea,” she says with voice on the edge of laughter. That humored look is turned to the man, with an added shrug of Oh well.

Luther frowns at the fallen dragon head and back to the bare neck snaking from a lumpy, mostly reptilian body with branches for talons and wings. While he resists giving in to the child’s despair, but it’s obvious that the man is trying very hard to figure out the solve to this construction problem. The more he handles things, of course, the more the snow under his touch tends to melt even through the gloves. He’s not abandoned the gloves entirely, even though they appear to be wet in some places.

With a look around to other families and people roaming the park, perhaps in an attempt to cheat and see what they’re doing, Luther catches sight of the look and the shrug and he narrows his gaze back at the telepath, his mouth thinning in a bit of apology. Was he making this hard for her too? The stray thought crosses, before he turns back to the problem at hand, that happens to be his hands. “Sorry,” he apologizes to the pair, “I’m originally from Los Angeles so, y’know, we don’t get much experience with snow. Maybe we gotta make the rest of him bigger,” he suggests vaguely, despite the dragon already being rather big-bodied and more snowman than dragon.

Carl looks rather downtrodden, eyeing the pile of snow in front of him. He really had his heart set on making that snow dragon. Finally, he sighs. “That’s okay, Mr. Bellamy. You tried and that’s what counts.” The kid is trying to be positive in the face of disappointment.

Kaylee looks relaxed when he looks at her. “It’s fine,” she reassures him noting the worry in his mental tone. “It was an ambitious project.” She looks at the dragon head in her hands. “But, I’ve got an idea how to salvage this.”

«Get ready to run, kiddo.»

Carl looks up at his mom’s mischievous mental whisper, only to brightening at the mental image dropped into his mind. He’s not great at pretending he didn’t hear anything, jumping to his feet with an excited laugh.

There is a wickedness to the smile that crosses the telepath’s face, as the ball is lifted over her head.

“Do it, mom!”

In that moment, the former dragon head is suddenly turned into a weapon and Kaylee declares war on her former security chief by smashed it into the back of his head.


You tried stings the older man’s pride, but Luther understands the sentiment and can’t fault the kid for being positive. Still, it’s hard to ignore the disappointment in Carl’s expression. Instead of ignoring it, he turns back to staring at the headless dragon and wonders how he might salvage it too. Luther remains utterly unawares of the Sumter-Ray mental conspiracy until it’s done. Carl’s laugh shifts the guilty glowering of the man, but too late. Do what? His brows lift when he looks to the young boy…

And then Luther cringes as wet snow breaks all over the back of his head, sliding down between his ears, rolling into the spaces between his sweater and the collar of his outer coat. The face he makes, teeth grit when he fights off the yelp of surprise that comes out more like a loud grunt. Luther spins and shoots an accusatory look at the mischievous telepath.

How. Dare. You.

But whatever offense is had, none is actually taken. Luther instead snorts much like the dragon they were trying to build, a visible plume of breath exhaled through nostrils, and shakes off what bits of snow he can. The man stoops, reaches for a globby handful of snow in his glove, all the while eyeing Kaylee and Carl. They have but a few moments to flee or re-arm as well. Because the next moment follows with a hefty helping of the snow dragon’s body being hurled in their direction!

When he twists to look at her, he finds an impish glimmer in those blue eyes and a smug twist her to smile. Gotcha! Next to them, Carl shrieks with childish laughter and her smile grows that much brighter. See? She salvaged the moment and pulled him from darkening thoughts.

“Mommy! Come on!” Of course, Carl has already left his mom behind or tries the snow up to his shins where it’s just above their ankles. Feet being lifted a bit higher, giving him a bit of a comical run. Hi joyous laughter drifting after him.

Back where his mother stands with Luther, Kaylee’s eyes widen as he dips to gather a large amount of snow. “Hngh…” Realizing her mistake, the telepath turns to run. There is no attempts to stop him mentally, this was going to be a fair fight.

About the time Kaylee catches up to her son, she gets a giant snowball to the upper back, which showers them both in clumps of snow. She stumbles forward from the impact, brushing at the snow gathering at her collar fuck that’s cold! and it’s her turn to shoot him a look.

Oh it was definitely.

Of course, Carl is delighted, giving a shake of his head to get snow off of it. “That’s all you got?!?” Kaylee gives him a look of surprise, but he doesn’t see it. Carl is too busy packing a new snowball to throw at the tall figure. His mother shoots Luther an amused look, brows lifting high, before moving to follow her son’s example.

“Ready?” Kaylee asks cocking her arm back, but Carl can’t wait. With his mightiest throw Carl sends his snowball flying towards his foe! It forces his mother to act quickly and throw her’s too.

Luther lets out a triumphant 'ha!' as he looses his initial volley and sees it shower the pair with crumbly snow. At least that first bit wasn't in his hands long enough to turn slushy. "Is it?" he echoes, looking down at his readily available supply of snow shaped into a fat, serpentine mound. With a decent chunk taken from it near his boots.

The man doesn't get much time to revel in his counterattack though, seeing as the pair start packing in more. Luther turns away and with a surprisingly nimble hop aided by long legs, slides over the snow dragon's body in seeking cover. The snowballs aimed at his back pelt him right between the shoulders and showers the headless dragon, harmlessly of course. Luther reaches up to brush off some of the lingering wet, then his gloved hands disappear from view when he bends down. Obviously, he's gathering up another large amount to lob in their direction. It does, however, leave him briefly vulnerable to smaller precision attack. Such is the principle of big guns needing to power up first.

When their snowballs finds its target, Kaylee cheers! “I didn’t miss!” This was a big deal, Luther of course knows why since he spent so much time helping her learn. Giving Carl a smug look, she holds out a hand palm up for him to slap. He does so with enthusiasm and then fist pumps with both arms.

Then they witness Luther rearming. Carl looks up at him mother. Bending down, Kaylee gather snow for a snowball and handing it to her son. “Wait,” Kaylee says softly to her son as she gathers another snowball. As she forms her own snowball, she quietly speaks to him.

“Got it?” Kaylee asks him and Carl gives her a firm nod and hurries off, while Kaylee throws her snowball at Luther’s hiding spot. “You’re outnumbered, Luther! Best surrender now!” As she calls out of him, Kaylee continues to reload and throw. “Or show me what you got, big guy!”

It’s all to keep his attention off the little boy sneaking behind nearby bushes and snow piles trying to sneak up behind Luther. Sometimes even crawling across the snow like a soldier through a mud trap.

Busily packing up as large a glob of snow as he can make in a short amount of time, Luther pauses when he realizes he hasn’t heard any taunts or had to duck any snowballs launched his way. Thought too soon, of course. He lifts his head from the relative shelter of the snowdragon, only to duck back down at the crumple of a snowball impacting and breaking on the dragon’s back. Kaylee’s goading gets his response. “Oh you’re going to see it in a moment,” he calls back as he finishes the shape.

Luther rears back up, holding what appears to be an alarmingly large, bowling ball sized globe of snow. Is he planning on hurling that right at Kaylee and Carl? Not quite. The man does a quick twist, lobbing the mass in an upward arc in the telepath’s general direction. Then just as it peaks, Luther focuses, hand lifting and a loud crackle-pop of small fireworks-like sparks bursts the snowy mortar to rain bits of icy chunks down upon her from above.

She’s never seen him do that before. From the incredulous stare that Luther has looking at what he’d just done, seems like he wasn’t expecting that to work either. And so distracted is he by it, that Luther doesn’t notice the approach of a young soldier’s ambush about to spring upon him.

There is a yelp from the telepath as the big snowball goes flying. There is no time to outrun it, so she drops to a crouch her arms over her head. The popping sound gets another surprised yelp, arms tightening around her head as the remains of the ball around over her.

She…. had not expecting that.

It shows on Kaylee’s face when she comes up from the crouch covered in snow, staring wide-eyed at Luther, mouth slightly agape. Whoa.

Behind Luther a small figure raises up from behind a snow bank, each hand holding a snowball. The appearance snaps Kaylee out of her shock and the snowy assault on the man resumes to keep him distracted from the tiny snowball assassin crouching at the ready behind him.

“Cheater,” Kaylee teases the man for his use of ability. “Try that again and see if you can,” she challenges with a grin. Brawn against brain so to speak. How well will his training paid off for him? With a clap of her hands, she motions at the man to ‘bring it.’

However, Luther won’t get a chance as all of a sudden there is a ‘RAWR’ - like a dragon - from behind Luther and Carl leaps to the attack both snowballs launched at his unprotected back.

Luther’s features twist with a crooked smile at the wide-eyed stare from the telepath, the expression not smug persay, but actually impressed with himself. Old dogs, new tricks, it’s a thing. “It’s not cheating for a game with hardly any rules,” counters the man. As such, the game without rules says nothing about sneak attacks. The roar suddenly behind him spins Luther around again, surprise warping his expression, wiping away the smile. What was supposed to be snowballs to the back splat soundly twice against the breadth of his broad chest and spray tiny flecks up to his face and beard. Direct hit! He squints, then stares down at Carl.

The small frown slowly curls back up at the corners to accompany a glint of mischief in grey eyes.


Though at the time, Carl had been crawling through the snow like a soldier in a mud trap, now… now, the ground is quite muddy in some spots. A wintry battlefield shows it has barely lasted the test of the past fifteen minutes. Other park goers, children and their families, chose their sides, picked allegiances and adversaries. Cold carnage wreaked havoc on the park grounds, but the “war” is finally over. Casualties include: the snow dragon’s body exists no longer, the snowman knight that never made it past the initial flurry, Kaylee’s knit hat now semi icy from snow and slush, and one drenched looking Luther plodding his way back to the bench after having wrung out his muddied jacket. At some point he’d slipped and unceremoniously flopped into the last remaining snowbank. It marked the end of battle.

Wet gloves have been tucked into coat pockets, but the man doesn’t fear the bite of the cold. Not just because he has cocoa, but his supernatural warmth has already dried his hands, and formed some pockets trapped within the winter coat. “To the victors, go the spoils,” announces Luther. A treaty is formed. The peace offering, cups of pricey hot cocoa, to be shared between the sides.

Setting down her wet beanie on the bench next to her, Kaylee takes the cup thankfully. “Thank you, Luther. You are a gracious loser,” she offered in return, giving him a knowing smile. There were no real winners or losers in a battle like that; just very wet and cold people.
Still Kaylee felt like one as her hands wrap around the styrofoam cups, savoring the warmth. A small tremble has started, which means this moment will end before long.

Next to her, Carl lights up at the prospect of such a treat. “Thank you, Mr. Bellamy.” Of course, he doesn’t miss the look his mother throws the man’s way or the smile. A real one. A happy one. Looking at his cup, brows furrow a bit. “That was fun. Emmy and Hannah will be sad they missed it.”

Kaylee’s smile twitches downward briefly, the only indication of the small stab of pain that comes with mentioning the girls. Emmy was at the age that she thought she was a grown up and Hannah looked up to her sister. So both felt they were too old for all that. Looking to derail that line of thought, Kaylee lets out a heavy sigh, “Know what I miss? Ice skating. I wonder if I still could.” She looks over at Luther. “I didn’t think to look and see if anyone was hosting one.”

“Ice Skating?” Carl asks, wrinkling his nose. Clearly, not a big fan.

The gracious loser shrugs a shoulder. Too late to be proud when there’s snow and mud all over your side. But he takes the ‘loss’ well, and his flushed cheeks wrinkle up in a shared happy moment. He passes the second cup over to the boy. “You’re welcome, Carl,” Luther responds politely, retreating to sit a short distance down the bench lest he share the mud with the pair. Carl’s mention of his siblings gets a brief glance over, then Luther looks over to Kaylee before he notes, “Oh yeah? But maybe once they see what you look like after, they’ll think twice before challenging your snowball fight championship status.” A hard fought victory indeed.

Ice skating, though, also causes Luther to balk. “I tried learning how to do it back when I first moved here. Was trying to impress somebody. But I’m bad enough on solid ground,” the man rumbles, looking down to his muddy boots and trying to imagine a sliver of an metal blade cutting through ice. He shakes his head slowly, knowing just how clumsy and baby-deerlike he’d look. From there though, he glances over at Carl. “Big takeaway? Don’t do nothin’ for the sake of impressing someone else.” At that, he takes a long sip of his cocoa. And makes a face of his own, given the liquid inside has cooled already in the chilly air. Thin cup walls will do that.

“That’s okay, Mr. Bellamy, I don’t ever want to skate on ice,” Carl states matter of factly, with a shake of his head. “Skating on sidewalks is hard enough. No one is worth a split noggin’.” The young boy takes a sip of his cocoa and mmm’s happily, feeting kicking as he sits between both adults.

“I dunno, Luther, I wouldn’t mind seeing that,” Kaylee comments lightly, teasing him over the top of her son’s head. “I can almost see it now. You gripping the wall for dear life. Bet it was kinda cu—.” In fact, there is something strangely familiar about the image he paints, deja’vu slaps her hard and stops her from saying more. A flash of memory, like a fading dream, forces her to look away at the battlefield and sip at her luke warm cocoa.

“Hmm,” Carl says suddenly, shaking Kaylee from her thoughts, “This is really good cocoa, but it’s kinda cold.” He admits sheepishly looks at both adults.

An apologetic smile is sent to Luther, before Kaylee chuckles and brushes at her son’s cap topped head, “Mine is too, but that’s okay. That’s what happens in the winter, especially, when drinking cocoa outside.” It was much warmer now, then it was when they started the adventure, but not much more.

Though Carl might miss the slide up of Luther’s angled brows and sidelong glance to the kid for the child’s wisdom that spouts from his mouth, no doubt Kaylee won’t. From out of the mouths of babes.

The telepath too, not likely to miss the recollection that surfaces in Luther’s thoughts, although her memory is of a different time than the one he recalls. She’ll know, though: his then girl he sought to impress had light brown hair, an intelligent sharpness to her soft yet discerning gaze, a thin-lipped smile that he didn’t mind being pressured to draw out by testing his physical limits on icy grounds at the time. And a faint reminder that in a way it felt like she’d been gone for years, even before the Midtown explosion.

Luther turns away to look at the same battlefield as Kaylee, with a quietly huffed sigh to try dismiss memory.

And then once more, Carl draws him back with the remark about lukewarm cocoa. Once more, Luther perks as the idea on a solution strikes. “I can help with that,” he says to the pair, turning so that he faces the two of them more fully. “Hold out your cups.” Instructions given, the man reaches out his hand to hover over them, fingers spread. Slowly but surely, they’ll feel first the radiant warmth seeping through their gloves. Then, as he focuses a bit more closely upon the cooled brown liquid surfaces, the cocoa starts to give off wisps of steam, and the tiniest bubbles form upon the surface of the drinks. Reheating done, Luther retracts his hand and smiles bigger. “Try it now,” he advises them.

As instructed, but cups are held out to the man, though Carl looks a little uncertain about what Luther plans to do. When he starts to feel the warmth radiating from the cup, his eyes widen and his mouth forms an ‘O’. When he draws the cup back, that look doesn’t change as steam rises from the liquid warming his nose and cheeks.

Whoa!” explodes from the little boy after he takes a careful sip. “That is so cool! I want an ability like that!”Almost as soon as he says it, there is a sheepish duck of his head, “No offense, Mommy.” Carl adds in apology.

Kaylee can’t help but laugh brightly, the ability isn’t new for her, having had her coffee heated a time or two when they worked together. Looping an arm around her son’s shoulders, she pulls him into a half hug. “No offense taken, baby,” the telepath says before planting a kiss on top of that beanie covered head. “That is a cool ability.”

Carl looks up between the two, but the full weight of those solemn blue eyes falls on Luther. “Thank you, Mr. Bellamy.” A man receives a bright smile that makes him look more like his mother. “You’re alright.”

Kaylee’s brows go up in pleasant surprise. What neither boys see is a small knot of tension relax.

The open admiration from the young boy is nice. Luther ducks his head, looking down to his hands. Carl’s enthusiasm comes as a strong reminder of the innocence of youth and the good times of a simple life, made better with an ability, not complicated by it. Luther glances back over when he’s addressed, inquisitive grey eyes meeting solemn blue. The thanks from the kid draws a smile from the man, crow’s feet wrinkling at the edges of his eyes. The smile, and more, the next two words that follow it deepen those laugh lines. “You’re pretty great too, Carl,” he replies quietly.

Maybe the young boy won’t realize, at least in this moment, how much warmth and hope he’s given both adults back.

Kaylee’s Apartment, RayTech Campus Housing, Jackson Heights

Late Afternoon

“He seems pretty tuckered out,” observes Luther, his tone quiet so as not to disturb the kid nodding off in his mother’s arms as they approach Kaylee’s apartment door. “Couldn’t blame him. It’s been a full day.” In his own arms, Luther has taken a careful guard of two precious objects so they don’t drop to the ground. Bubba and the new red dragon are carried along, never far from their friend Carl.

“He had a blast.” Kaylee reaffirms, her voice also pitched low. She doesn’t have to read the kid’s mind to know what he felt about the day. His inability to walk from the car to the apartment was enough proof.

Kaylee leans back to balance the dozing kid, so that she can let go with one arm and fish out her keys. It doesn’t look comfortable at all, but seems like a well-practiced move. Twisting so she can look at her friend, she offers a lop-sided smile. “I’m glad you were there. I told you it would go well.” She knows he had his doubts.

The door is opened letting the trio into the wonderfully warm apartment. Kaylee can’t help her own happy sigh to be home and warm.

The keys are places as quietly as the telepath can in the dish, before holding out a hand for the dragons. “Have a seat, I’m going to go put him to bed.” That only gets a mildly and very sleepy protest from the boy in her arms. Carl was losing the fight with consciousness quickly.

Luther chuckles, the sound short and gravelly. “I wasn’t necessarily just talking about him though,” the man says as he enters the apartment after. You did say that,” he adds, “and thank you. It was a good day.” The assessment sounds mild, but he’ll remember it with fondness. The laughter, the joy.

And, as his body soreness will no doubt remind him, the physical exertion. How kids have so much energy.

As he tucks both dragons back into Carl’s sleepy hold, propping them against the balance of Kaylee, he blinks as the feeling of the moment’s sentiment washes over him. A glance flicks back to the telepath, for a split second the man looks awkward as he steps back. She’d told him to sit and stay. But should he?

The internal questioning is interrupted by the external sandpapery mrowl of Willy the cat’s emergence from the hallway to the bedrooms. A sort of well, well, well, where’s my treat expectation, when the cat spies Luther. The man clicks his tongue, dampening down on his doubts in favor of fulfilling a present need. While Kaylee heads to put Carl to bed, he heads to the kitchen to pull out a treat.

It takes some time and Luther can hear soft voices in the kid’s room, but eventually Kaylee comes out and gently shuts the door. She stands there for a moment with her head tilted, listening to the other room before giving a small nod. Carl was asleep.

“Thank you,” Kaylee says softly now that it was just them, “for helping me make this day special for Carl. He doesn’t show it, but me not being there is affecting him more than he admits, especially with Christmas coming.” It would be the first Christmas that mother and son were apart. Eyes dips down with the weight of the guilt she feels over that. It’s affecting her too, it seems.

Kaylee smiles weakly as she moves to shift back to the positives of the day. The telepath joins him in the kitchen with the cat. A hand brushed over the cats back, where he’s jumped up the counter. “Today was a win. He seems to be warming up to you again.” Turning to lean against the counter watching man and cat interact, she adds, “Helps that you’re so good with him and that dragon flame thing you did…?” she chuckles, looking away to the cat, scritching the base of his tail. “Carl told me he wants a dragon power, too.”

A bit of bologna for Willy, a bit for Luther. The arrangement between man and beast is maintained well. The man glances over as she rejoins, looks down to his singular slice of sandwich meat, and feels his cheeks flush with a touch of embarrassment for how weird he must appear. Barbaric. But the mention of Carl and the day’s general outcome have him looking up again.

The dragon flame thing gets a quiet chuckle out of Luther. “I know, and here I am telling him not needing to do anything to impress anybody,” he admits, his head shaking at himself, “‘Do as I say, not as I do,’ as the saying goes.” He slowly folds the remnant of the bologna in his fingers, torn between the urge to eat it himself or to surrender it to the cat who looks quite expectantly at the man. Ahem. Excuse me, are you going to eat that?

He picks off another small bite for Willy.

“I’m glad he doesn’t think I’m trying to upset him,” Luther says. Eyes shift from the cat to the telepath, watching her rather than the cat. He worries about the delicate balance she’d been working on with her and her family’s situation, the whole matter of custody. At least for today, it seemed that Carl was effectively distracted, and maybe so was she. “I was thinking,” he starts to say but hesitates, gauges, and continues, “If you’re not taking the holiday shift at the station, or if you need a reason to dodge out of a family holiday party… there’s soup kitchens that’ll always be needing some volunteers. They helped me out before, so…”

He stuffs the remaining bologna into his mouth, mostly to stop himself from giving too much to the cat, and otherwise keep him from stumbling over the awkwardness of his invitation to an activity not usually on a majority of people’s schedules.

The embarrassment and awkwardness gets an amused glance, though Kaylee can’t seem to look at him without a slight flush of her own cheeks. “I’d… I’d actually like that,” Kaylee says giving a small nod, smiling a bit more. It had been awhile she had done what she had enjoyed. Soup kitchen on Christmas seemed like the perfect distraction.

“Hey, Luther…” Reaching out once the bologna is eaten, Kaylee grabs his hand. She doesn’t curl her fingers with his, but turns it over, palm up. Her own hand disappears under his much bigger one. The free hand pulls something from her pocket. All the while, she talks softly, “You said that night on the phone that we are a part of your family.” Her and Carl she means. He feels cool metal pressed into his hand, before she curls his fingers over it trapping it there in the warmth of his hand.

“I’m glad, ‘cause, through all this craziness you managed to become a part of mine, someone I trust with what’s important to me.” Kaylee keeps her hands clasped around his, a sheepish - almost shy - smile angled up at him. “I don't know where this life is going to take us or what our future’s hold, but it seems clear that the strings of our fate are tangled. For better or worse. Either way… ”

Kaylee let's go of his hand and leave him holding a single key, with a keyring attached. A handmade bobble probably from Red Hook Market. A A pressed flower with yellow petals and a black center. The whole thing is encased in a resin disk to preserve it for all time.

Her favorite flower.

“I want you to know that you’ll always have a place to call home with me.”

Mouth full, Luther utters a confused noise at her taking his previously sandwich meat holding hand. It’s also partly protesting, seeing as it’s a soiled set of digits. But he doesn’t deny her access, glancing from her face to her fingers and back up as she speaks. The cool metal, her comparatively cool fingertips as well, draw his attention down to the unexpected temperature drop and mystery object. Her next words lift his gaze up to the telepath. It’s hard to form the words, but he cants his head at her sheepishness and sentiments.

Finally, she releases him to reveal the key and bright flower charm, and finally he manages to swallow down the bologna. He didn’t exactly chew it either. But in the moments the bologna is passing down his throat, he studies the black-eyed susan. Still wordlessly, he closes his hand around the flower-charmed key and his head bows. A second swallow pushes down the tightened knot of his throat, and he looks back up at her.

A small but genuine smile spreads over his face, enhanced by the wrinkled crow’s feet at the edges of his eyes, tinted by the emotion pulling his brows down the center. Then he steps forward, arms reached out to wrap her in a hug. It’s all he can do to express a deeper feeling of appreciation that comes with the small object he tightens his curled fingers around. His exhaled breath behind her forms from a sense of relief. Words can barely express the rest, but he tries.

“Thank you.”

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