How Long?


joseph_icon.gif kaylee2_icon.gif

Scene Title How Long?
Synopsis In the late hours of the night, there is a long awaited reunion — though it was a longer wait for one then the other.
Date November 21, 2010

Pollepel Island:Kitchen

It took a couple of stories — read softly by flashlight — and even Kaylee curling up in the cot with her, before Emily finally drifted off to slumber. But finally, the telepath was able to slip out of the room of slumbering children, closing the door as quietly as possible. As soon as the door clicked, Kaylee let out a heavy sigh of relief. She may be grateful of the distraction the toddler brings, but she still is happy for those moments of freedom.

Of course, that freedom has her in the kitchen, making sure everything is ready for the morning. It means less time pulling things together and more time cooking. A flashlight is balanced on the edge of a table pointed towards a set of cabinets. It casts the room in a faint glow of light and does almost nothing to push back the deep dark shadows.

Fingers reach up to brush at a length of hair that has fallen loose from the loose bun at the back of her head. It's a habit from Victorian New York. It also tames the hair that after five years brushes her lower back.

One day she'll get her hair cut.

The crucifixes that Joseph gave her to keep safe, glint in the low light cast by the flashlight, as Kaylee turns to hold a can where she can read the label. She wears them in the open tonight along with the band of gold — now on her right hand ring finger — as the symbols of hope and faith that they are that she'll see the pastor again.

And so that he'd be at the memorial in spirit at least.

When do you go to the kitchen when you don't desire to encounter anyone?

The dead of night.

Unfortunately— or maybe fortunately— you might encounter some likeminded people when you're there. Joseph's approach is quiet and also only heard by the time it's too late, although Kaylee isn't the one that's avoiding people. He's since changed his clothes for all that he wasn't afforded that luxury while under arrest. Had a shower. Slept about five hours, utterly dreamlessly, and woke up hungry and a little apathetic. But basic human instinct is a good motivator.

A thick woolen sweater, a forest green and a little musty. Jeans that fit him okay. Thick socks on his feet. Hand-me-down items of Ferry charity that aren't uncomfortable if vaguely pathetic. When he steps in, and sees her, it's less exuberant, less dramatic than arriving on her doorstep in Victorian glory, her returned soldier. He goes still and guilty.

When she finally notices there is someone not too far from her, Kaylee doesn't look yet, but still acknowledges they're there with a "Hey, sorry I was just — " Anything she was going to say stumbles to a stop, having looked to see who's mind is whispering against her mental walls. Fingers go slack out of shock, as she turns towards the door, sending the can clattering to the ground noisily. It's loud in the quiet of the night.

"You're… okay."

The breathless words are relieved and exuberant. Oh how she had worried. "With the rumors…." Kaylee trails off, unable to continue or to even think about what could have been. Instead the can is left behind, her legs automatically working to close the distance between them.

"You're okay." She can only only think to repeat that, as work roughed hands move to just touch him, to see if he's real, eyes shiny with threatening tears. Long fingers splayed on his chest, rest there for a only moments as she studies his face, as if trying to refresh faded memories.

Whether he feels guilty or not, impulse takes over and Kaylee throws arms around him in tight hug. "Oh thank God," she chokes out, holding on to him as if he might disappear again.

His disappearance was something physical, at least, quantifiable in handcuffs and black bags and grumbling trucks. Stuff you can touch, see. Kaylee was the one that disappeared into thin air, which is why Joseph's arms wrap solid around her waist, pull her into the embrace. A soft sound at the back of his throat is less wordy by a long shot, and he just holds her for a little while. For a longer while, actually, when he realises what it is he wants to ask her.

Something more substantive than are you okay? Slightly more invasive, too, in that most people wouldn't think to ask just by looking at her, unless you have a sense of what to look for. There is no give in the loop of holding around her waist, Joseph refusing her room to budge. It's easier to ask when they aren't looking at each other.

"How long?"

So wrapped up in the fact she's there with him, it takes her a moment to realize what he's asking and he can feel her body stiffen a little in his embrace. Kaylee doesn't force herself back to look at him, maybe she's afraid to see his face, but she stays held where she is, eyes staring off into the darkness. There is a hesitation, teeth worrying her lip, fingers curl into fabric, but she still doesn't answer right away, or at least the answer he wants at that moment.

"It's not important," she whispers, head turning slightly as it rests against his own, breath warm against his neck. Kaylee isn't trying to brush away the question, she knows better then to hide the answer from him, but she at least tries to reassure him. "You went back there for me and that is what matters."

It probably doesn't soften the blow, as after a few moments of not answering she finally whispers, "Five years."

Five years is a changing amount of time, but Joseph can maybe— and does, unabashedly— take comfort in her clinging to him. Because that hasn't changed, apparently, and up close, he can't tell that five years filled up the few weeks she was gone.

Or at any distance, really. It's something read in her eyes, rather than her face. "That's what matters," he agrees, after some silence, said so quietly that no one but someone bundled as close to him as Kaylee is would have been able to pick out the syllables, string them into words with meaning. "God. I'm sorry, Kaylee, I didn't— didn't even think like that, it was only a coupla weeks or so after you— " And he draws away from her then to talk better, holding her arms just above her elbows in a gentle grip. "— disappeared and I never imagined it wouldn't'a been the same.

"Five whole years?"

When he pulls away, hands wipe at wet cheeks, head ducking a little so that he doesn't have to let go. "Yeah…" She confirms with a sniff, but she doesn't go on to say that she felt everyone of those years, the way they stretched on. Kaylee doesn't want him to feel guilt for that, cause it truly wasn't his fault. So Joseph gets a weak, if waving smile.

"I never expected it to be like that either," she admits softly. Kaylee glances down and catches the gleam of gold on her finger, something it makes her give a soft huffed laugh. "Or to have to keep the lies going for so long." She lifts the hand so he can see the gold band, looking a little embarrassed it's still there.

Looking away and down, cheeks reddening, though it's hard to see in the dim light, Kaylee starts to work the band off her finger as she talks, "Single woman my age are looked down on and have no rights, so… I told them I was married." She glances up, but her eyes don't lift past his chest. "Not hard… I had to explain who Joseph was, when I finally woke up from my injuries. I was kind of torn up when they found me…"

Realizing she's babbling, Kaylee closes her eyes and shakes her head. "Sorry," the word is murmurs softly, as the band finally slides over her knuckle, freeing it and leaving the finger empty.

He. Will. Come to terms with this later. In the same kind of quietly bewildered way he was for the first few days of arrest, Joseph blinks across at Kaylee in the gloom, where the flashlight strikes a halo through her over-long blonde mane. His hands slide down to grip her wrists around when she's taking off that ring, blinking again only down at it this time, but he doesn't protest her taking it off. Doesn't stop her, either, just let's go and awkwardly places his own hands on his hips.

"No, that's— that's smart of you. I guess I'm still wrappin' my brain around it."

Long fingers tuck the band in the palm of one hand hiding it from view, her eyes on the closed for a long moment, brows furrowing. "I lived it… and it's all surreal, like some long dream." Kaylee looks up at him then, expression unreadable for a moment, while the ring disappears into her pocket. "Heck, being here and knowing that I have changed, but nothing else…" There a pained look in her eyes, before she glances down, letting the words trail off.

Head down like that, realization flits through her eyes when the glint of gold draw her attention. "Oh!" Carefully she reaches up behind her neck. "I should — " the clasp gives and the pair of crosses that Joseph gave into her care, slid from around her neck leaving a single thin gold cross behind. Another change. " — give these back to you."

Moving to hook the two symbols of faith back where they belong, Kaylee says softly, 'I'm sorry it took so long to get these back to you." As she fumbles with the clasp, her lighter eyes use the closeness of the moment to study his much dark ones. "But, if it means anything, they were a comfort while you were gone."

"I find that," Joseph agrees, gently, on the notion of comfort — first time his mouth twitches into a smile, fleeting though it may be. His head ducks a little, knees bend, to make it easy on her to pass the pendants back where they're meant to be. "And, you know. You'd have had a helluva time tryin' to get those to me before tonight, so… no harm in that." A hand wanders up to lay his fingers over the twin shape of both crucifixes, the soft clink of glass, gold, silver knocking together only just barely detectable.

That hand shifts, then, to place at the base of her throat, only fractionally shying away from her paler stare before, with a sense of shyness— and probably less to do with him, being a grown divorcee and all, and more to do with her five year absence— closes the space between them with a kiss. There are gentler ways of finding out where they stand.

Hell if he can figure 'em out right now.

It's possibly a good thing he's not the telepath, cause he'd know how awkward this was for her and the uncertainty and stress that came with it. Yet, Kaylee had played this moment over and over in her head, with various reactions from him, from the good to the bad. The woman thought she was prepared for all contingencies, but…


Every — last — thought is lost with that brush of lips, herself hesitating ever so slightly. The kiss brings with it a warmth of affection and a certain amount of knowledge. Suddenly — just like that — all the worry of him rejecting her for being half a decade older is shattered and scattered into oblivion and there is no more hesitation. Fingers curl into the rough wool of his sweater, to help keep her on her feet, as she responds to his affection.

Of course, it's that time away — those five years of being alone with her memories — that threatens to turn an innocent questioning kiss into something — well — more.

And it's that knowledge that forces her to stop, leaning away in an attempt to curb that desire and breath so that she can think clearly. Not the time nor the place, her Victorian tempered brain tells her. Instead, she rests her forehead against his, eyes closed since they are too close to see clearly.

With a shaky sigh, Kaylee murmurs, "I've missed you."

"In that case, I'm a blessed man." Five years is a long time. Their relationship as it stands now could be repeated that many times with more room to spare. And then physical closeness of this nature is tolerated for only a split second more, before Joseph is shying away from it again— not callously and not with some physical indication of finishing, hands up to smooth back those loose flyaway strands of blonde before disconnecting completely.

Time— as ever— will tell how important those five years will be. "How's your hurt?" he asks, backing up and then turning for the pantry. Pull out some bread for a late night sandwich. Maybe there's bologne, cheese. Fresh things that Joseph doesn't have too much of a sore conscience for tapping, at least for his first meal after break out.

With his back turned, Kaylee takes a moment to lean back against the heavy table, hand touching the surface for only a moment as she steadies herself and calm the rapid beat of her heart. "It's good," she's at least able to answer. Eyes dropping to the floor and the dropped can, hidden partially under a cabinet. "Still restricted from lifting anything really heavy."

Allowing herself to settle into the ease of simple conversation, Kaylee moves to retrieve the can. "Just another scar," she tries to quip lightly, but it ends up falling flat.

Reaching around him, to set the can on the shelf, Kaylee glances at the bread with a small smile. "You'll have to tell me what you think about the bread." There is a familiar mischievous tilt of her lips as she turns away, intent on finding him something to put in a sandwich.

In short order, foil wrapped left over chicken is set on the table for him, follow by a brick of a yellow cheese and an apple should he desire it.

"I made that bread," she declares quietly.

Waving him to have a seat on the bench, in a clear gesture of, 'let me do this.' How many times had she mentioned an inability to cook and having burnt cookies a time or two? She knows for her it is a major change. Not a bad one really, since it allows her contribute to the efforts on the island.

He gets as far as knifing off two modest slices of the loaf before Kaylee is taking over, and there's a ritual in that instilled enough in Joseph's system for him to cede her control of the kitchen. He drifts aside, confusion like a pulling chord through his brow to create small wrinkles of tension. "Yeah?" Joseph offers, but doesn't push it much further than that, some part of him undesiring when it comes to bringing up the last five years— for her— to the light of day. Still, he smiles at her, leans against kitchen counter. "You must be a hit out here."

Weariness has him knuckling against his brow, that hand sliding back to rub the back of his neck and watching her put the simple midnight meal together. Reaches to take apple and a paring knife from its holder, slicing off small slices to nibble. "You— you're okay with staying out here for a while? Just." He tips his head a little to the side, eyes on his work. "I may need to."

"I don't know about a hit…" Kaylee comments with a slightly flat tone, though it's obviously faked, since she glances at him with a slightly shy smile. Taking over the preparation of the sandwich — even if his is more the capable of making it himself — there is just a part of her that finds some satisfaction in the task.

Carefully and with practiced ease, the telepath works on slicing through the brick of cheese, which is never a simple task. She uses it as an excuse not to answer him right away, brows furrowing a little as she tries to figure how she really feels about that? Finally, though she can only think of one answer to that…

"Home is where the heart is."

The words are soft even in the silence of the kitchen, her head turning his way a little, glancing at him out of corner of her eye while placing the slices on the bread. "Honestly, what is there to go back too?" There is a touch of bitterness there, but she just shakes her head. "I have not lived at Gun Hill for years, not much to miss." Which might be weird, if she hadn't spent five years being deprogrammed from a technology driven age. Before she had been dumped over a hundred years into the past, she seemed to love her computer and devices.

"My family is here and… it's not much different then the life I have been living…" There is slightly confused look that crossed her features. "… had been living." Kaylee's head ducks down a little when she corrects herself, which shadows her face from the light of the flashlight. Going quiet, she works to open the chicken, the foil crinkling loud even if she's trying to keep the noise down.

The other half of the apple is divided into slices, these collected and placed on a cutting board. It's set down on the table that Kaylee works at, Joseph easing himself to sit and pushing this offering of fruit to the woman to enjoy when she's done. He nods along with her words, although it's surface understanding — probably, he'll need a little longer for the whole five years to sink in. Probably starting with the action of her making him a sandwich, simple action though it is, and with bread she made herself.

His gaze drops to his own hands, making an inwards shrug with his shoulders. "Do you reckon you're gonna miss 'em?" He skims the pad of his thumb against the ghost line of where his wedding ring used to sit, still used to fidgeting with it after all these months. "The people you knew back in 18-whatever it was?"


It's the only answer Kaylee supplies at first, her lips pressing into a fine line and her eyes firmly on what she's doing. Namely, she's slicing what's left of a chicken breast, knife slowly sawing through the cold meat at an angle. Each slice is deftly added to the sandwich. When done, she starts folding the food back into the foil and finally says, "It wasn't my place in time anyhow… I could never really have a life there."

Too many butterflies to crush.

"Besides, I had one here I desperately wanted to get back too." She turns her back on the pastor, while she puts away the chicken and the cheese. "I'll still miss them, cause they were like a family to me." Her shoulders lift a little in a shrug, but her voice seems a touch strained, like she's starting to fight with her emotions. "I got lucky that Margaret found me and nursed me back to health…"

Turning back suddenly, Kaylee holds up the containers, one in each hand, asking simply, "Mayo or Mustard?"

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