I Know I'm One



Scene Title I Know I'm One
Synopsis Kaydence Damaris returns to Niagara Falls to mourn the death of Kain Zarek nearly a decade prior.
Date November 8, 2020

Niagara Falls.

The falls rise one-hundred and sixty-seven feet from the Niagara River. On the United-States side, the best view comes from within Niagara State Park’s observation landing. On any normal day this park would be crowded with tourists, but on an abysmally cold and rainy November day there is only one car sitting on the road adjacent to the observation deck. Like clockwork. It isn’t the same car every year, but it is the same driver.

Freezing spray from the falls has turned the ground glittering like diamond spray, a thin sheet of near-invisible ice covered everything, made ever-slipperier from the rain falling from the sky. It is just barely warm enough for this not to be a blizzard. From the driver’s seat of the parked car, the Falls’ solitary visitor watches the cascading white water through a rain-streaked driver’s side window.

The stark gray pillar of the observation tower rises up into view through the car’s windshield. It is only hazily visible in the heavily falling rain. Red lights flash on top of the tower warning planes from approach. Looking at her muted reflection in the glass of the driver’s side window, Kaydence Lee Damaris is left with the same empty pit in her stomach she has every year at this time.

She knows who isn’t coming.

Niagara Falls State Park
Niagara Falls, New York

November 8th
4:12 pm

It’s a national day of mourning, and maybe most people don’t think that’s the time to engage in sightseeing, but everyone mourns in different ways. Kay isn’t here to mourn the death of New Yorkers’ way of life as they know it, though. The latch of the door pops and sounds impossibly loud in the stillness of the cabin. The closing of that same door behind her is less so with the noise of the world beyond. Everything’s left behind in the car. It isn’t likely anyone’s going to come looking to commit theft in this place right now. The pickings are slim enough to make it not worth the effort.

The corner of her mouth quirks upward in a wry smile as she starts forward toward the decks with their telescopes and their placards of trivia. She isn’t always the only one here, but it’s fitting that she is this time.

And she is so very, very alone as she walks the observation deck. She’s never been more glad that there’s nobody around to observe. It’s so grey and there’s only the roar of the falls to keep her company. Kay is overwhelmed suddenly by her grief and reaches out to catch the guardrail in her hand. It’s cold and slick under her palm, the shock of it keeps her grounded in the moment.

For a time, all she does is stare into the dismal gloom and cry. It’s strange to her that she was ever able to move on from the loss of her husband, the man who should arguably have been the greatest love of her life. The loss of the next man she attempted to let past the walls she built up after Spence’s death was made easier with the passage of time. Maybe it was because Matt had hurt her. He’d spurned her and she’d felt foolish for ever letting someone in.

But it’s the one that truly got away that she just can’t shake. He had rejected her too, hadn’t he? For good reason, she knows now with distance and time. But he’d clearly chosen her again. They were supposed to…

Kaydence Lee can’t shake the ghost of Kain Zarek, no matter how she tries. “Come back to me,” she begs in a whisper.

I should’a made you stay,” Kay sobs, holding tightly to the rail. “I should never have let you go.” She shakes her head as her tears fall.

How could you leave me?!” she shouts at the falls, as though maybe they would carry her pain to the one she loves and urge him to return to her. One foot braces against the lower rung of the guard.

Her face is practically numb by this point, the all-weather fabric of her jacket slick but at least she’s mercifully dry beneath. Were it not for the ballcap she’s wearing her scalp would be frozen solid. Especially on the observation deck, overlooking Canada and the falls. The wind and spray from the falls is bitingly cold, but in a way it’s refreshing. Reinvigorating.

Kay stands there long enough for her cheeks to flush red and nose to prickly with cold. Rain drips off the brim of her cap, she can feel ice starting to crust on parts of her waterproof jacket. Her jaw is trembling from not just emotion, but now cold. A dull throb aches through the back of Kay’s skull, a tension headache setting in from stress and cold.

All of that flushes away when she realizes she’s not alone on the observation deck. Just barely visible, a hundred and fifty or so feet to her right, someone she hadn’t noticed earlier leans away from a railing. Darkly dressed, hood up. Slouched against the railing that far away they looked like a trash can or a post. But now she’s clear it’s a person.

A person who looks in Kay’s direction… and then starts to briskly walk away.

Whatever she’d been about to do is derailed when she realizes she’s not alone. Blinking rapidly, Kay’s head swivels to get a better look at who’s out there. Condensation that’s started to give way to rime clings to her lashes. She angles a look back to see if another car pulled up while she was out here screaming into the void.

Seeing nothing, she looks back to where the figure is now retreating. Could be a groundskeeper, but she doubts it. If it was someone who patrolled this area, she’d be scolded for looking like having been about to climb the rail. (Wouldn’t be the first time.)

She’s being left well enough in peace, so why does she feel the need…?

They looked at her. They looked at her and then decided to walk away. “Fuck it,” Kay growls under her breath, dropping her foot back to the ground with the other so she can pivot and start after the stranger. “Hey!” she calls, trying to get their attention.

That’s when they start to run.

“Well now that’s just rude.” Kay tips her head from one side to the other as though that might limber her up somehow. She grips the railing and uses it as a lever point to help her surge forward as she breaks into an ill-advised sprint across the rain-slicked deck.

As Kay starts to give chase the person she’s following slips on the ice, much as she fears she might. He crashes down onto his hip, scrambles to get back up. That’s when she notices he dropped a gun. When the hooded man turns back to reach for the gun, Kay is closing in on him. He looks up to her, eyes wide, mouth parted in a grimace of pain and frustration.

Her blood turns to ice.


The gun doesn’t slow Kay down a bit. Maybe it’s the years of police training lingering with her, having taught her not to freeze. Maybe it’s the time spent handling contract murder. Maybe it’s the suicidal depression.

“Is that for me, you piece of shit?!” she shouts angrily as she closes in, seeing him reach for the weapon. “You better not fucking mi—”

That face.

That face.

Kay gasps sharply and tries to pull up, but instead goes skidding forward, throwing her arms out ahead of her as she loses her footing and lands hard. Not quite on her face, but it’s a near enough thing. The bones in her wrists and in her forearms practically vibrate from the impact.

Scrambling to at least get up on her hands and knees, she tries to get another look at the other tangle of limbs on the ice. Surely her mind is playing tricks on her. It has to be that she only saw what she wanted to see. Because she wants so desperately to see him. A hard blink should be all it takes to clear her vision and show her the truth.

“No.” Kain whispers, blue eyes darting around the observation deck. He raises his hands, backing away from the handgun on one knee. “No, no, y’weren’t supposed t’come. Y’weren’t supposed t’be here.

That voice is like a knife, cuts through Kay the way her daughter talking about her late husband does. She feels the pit of her stomach twist, that tension headache gets worse. Her heart is racing, vision blurs. A panic attack starts to come on.

“You need t’get back in your car and get the hell out of here.” Kain says with his hands still raised a little. “Why’d ya’ come out here? Ah’ sent you a dozen text messages. Ah’ tried t’warn ya’.” Kain’s eyes are frozen on Kay’s face, expression wracked with guilt.

Nothing makes sense.

Kay stares dumbly, breathing hard from the sprint and the panic alike. “What are you— How are you—” She isn’t certain when she started crying. Isn’t sure she stopped crying since she got out of her SUV. There’s so many questions swimming through her mind.

Her vision starts to blur. Is it the tears, the freezing rain, or the sudden onslaught of headache? “Texts?” That’s honestly the least of her inquiries here, but it’s the one that draws the most incredulity. This man has been dead ten years, but he’s sent her text messages?


A roar of engines breaks Kay out from her confusion. Over her shoulder she sees a row of black SUVs roaring in from the road, no license plates, tinted windows. One peels in front of her vehicle and swerves to cut it off, another blocks her in from behind and a third starts to drive down the fucking stairs from the road onto the observation deck walkway.

Kain looks up to Kay and slides the gun across the ice toward her. “Ah’ve got a car back that way,” Kain says with a jerk of his thumb over his shoulder below the observation bridge where a road follows the curve of the cliffs. “They’re here fer you, not me. Go, Ah’ll catch up. Promise.”

Kay’s head is swimming.

What?” Kay’s attention snaps back over her shoulder, toward the parking lot. “Who the fuck—?” Looking back to Kain, she shakes her head quickly. “Me? Why me?” There are so many good reasons why her. She knows this. The question is just which why.

It doesn’t matter why. She knows he’s right.

“I don’t believe you,” she all but sneers, grabbing the gun up off the deck and checking the clip before she climbs to her feet, shoving it in her coat pocket so she can grab the deck rail with one hand and reach to haul Kain up with the other. “You’re nine years fuckin’ late, and I am not letting you out of my goddamn sight again.”

The rail keeps her from staggering when the world seems to lurch beneath her feet. “C’mon,” she tugs at his arm. “I don’t think I can make it without you.” If he needs a better excuse than her own misguided sense of betrayal. “We gotta go.” Kaydence shoves him forward. “C’mon, go go go!”

A look is shot over her shoulder again at the vehicle bearing down on them. “Fuck!” She wraps her frozen fingers around the gun, drawing it as she starts to run.

Kain starts to run ahead, but then pivots and looks back at Kay and brushes past her. “Ah’ led them here! Ah’ll buy you time!” He shouts back at her. “Trust me! Go!” When Kain starts moving again it’s toward the SUV barreling down at them. The vehicle skids to a stop as Kain waves his arms over his head like he’s trying to flag down the cops.

Kay tries to reach for Kain, to pull him back, but her purchase on his sleeve is weak and he slips through her fingers. “No!” She breathes out hard once. Twice. “Come back to me,” she begs in a whisper before she turns and resumes her proposed escape.

Kay catches a glimpse of people dressed in black with guns getting out of the SUV as she scrambles across the ice, running as fast as her legs can carry her beneath the high observation bridge above. She slips at one point, falls and slides on a downward slope until the heel of her boot catches dry asphalt. She’s up in an instant, skidding to a halt. Ahead there’s just more road, no oncoming vehicles though. To her right she sees a champagne-colored four-door sedan idling near a chain-link fence cordoning off a maintenance area.

Her lungs burn from the exertion and from the cold. Nobody’s been shooting at her, though, so that’s a silver lining to the way she feels at the moment. Slowing up to a jog, she makes her way toward the idling car. Shit. He must’ve expected to find her here, right? Maybe after she didn’t respond to those—

What fucking messages?

Kay’s fingers catch on the chainlink as she staggers, again finding herself in dire need of an anchoring point. Doubling over, she heaves once, but nothing worse than a deep hack. Her head lifts and she listens for— Anything. Shouting. Gunfire. Engines. Footsteps?

What is he doing? If he’s flagging them down, and they’re listening while she’s been running…

Turning her attention to the vehicle again, Kay swallows dryly. She should jump in and just leave. Is that what he intended for her to do in the first place? Brown eyes shift back before her head follows suit to survey the way she came again. He also had to know that if she’d be afraid that if she left now, she’d never know more about him. How this moment came together or what happened to him after.

Kain has to know Kay would never leave him again.

So either he’s very confident he can call off the dogs on her heels…

Or this is a setup.

Kay finds her answer when a sweep of green light traces through the rain and hones in on her forehead. Then another, and another. Five men in black tactical gear and helmets move out from the hedges on the opposite side of the road from the car, assault rifles drawn. Two more come around from the corner of the building. Kay sees movement in the back seat of the car as another rises up and presses the muzzle of an assault rifle to the glass of the window.

They’d boxed her in, cornered her, and… Kain led her into an ambush.

For a moment, all she hears is her own panting breaths as her chest rises and falls visibly. Then the roar of the falls. Or maybe that’s just blood in her ears? Those’re ringing, too.

She knows the protocol. First, Kay raises her hands slowly, she makes sure her finger isn’t on the trigger of the gun, which she holds up a little bit higher before calling out, “I’m gonna set this down!” She isn’t shaking, even from the cold now. She isn’t scared. She’s just numb.

Bending down toward the ground at a pace even she finds agonizing, she flicks her wrist to send the gun skidding over the frosted ground, out of her reach. Closing her eyes, she takes a breath before she straightens up again, hands still held about shoulder level.

Unbidden laughter bubbles up. Sardonic and someone unconvinced any of this is actually happening to her right now. Maybe this is just another one of those nightmares, like the other night. Maybe she’s about to wake up in her own bed. “What army did y’all think I brought with me?” Kay shakes her head and takes a mental stock of how many guns there are. “Overreact much?”

The man inside the car pushes the back door open unceremoniously and grabs Kaydence by the shoulder, putting a boot to the back of her leg to take her down to her knees on the asphalt. She feels the barrel of his assault rifle against the side of her neck; cold, wet metal. The others emerge from the haze of rain that is now just beginning to transition to sleet as the light of day is fading.

The gunman behind Kay fishes through her pockets, finding nothing of worth. He then gives her an aggressive shove at the middle of the back and steps away, but she can feel the gun trained on her. That headache throbs louder, the numb cold pricks at her fingertips and palms. Her nose tingles, lips unfeeling.

There’s only the barest grunt for the takedown she’d been expecting. Her hands link together behind her head while she’s searched. Apart from a gum wrapper and some receipts from the gas station on the way up, her pockets are empty. Everything of value was left behind in her vehicle.

Can’t take it with you, after all.

She might laugh at the irony of the whole situation a little more if she wasn’t practically seeing double from the spikes of pain in her skull. The faintest shake of her head clears her vision enough to get by.

After a few moments of silence down the barrel of several guns, one of the SUVs from earlier comes around the front of the observation bridge offices and parks with its headlights bearing down on Kay. She can hear doors open and close, followed by the approach of a tall man in tactical gear smoking a cigarette.

“Well fuck, little bird’s all clipped wings.” Kay hears as her eyes adjust to the headlights and she gets a clearer look at the blonde man approaching her, gun in hand. “And here I thought Mr. Zarek was pulling my leg.”


The blonde man approaches Kay, offering a cybernetic hand down to her. “C’mon up, love.”

The light from the vehicle ahead blinds her temporarily and makes her briefly sick to her stomach, but it passes once she acclimates. Kay lifts her gaze to the silhouetted figure that slowly comes into focus. She doesn’t recognize the voice, and she doesn’t recognize the face, either. Clipped wings. Who in the fuck did they expect to find here? Batwoman?

Eyes flit from face to offered hand. Consideration lasts only in the space it takes to draw in a breath before she lets her hands drop from behind her head and reaches out to accept the help up. “What’s this all about, Mister…?” If he knows who she is, she may as well know his name.

“Nobody,” Lucas says as he helps Kay to her feet. “Just a hired hand, love. My associates here would love it if you could accompany them in that SUV.” He says gallantly. There’s something curious about his accent, European of some variety but something eastern or northern? It’s hard for Kay to place precisely but she knows she’s heard it before.

“You can talk to your buddy.” Lucas adds, pointing with his cybernetic hand between the two of them back to the SUV where what looks like Kain Zarek is approaching from around the front of the building with a scowl.

“Be a peach,” Lucas says, nose wrinkling. “I’d hate to have to return you to Miss Nakamura in anything less than one piece.”

Kay opens her mouth, draws in breath to say something, but that last remark makes the words die in the back of her throat. She shoves her hands into her coat as she turns a hard gaze on Kain. Or someone who knows enough about her — looks enough like him — to have pulled off this ruse.

Paranoid, ‘Ella had called her as she packed the girl’s bag to drag her metaphorically kicking and screaming upstate to her grandparents’. Nothing’s going to happen. Don’t be so superstitious. Once again, Mother knows best.

Tongue pressed to the tip of one canine, Kay’s mouth tugs into a rueful grin. “A’right,” she relents. “But for the record, y’all could’a just asked.” Her right hand lifts out of her pocket even as she starts walking to the vehicle, drawing a circle in the air with her index finger. “All’a this is ridiculous.

“Don’t complain to me Miss Damaris,” Lucas says as he escorts her to the SUV. “I don’t make the plans, I just execute them. No hard feelings.” As he walks Kay to the SUV, cybernetic hand clutching her arm, Kay catches a glimpse of a tattoo on the side of Lucas’ neck: a winged sword and six stars.

As Kay reaches the back of the SUV, she sees Kain waiting. He fires a look at Lucas like he’d brought a rabid dog to the door. “This weren’t part of the deal hotshot,” Kain barks at Lucas, who flicks his cigarette into a puddle and shoves Kay into the SUV unceremoniously.

“Boss’ orders.” Lucas says with a flash of a smile before shutting the door and vanishing behind the armor-plated night black tinted windows. A glass partition divides the front and back seat where a driver and passenger are already seated. The moment the doors shut, Kay hears a brief thump thump on the side, and the SUV starts to pull away.

Kain fixes a look at Kay that she’s seen a dozen times from him a lifetime ago. He looks older than she remembers, more gray in his beard and temples. His hair is short now, but the lines of his face are so gut-twistingly familiar. He’s looking at her like he did the night he murdered her husband; silent guilt.

There’s gratitude to be found in the warmth of the SUV’s cabin, but that’s if she wants to grasp for a silver lining. It should have been the man next to her, but it isn’t. There are so many questions swimming in her pounding head, it’s hard to pluck out just one. But it has to start somewhere.

“How could you do this?” Where this is a plural thing. “There were no fuckin’ messages, so don’t even try to play like you’ve got a shred of a chance at absolution here.” That had been a ploy too, she knows. Let her believe he’d tried. Let her think he’d come to find her and save her from whatever this is. It’s fucking devious is what it is, and it tells her he hasn’t lost his edge after all these years.

“Pretty clever ruse for a fuckin’ dead man.”

“This ain’t what it looks like. Ah’ tried.” Kain’s response is jumbled, his words fail to find purchase in any meaningful way. His expression is as if he were the one seeing a ghost, not her. Instead she sees him shut down, like he had so many times before. He turns away from her, one hand scrubbing over a stubbled mouth she knows every corner of. Blue eyes stare into the darkness of the window as the SUV pulls around and moves toward the open parking lot.

“They’re gonna kill you,” Kain says into the window, words brushing over his knuckles. He looks back to Kay with those same guilt-haunted eyes she knows too well. “Once they’re done with ya, they’re gonna kill ya. Ah’ know it. This ain’t mah first—”

The sound of a helicopter cuts Kain off. Through the glass partition and out the front window, Kay can see a tilt-rotor aircraft coming in for a landing on the observation deck. Its armored hull is peppered with old pockmarks from bullets. A faded logo in white is stenciled on the tail.

Praxis Heavy Industries.

“I know,” Kay responds easily. The merc only said he wanted to deliver her in one piece. He didn’t say he wanted her to be breathing. It’s a distinction she latched on to, because it’s a threat she would have made.

But it’s his guilt that sobers her. Everything about him is… him. There’s no way he’s some kind of fabrication. Some illusion. Some comforting lie meant to ensnare her.

Brown eyes track out the window to the sound of the chopper. She breathes out a mirthless little chuckle. “That’s pretty fuckin’ bold’a them, innit?” That’s when her blood goes cold as the sleet pelting the windows outside.

They aren’t just going to kill her.

Kay reaches out to catch Kain’s face in both of her hands, turning him toward her so she can press a desperate kiss to his mouth. One she doesn’t expect him to reciprocate, but one she needs to get out of her system. This might be her only chance.

“For the last ten years, I have missed you every single day of my goddamn life,” she tells him, her voice trembling as much as her hands. “You are my biggest regret, but knowing you’re alive…” Tears well up and spill over as she nods her head in short, rapid movements. “That will be enough. Don’t die again.

Ah’m not him,” Kain says in a whisper while searching Kay’s eyes for understanding. His kiss might as well be the lips of the dead fish for how motionlessly he returns it. The grief and horror in his expression has not abated one bit, and not in the presence of that aircraft coming in for a landing he isn’t sure if there’s ever enough apologies to give.

Kay smiles and it’s a strained thing. “I know.” Her hands are withdrawn, clutched together in her lap. “Isabelle tried to tell me, but I didn’t understand at the time. I do now.” The whole of her is trembling like a leaf in a storm now. “But I’m not gonna die well, so just let me have this one, okay?”

The SUV continues moving on course down to the observation deck and comes to a rolling stop. The passenger gets out of the SUV and moves over to Kay’s side of the vehicle, opening the door and pointing a handgun inside at her. “Out,” he barks, to which Kain flicks a look at the mercenary and then back to Kay.

She could disarm him, probably. Maybe even get the gun in her hand and put him down like a mad dog. But there’s more than just this one to deal with, and while it might be easier than whatever’s waiting for her, Kain might get caught in the crossfire.

“I’ll be okay,” she lies. Turning toward the gunman, she shakes her head. “Y’all don’t need that. I know I’m outnumbered, and I ain’t stupid or your employers wouldn’t want to get their hands on me so bad.” But even as she’s giving her assurances, she’s making her motions to exit the vehicle, movements deliberate so they’re recognized as the grasp for the handle over the door for leverage, the other wrapping around the frame as she climbs out.

“Lead the way.”

The merc takes Kay by the arm and leads her away from the SUV. Kain slides into the seat she was occupying and shouts back at him. “Hey!” It elicits the merc to turn around and looks back. “This is a package deal! Ah’ ain’t lettin’ her out’f mah sights until Ah’m paid!”

The merc looks over at Lucas, who has come around the front of the SUV. He waves off the subordinate, who continues to march Kay down the icy steps toward the idling aircraft, its rotors still spinning. Lucas steps around to the side of the SUV where Kain is seated and puts his cybernetic hand on the roof with a scrape of metal on metal, then leans in and looks at him.

Kay can hear an exchange of words as she’s being led away. Then she hears a gunshot and sees a muzzle flash inside the SUV.

Even as she’s being marched forward, Kay keeps her focus on the exchange happening behind her, almost twisted sideways to keep it more than just in her periphery. The scrape of metal has her breath catching in her chest.

This isn’t her first rodeo either.

And Kain’s not that stupid. But he is probably just about as suicidal as she is.

No!” Kay doesn’t even realize she’s started screaming. The voice doesn’t even sound like her own as it rings out and echoes back. She wrenches her arm from the grip on it at the same time as she delivers a vicious kick to the side of the merc’s knee, hoping to dislocate the goddamn thing because someone has to hurt just as much as she does right now.

She starts to scramble toward the SUV, already sobbing inconsolably. She can’t lose him again. She can’t.

The scream of the merc at her side as he collapses, the chop of the aircraft rotors, the hum of electric engines, the scrape of Lucas’ mechanical hand down off of the roof as he turns toward Kay. All the sounds are muted behind the rush of blood in her ears, her heart racing.

The last thing Kay sees is Lucas’ narrowed eyes as she’s approaching him. Then, briefly, the shadow of a rifle butt in her peripheral vision.



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