In The Balance



Scene Title In the Balance
Synopsis Hours after the traumatic experience of seeing a vision of the ambush, Luther retreats to his apartment. But another vision sends him spiraling as the fate of Kaylee's life still hangs in the balance.
Date December 10, 2018

RayTech Housing, Luther’s Apartment

Hours have passed since the visions of a wasteland world swept Luther into a hurricane of emotional trauma. In that time, he’d retreated to the temporary sanctuary of his apartment on the campus housing. He didn’t dare try to drive back to Phoenix Heights. Not when the visions were this strong. Not when what he saw, what he was involuntarily immersed in, dragged down into, was so terrible.

Luther had run himself dry on tears. Now he was seeking to replace them with alcohol. The bottle’s already half gone. He hasn’t managed to drown the guilt.

The screen on his phone lights with a message, Lou’s text checking in. He doesn’t answer. A second message insists. He only picks up the glass full of a clear brown liquid, and tilts it back to empty it. Luther slouches back against the couch, blurred vision sweeping across the plain ceiling. An image, a memory of the deserted building’s dusty ceiling tiles fades in and out of his mind. The screams of a dying soldier, wailing as the air and flesh burns around him, echoes in his senses. Luther shuts his eyes tightly, sucking in a shuddering breath.

And for a moment, the burning feeling of tired lungs is not his own.

Somewhere in New Jersey

“You’re sure this is the way to the exfil? I don’t think Eve was too clear with her symbolism, you know what I mean?”


Originally aiming to work the tip of his knife under a dirty fingernail, Diaz takes another bounce of the touchy suspension on the van, and swears out an Ay, chingados! before abandoning the effort. He sheathes the knife before he winds up cutting off the tip of the finger instead. “Christ, it’s like you’re purposefully driving into every pothole on this damn road, or what?”

The man’s complaints stop as he spots a figure up ahead in the distance. The haze of the winter afternoon makes it a little harder to see, but Diaz takes his precautions. He’s already unbuckling his seatbelt, extracting a gun on his shoulder holster.

Down the road…

vf_kaylee_icon3.gif wf_luther_icon.gif

Elbows locked, Luther tightens his grip on limp limbs as he plods, one foot after the other. Though he tries to save his breath for the task of carrying the unconscious, wounded woman over his shoulders, he musters up enough air to talk to her. “We’re almost there. Hang on a little longer, Kaylee. Don’t quit. Don’t you quit on me.” Each sentence comes out stilted, heavy with exhaustion, but spoken with stubborn insistence. Quiet desperation.

He can feel the slick, sticky patch of her blood against his neck. It spurs him on.

Luther turns his whole body at the sound of a vehicle’s approach, and ducks towards the overgrown bush of the broken roadside. A low swear escapes him as he lays the telepath down as gently as he can. Large, dark coat shrugs off his shoulders and he lays it over her. Then, he stands and picks up his rifle to take with. Like a hitchhiker, Luther waits off to the side, watching as the van approaches.


“Life is a highway…” croons the Resistance supply runner, Thomas Cooper, in song. With the dome down, radio was kinda flaky so anyone with him was forced to listen to his singing. The question from Diaz is purposely ignored, of course, cause he might have done that on purpose.

There is no lie if you just don’t say anything…Right?

“Never doubt the symbolism of Eve, Mi Chacho.” The last syllable is drawn out and a goofy grin flung at the other man. “She ain’t steered me wrong yet.” A moment later, much like Diaz, Cooper spots the figure on the road and tenses up. Lucky for the two of them, they were just plain human. Or unluckily, if it was a roaming band of evos. Still, it wasn't worth taking the chance…

It doesn't take long for Cooper to recognize that hulking shape, even without his signature brooding coat. “Holy shit! She was right,” he whispers out and smacks Diaz on the arm. “She was right!” He repeats brightly.

Leaning out of the window, Cooper crows “Luther! You unkillable son-of-a-bitch!” He didn't have a lot of people he considers ‘friends,’ or as close as it gets out here, so he had worried. Really, he did. He just wouldn't admit it out loud.

The Magic Mobile comes to a sudden stop, with a spray of gravel, and Cooper is practically leaping out with a big grin.“Dude! When you didn't show up at the rendezvous point we started to worry they finally got you. But Eve-” It takes a moment and the sight of blood, but the former police officer finally realizes that… “Hey, uh… where’s Kaylee?” Since shortly after the telepath had arrived in this world, the pair had been practically attached at the hip. So seeing him without his much prettier shadow, was jarring.

His answer comes in the form of a soft sound from the overgrowth.

A small handgun might not do much for most, but Diaz feels pretty confident to have a bead on the man by the roadside even in the bouncing van. Not until Cooper recognizes the would-be hitchhiker does he flick the safety on the pistol and eventually returns it to the holster. While Cooper hops out and enthusiastically greets the other man, Diaz checks their surroundings out of habit. “Tone it down man, there could still be squads out,” chides the other former police officer as he finally brings his gaze back to the pair. Diaz narrows his eyes at the way Luther looks, taking in the situation as a whole.

The quiet sound might have been missed in the volume of greetings, but not so with Luther, who completely ignores Cooper’s enthusiasm as soon as Kaylee makes any noise. Luther whirls back towards the overgrown, bushy ditch and hurries back to the telepath. “She’s been shot,” he manages to croak out of a dry throat, one tightened further by concern. The normally hardened, stony grey eyes turn back to the two men, a silent plea for help in them.

Diaz slips down into the ditch, first responder’s training kicking up as he takes in the telepath’s state. “Pulse is weak. She’s lost a lot of blood,” comes his first assessment. Glancing up to Cooper, he calls back, “You got any first aid in the back?”

Moving to follow, Thomas pauses at the top of the ditch in shock. “Oh shit,” he whispers upon seeing the telepath laying at the bottom of it. Her pale face has his stomach twisting into a knot and looking to the big man. To even see the unshakable Luther like that… Cooper feels a growing sense of worry. He still remembers the stories about when they found Luther and brought him into the fold. He wasn't sure that this guy could handle another loss like that. Especially, since she gave it all up for him…. Possibly even her life.

Diaz manages to shake Cooper out of his thoughts and he gives a firm nod of his head, “Yeah, I got supplies. Lucky you, Eve said I’d need them.” Now he knew why. The runner found himself filled with a new sense of determination, though he works to squash the flutter of hope. “Put her in the bed in the back,” he calls back do and with a quick about face, Cooper runs back for the Magic Mobile. First opening the back doors to the bed, piled with sleeping bags and pillows; before he then swinging around to the side. Throwing that door open, he scrambles in and starts digging in the cabinets and hidden spots. “Come on. Come on where did I put that….Ha!” He finally finds the duffle stuffed in one of the secret compartment under the shag carpet. Spotting a bottle of rum next to it, he grabs that too, as an afterthought really.

No one can ever say that Cooper wasn't prepared.

Though he’s standing aside to let Diaz make his rough assessment of Kaylee’s condition, Luther isn’t able to stand still. Like a caged lion he paces back and forth, his exhaustion of having carried the telepath all this way beaten back by unbridled anger poorly masking his worry. “We were ambushed,” he explains gruffly, “one of the kill squads left over from the Dome probably, followed our tracks or something. She heard them coming, and we countered, but.”

But. The man’s eyes drift down to the dark red patch on Kaylee’s clothing, and he clenches his jaw, breath escaping between gritted teeth.

“She took a bullet, but looks like it must have missed all the important stuff, or she’d be gone by now,” Diaz concludes, glancing over to Cooper and nodding to the other runner’s suggestion. “I’m no doctor. But she’s going to need one. Come on, man, stop griping and help me get her up to the van.”

Luther shoots a glare at Diaz, a growl rolling from his throat. But he strides back over and upon following directions reaches down to grasp Kaylee’s lower half around her legs. He starts to lift, but the strange feeling that overcomes his senses drowns out the rest of the other man’s directions. His breath sucks in, catching as his gaze sweeps up to the Magic Mobile waiting just up on the roadside, the stare hardening even as it fades away to a different view.

Grey eyes snap open. Luther blinks as he doesn’t see a van in his sight line, but the boring beige ceiling of his apartment. “Fuck, she’s…” he breathes out, and for a flash of a moment he can’t stop the elation accompanying the epiphany. The vision strikes him with the hope that Kaylee - this alternate Kaylee - has somehow survived. But doubt begins to creep in again.

Or, was it a dream? Was his mind so cruel as to create a false hope, that even now he would dream of this other world’s version of himself having somehow saved the woman he loved from death?

The woman he loved…

Luther sits up, burying his face in his hands before dragging his fingers up to grip his head. “Please,” he begs to the air in a desperate whisper. But he’s not even sure what he’s begging for. For the visions to stop? For the visions to be real, and that Kaylee lives? When his eyes shut again, the deep throb of an ache in his chest remains, a churning in his guts sickens.

“Bellamy? Luther!” Diaz practically shouts the man’s name at him. He nearly reaches over to smack the other man. If it weren’t for him holding on to Kaylee’s upper half, he might have.

A sickening feeling throws Luther’s composure askew, and the man releases Kaylee’s prone form to stumble off to one side. Whatever contents remain in his stomach are lost to the bushes nearby.

Diaz throws a look at Cooper, dark eyes truly questioning. But, reminded that there’s no time to waste, he sharply swears at Luther, “Get the fuck back over here and get her legs up, will you?!”

Luther roughly wipes his mouth, taking a moment to spit out the taste of bile and an odd, fading feeling of drunkeness that threatens to destabilize him further. The man shoots an irritable glance back at Diaz, but the look travels down to Kaylee in the man’s arms and he’s pushed back on track. Lifting the woman’s legs and supporting her weight, he helps get the telepath into the van bed and then climbs in the back.

Cooper stands near the van looking rather shaken by Luther’s actions. In Thomas’ mind, this man was supposed to be a force… he sure wasn’t one now. Feeling helpless, Cooper can only return Diaz’s look and take a breath to calm his nerves.

Once Luther starts to crawl in, Cooper drops the duffle on the ground at his and Diaz’s feet. He pushes Luther further in and to the other side of the unconscious telepath, with orders to.. “Get your big ass out of the way,” he chides the man, but it isn't meant to be an insult. The former NYPD detective was in cop mode and he understood what was on the line. That kind of pressure would stress anyone out. In this world, people like him and Diaz get a lot of practice at their first aid, more often than not, it means lives fall on their shoulders. “We can't fix her, but we’ll try to get her stable, but not with you in the way.”

Crouching down he retrieved gloves some for him and some for his partner. “Did it go through?,” he asks as he tugs them on, looking at the frightfully pale face. “Not sure she’d survive us digging anything out, if not.” What greets him when he pushes up the shirt, sticky and caked with blood… he grimaces and has to look away. Cooper, for a moment, is uncertain they can do this. Still, he continues… for Luther. So carefully, fingers tug at the rough bandaging. The action causes Kaylee to weakly moan and try to shift away from the fresh wave of pain. “Hold her down,” he snaps at whoever will listen. The movement is weak at the moment, but doesn't mean she might not suddenly wake up thrashing.

“I can tell you’ve been paying attention to lessons,” Cooper breaths out in relief as he manages to get the wound uncovered. “I am pretty sure you gave her the best chance by stuffing the wound.” A small offer of hope, even if Cooper isn’t feeling it.

Looking at Diaz, Thomas straightens from his examination. “If we repack the wound and get her on an IV, she might make it to the medics.” It was still a long drive ahead, even if his floors it. So reluctantly, Cooper looks at Luther and reaches to grip the man's arm, “But you’ve got to prepare yourself, big guy. She’s lost way too much blood and we aren’t doctors.” Death was still very much on the table. “And I don’t know what supplies the medics still have back at the new base.”

In Luther's ready cooperation there is a truth of the man's desperation. Finding himself a corner behind the driver's seat, stuffing himself to give them what room the duo can find to work in, he rivets his gaze to the unconscious woman's face. Luther goes quiet, breathing shallow, not daring to interrupt even as Cooper continues on.

Quick, quiet breaths suck in and out of Luther as he blinks. Where he's staring at a blank wall, every moment when his eyes shut calls back an afterimage of the blonde telepath's face. It mixes with a different blonde woman's pained expression. A fresh wave of guilt intermingles with the two. Only one of them is truly gone, though, and the other hanging on by a thread.

If he could only send his thoughts through the universe.

Diaz pulls on the gloves and moves to hold Kaylee down while Cooper examines the wound. A glance to Luther doesn't bolster the man's confidence. But he too, has to hope. "You got an IV in here?" he questions, skeptical and disbelieving. Just how many hidey-holes did this van have?

When Cooper grasps Luther's arm and tells him to prepare for the worst, Luther turns his stare on the other man. As much as they may be unspoken friends, Luther stares at the other man with a flash of that grief-fueled anger. His temper gets the better of him. Suddenly, he lunges up on the other man to pin him to the wall of the van.

"Hey whoa! The fuck?!" Diaz has to climb around Kaylee's prone form to grab at Luther from behind, pulling him back. "Let him go! No seas tan comemierda, pinche cabrón! He's the best chance your woman's got to live!" Diaz shoots a look back to Cooper and grits out, "Get the IV bag. I'll take care of the rest." Including Luther.

It wouldn’t be the first time nor the last time that Thomas was thrown against a wall for speaking the truth. Grief is a bitch and makes people do stupid things. He takes it like a champ, with only a ‘oof’ as the breath is knocked out of him. When his back connects to van wall, a couple of hidden compartments pop open around him, spilling out content, such as boxes of ammo.

But, Cooper doesn't fight the big guy, nor does he look away from those angry stormy eyes. There is something in his own pale eyes. A knowing. “It's alright, Diaz,” is offered calmly. Cooper's gaze finally cuts away to the other runner. “I did this too when someone told me my daughter might not make it.” Though it sounds like he is talking to Diaz, he’s not. The words are directed at Luther, his tone quiet and strained. The normally goofy man, understands that pain… he lives with it daily.

His voice continues just as quiet, “Sit your ass down, Luther, so we can try and maybe stop it from happening to you, too.” That said, Cooper turns and moves down the shaggy panels near the back, just before the bed. Hitting one with the side of his hand to open it, he extracts an IV bag. This is held out for someone to take while he pulls out a few other items.

Dropping those packages of tubes and needles next to Kaylee, Cooper then grabs the bottle of rum and sets it in front of Luther. “You’ll need this.” Though he might have taken a swig first, to calm his own nerves.

The fact that Cooper doesn’t fight him, not physically, leaves Luther without further fuel for the fire. He growls, but the low sound has no bite behind it. Their eyes are locked, then Luther’s gaze shifts to a downward slant, a point more on Cooper’s chin before he releases the man with a drop of his grip on Thomas’ shirt.

Diaz eases off as well, releasing the big man and leaning around him to grab the IV bag as Luther folds into a corner again. The former cop moves to Kaylee’s side, rechecking vitals and finding a spot to work. Though, he does check a glance over to Luther, watching in case something else sets the man off. He only has heard the rumors about the Beast of the Resistance, seen the results of the abilities of the Evolved. “She’s cold,” reports Diaz gravely after a pause, “but she’s got a pulse. We have to work fast.”

At the report, Luther straightens in alarm and worry, taking one look at the rum bottle, picking it up, then dismissing it. It’s a true sign he’s anxious when the man refuses the drink. The note that she’s cold sees Luther moving over to help this time by taking hold of the unconscious telepath’s face while Diaz administers first aid and looks for a spot to insert the IV solution. But the bigger man stares down at Kaylee, grey eyes stuck on her face in his hands. Somewhere in the back of his mind is the fear, but right now his expression a severely creased brow and laser-focus. If he could project his thoughts… Stay with me.

To Cooper, Luther’s growl comes as a tight command. “Drive!”

“Dude, you don’t have to tell me twice,” Cooper comments casting a worried look to the telepath and Luther. It was a little surreal still, but there was no time to really give it any amount of thought. Turning he jumps out of the van, slamming doors shut as he hurries around the van to the driver's seat. One last slam with that one and in short order, they will find themselves on the road…

Though Cooper is careful not to jostle the trio in the back of the Magic Mobile… Diaz might notice even a severe decrease in pot hole discoveries.

If the telepath hears his thoughts, there is no indication. No familiar pressure and no shifting of her pale features. Only the weak lifting and dropping of her chest as she continues to breathe. A good sign, at least.

Time is going to drag on for them… Each moment feels like a lifetime, when a life hangs in the balance.

With hope they can save a life today.

Every minute passing by sees Diaz checking on Kaylee’s pulse and calling out the rate to Cooper, monitoring her breathing. They don’t have the equipment otherwise, and having to rely on manual methods and training is all they’ve got now. At some point, he has Luther applying pressure to the wound, to which the other man does so. Unhappily. The sickly pale complexion of her face presses into the man’s gut with a thick, slow churning. He wants to be sick. There’s nothing left in him, though, having retched what was left up earlier.

Not so, though, for when Luther’s consciousness slides back into his present self, sunken into his beat up couch. The phone by his side blinks a steady, occasional LED to denote the unread messages. Luther reaches for the phone, checking them but still not replying. Lou would have to wait. Grey eyes steel up as he tries calming his nerves. A silent prayer to what powers may be wraps up his thoughts, but it follows with a sudden anger. Why? The ever present question the man holds for all the visions he’s experienced snaps clear and hot through him like an electric zap from a cattleprod. What was causing these visions? Or who? And to what cruel purpose? But, especially now, with this window to a life on the line, one in which he can do nothing about.

Not just any life. Kaylee’s life.

He pushes up to his feet, a drunken lean obstructing his control for a few moments. When he’s sure he’s not about to fall over - although how sure could he be at this point - Luther drags himself deeper into the apartment, a retreat into the hallway and bedroom at the end of it. He pauses at the doorway, caught between staring into the dark of the unlit bedroom and a look back towards the dim yellow light of the kitchen. The light darkens at the edges, his vision swimming with the occasional jerk of his head. Luther’s fists ball up as he fights the encroaching slip yet again, but to no avail.

“I don’t know what’s going on with him. Could be shock,” Diaz hastily whispers at Cooper from the back of the van, eyeing Luther in what he deems is a man who’s in traumatic shock. “But look, we’re here.” The man’s relieved tone is only just, because there’s a woman in need of immediate medical attention. As soon as they arrive at the M*A*S*H unit in the camp, he just about busts the back doors open with a shout for a stretcher.

Luther follows along, but there’s a daze to the man’s normally focused, stern stare. Without much purpose, no target to consider, the man is directed instead to another medic tent for examination. Unsuccessfully. Poor Jennifer, who tries to get Luther away from the retreating stretcher bearing Kaylee suddenly feels Luther’s hand clamp on her arm and that angry stare boring into her. She lets him go, with a short gulp, but given her current assignment she follows after the billowing coat tails to make sure he’s not about to collapse too. Just, at a distance.

It is a flurry of activity as Kaylee is moved from the Magic Mobile and onto a stretcher. Cooper firing off what they know about the woman’s condition… then it is in their hands.

“You’d be in shock too if you were losing someone you loved,” Cooper finally comments blandly watching them wheel the woman away. “She’s not gonna make it,” he says softly to Diaz, his voice a touch emotional. “Come on…” he leans in and grabs to bottle from where it was left, “I need a drink,” and moves to get back into the driver’s seat, “and then we need to report to Eve, so she can get over here.” She wasn’t going to like hearing that. “He’s gonna need her.”

Inside, the initial evaluation by the head medic, a former med student before the world went to hell, gets a grim look. There is a nervous glance sent Luther’s way, before he barks a few orders. Only after everyone is sent off does he approach the distraught man. “I don’t know how she’s even still alive, the bullet is probably lodged in her pelvic bone. I’ll have to dig it out and I’m not sure she— ” the medic trails off looking at Kaylee. All of it is said reluctantly and at a distance. For the medic’s safety, of course.

“I’m going to do my best, but this… this will take a serious act of God,” the medic gives him an apologetic and sympathetic look, before turning back to what he considers a lost cause.

Diaz, feeling his hardened expression scrunch, covers it with a wipe of the back of his hand against his forehead. There’s nothing he can say that will help the situation, but he shakes his head at Cooper. The gesture, either acknowledging the harsh reality of the dire situation, or to counter the man’s fatalism, is unclear. As the pair of men depart back to the van, Diaz casts a glance back to the medical tent. A lingering gaze, a silent prayer sent.

Luther continues to stare from his position at the corner the table where Kaylee’s been laid out, watching as the medics scurry when doctor’s orders are received. Storm grey eyes don’t leave the sight of the paled woman. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he notes the way her hair’s come out of the braid she normally keeps it in when they’re out, the strands hanging limply off the table’s edge.

“…will take a serious act of God” sends his focus back to head medic, and for a split second Luther’s glare flashes with a dangerous twitch, an urge for release of violent energies in the face of the apologetic look. “God has nothin’ to do with this. You. Fucking. Save her,” he snarls aloud, fists balling at his sides and shoulders tensing.

The medic, already much shorter than Luther, does his best not to wilt under the impending strike… that doesn’t come. But the stare down from the larger man is no less dooming.

Once the medic turns back to start directing the nearby assistants and nurses in pre-op measures does Luther step back to give them room. His eyes follow the action, but he barely starts to notice the fading of lamplights as the vision draws a darkening circle around his consciousness once more.

Head swimming in a drunken pain, Luther sucks in a breath as he blinks up at the night enveloped ceiling in his bedroom. He’s been blackout drunk before, that’s not new. But for the visions to turn a blind eye to torturous emotions, to freshen the trauma of losing someone, and drive him to this… The man grits his teeth, head shaking to focus, pushing himself up from where he’d slumped on the floor. A dull ache throbs along his bruised arm where he’d hit the ground, barely comparable to the ache in his chest and emotionally wrenched gut. The sound that trickles out is half a sob, half a whimper, brimming with guilty regrets.

He crawls, then hauls himself up on to the bed to sit on its edge. Though he thought he’d run out of tears, Luther catches his breath and a single drop escapes, sliding down slowly as he whispers plaintively into the dark.

“I’m sorry.”

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