Last Will and Testament


chess5_icon.gif kaylee_icon.gif

Scene Title Last Will and Testament
Synopsis Chess has a favor to ask of Kaylee, and a farewell to give.
Date June 4, 2021

Bay Ridge

Chosen for being about as far from Phoenix Heights and the smoke and debris from the fires as possible, the Bay Ridge coffee shop is a quaint place with a view of the water to the west. Chess finds herself staring at the gray-blue waters where the Upper Bay meets the Gravesend Bay beneath it. The word choice of the second strikes Chess as ominous, and she looks down at the manila envelope beneath her hands, the name Luther scrawled in sharpie across it.

One hand unwinds from the other to reach for her coffee — her navy-blue nails are already chipped despite getting a manicure just a day ago, and it’s not even from being clumsy but from her worrying at them every time she doesn’t have something to busy her idle hands. Her mind is anything but idle, jumping from one terrible thought to another. She looks out the window again, to watch for Kaylee’s arrival.

The younger woman doesn’t have to wait long. The tall blonde steps through the door to the cafe and quickly pulls the respirator off with mild disgust. Fingers pull through long curls and brush at the specks of ash that have settled on the worn leather jacket while she scans the room.

“Chess,” Kaylee offers in greeting, having quickly spotted her. Setting the mask to one side, she studies the other woman. “It’s nice to see you.” The former telepath, herself looks worn and tired. Dark circles speak of restless sleep and the bright smile the older woman usually has, is worn at the edges.

“Hey,” Chess says with a small smile — Kaylee hasn’t seen many from her, really, as the couple of occasions they met didn’t call for much smiling. “Thanks for meeting with me. I’m sorry it’s pretty much taking your own life in your hands just to breathe this air. I just… I don’t know. There’s reasons I didn’t want to do it at Clocktower or Raytech.”

She lifts a shoulder, and glances down, gesturing for Kaylee to take a seat. One of the coffee shop servers approaches with the coffee pot, ready to pour in the cup already set out for Kaylee if she gives the nod. Chess waits until coffee is poured or anything else is asked for, before looking back up at Kaylee. She too bears the marks of insomnia, those dark smudges under her eyes.

“You doing okay?” she asks softly in a way that makes it clear she knows something is wrong with Kaylee, and that she may even know what that something is.

The arrival of coffee is a godsend judging by the way the woman looks at the server. “Keep this coming and I will be in your debt.” In other words, there will be a healthy tip if her cup isn’t allowed to run dry.

“I’m… surviving. There is a lot going on,” Kaylee says with a small smile, when she shifts her focus back to Chess. There is a bit of uncertainty how much she should tell, though. “My mom popped up and then found out I’m definitely not…” She trails off and sighs with a slump of her shoulders. “Let's just say I have a lot of soul searching to do about my place in this world.”

But then Kaylee waves that off and works to brighten that smile for Chess. Working on making up her first cup of coffee, she says brightly,“However, we are not hear for my pity party. You called for me. What can I do for you?”

Chess’ brows draw together, juxtaposed by a small smile offered in sympathy. “I’ve had my share of identity crisises… crises,” she says, correcting herself on the second attempt of the word. “I know it’s not the same, but I understand more than some, I think.”

She may not be an artificial being, but she’s still an engineered product from a lab.

“Right, we’re here for mine,” Chess says, her tone a little lighter, but the smile she offers doesn’t light her eyes. She pushes on, pushing forward with a no-nonsense businesslike manner after a deep breath. “So there’s no real easy way to say this, and there are things I can’t discuss, but I’m going away for a while. Indeterminately. I wanted to ask a favor.”

Her fingers curl around the manila envelope in her hands, fingers fiddling with the brass brad at the back.

Kaylee’s smile goes crooked, though there is worry in those blue eyes. “Anything you need, Chess.” There is a knowing way that Kaylee looks at Chess. The woman doesn’t even stop the soft chuckle that escapes before she sips her coffee.

“And don’t worry. I’ve heard about some of what’s going on.” Kaylee takes another sip, before offering a comforting smile and an explanation. ”Richard’s my brother and… well, our family… This isn’t our first rodeo… or even second, really. So he lets me know what I need to know.”

The news that Kaylee already knows is met with a soft, breathy laugh and a roll of Chess’ eyes. “Of course you know,” she says with a smile that says she’s a little relieved. “He told me it was okay to break the NDA, but, well.”

Chess lifts a shoulder. “I’m very aware that I could be in Rikers with my sister and I tend to toe the line a little more than your brother.” Her smile grows a little bigger. “I think your brother invents the line.”

Her fingers, however, continue to worry at the brass brad, and her brows draw together with a frown again. “I haven’t told Luther the reason. He knows I’m going away to do something important, but not what. I can’t-” she cuts off the sentence, looking down again and swallowing hard. “I mostly need to know someone’s looking out for him. I know you will, but I wanted you to know he’ll need it more now.”

When she looks up, her dark eyes swim with tears.

Seeing the tears, there is a softening in Kaylee’s eyes and all humor is brushed aside for worry. This whole thing wasn’t easy for anyone. “You should tell him, Chess. It should come from you and not me.” She says it, even though she also understands the why, he’d demand to go with her.

Richard didn’t need to worry about that from Kaylee. At least, not this time.

A sigh escapes her nose and Kaylee offers a look of understanding. “I’m always going to be there for him when he needs it and Carl, too. He likes Luther.” There is a hint of pride for her son, despite the subject. “But like I told my brother, don’t you start thinking y’all ain’t coming back. I don’t plan to just stand around on this side, especially if they don’t have a plan. We did it once before, we’ll find a way again.”

Chess’ smile returns, a little lopsided and hard to sustain, but she nods, reaching to grasp Kaylee’s hand for a moment, before, squeezing it lightly, before she pulls it back to curl her fingers around that envelope once more.

“I know you will,” she says softly. “And I’m sorry — for you, too. I know it’ll be hard to be on your side of it, waiting and worrying. It might even be worse, honestly, in some ways.”

She looks down at the envelope, then loosens her fingers. The rectangle’s a bit curled and bent from her hands, and she smooths it out. “I wrote him a letter,” she says, staring at it like she might be able to read through the tan exterior. “And there’s some things in it — keys to my apartment, some photos, a book.” Chess’ voice catches on the last word, and she presses her lips together for a moment, before looking up at Kaylee again.

“If we’re not back in a year,” she says, returning to that more brusk tone as she pushes the envelope toward Kaylee. “Please give this to him.”

Drawing the offered envelope towards hers, Kaylee gives a small nod. “I don’t know about harder. My sister-in-law will have a tougher time I think. She took a journey across worlds to get back to him and now he’s leaving her.”

Much like Chess had done, Kaylee’s fingers play along the edges of the envelope, fidgeting. “I admit, I feel better knowing you’ll be there to watch Richard’s back and he your’s.”

Setting aside the envelope, Kaylee cradles the coffee mug again, savoring the warmth, despite the heat of summer. “I know you’ll be missed though, not just by Luther. It’s been nice getting to know you and Carl thinks you’re cool. He asks after you and Castle all the time.”

An apologetic smile is offered, for a potential in on owner. “I don’t know what is going to happen here, but things are in motion and - full disclosure - when you get back, I might not remember you.” There is a sort of melancholy that falls over the older woman, a finger runs along the lip of her mug. “Or at least if all goes well and we free the real Kaylee. She’ll be the one here when you get back and she hasn't met you, yet.”

Chess takes up her coffee cup in her hands, always needing something in them to keep them busy, and she studies the cup as Kaylee talks, first with a smile, and then with a frown.

She reaches across the table to rest her hand on Kaylee’s arm, sympathetically. “I wish I could help you with that. I planned to, but…” But if no one goes to the root timeline, everyone is doomed, not only those friends in need of rescuing. “If it’s still an issue when we get back, you have my help, yeah? I’m pretty good at blasting through walls and doors.”

Her gaze drops, and Chess frowns again. “I’m really not sure how I’ll help in a flooded world, but the fact I’m willing is probably all the resume they need from me.” But she lifts a shoulder. “Carl’s an amazing kid. I doubt I’ll have kids myself, but if I did, I’d want him or her to be like him.”

There is a prickling of tears at the mention of Carl, but instead of gushing about her kid, Kaylee leans forward with a rather impish grin and offers a solution to Chess’ doubt, “You know… you could probably pull off a wicked depth charge in a flooded world like that.”

The smile gentles a little as she reaches across the table to offer up encouragement in the form of a hand squeeze of her own, “Seriously, don’t sell yourself short, Chess.” Her voice is quiet and thoughtful, “A lot of times, there is a reason behind a choice when it comes to the end of the world. With my brother involved, chances are there is a list somewhere with your name on it. Which means you do have something to give the mission.”

Kaylee straightens and gives a small huff of amusement, “Besides… I can’t be there,” she looks down at her hands and flexes her fingers as if there was something under the surface. “But, I can rest easier knowing you and Eve are there to help Richard and watch his back.”

Chess’ eyes widen at the suggestion of a depth charge, and she shakes her head with an impressed laugh. “I would have never thought of that, actually,” she says. “I’ll have to test it out.”

But she quiets again, glancing back down at her coffee, before looking up with a raised brow. “A list with my name on it? I don’t know. I think it’s just that I’m willing and that most of the people who would normally try to save the world have their own issues going on right now… You, Asi, Gillian. God, Jac would if she could, I know.” She shakes her head at the bravery of the teenager.

“I’m a little worried about the group. I’m not sure how much we all trust one another, and it’s a lot of strong personalities, like stuffing the entire Brady Bunch in one station wagon for a trip to the Grand Canyon.” She looks weary just thinking about it. “Any advice?” she asks, with a smirk. “I’m not great with people in general.”

“Whereas I am a people person,” Kaylee says, her tone filled with sympathy for the other woman’s situation. “Best advice I can think of is… keep your focus on the goal. All the egos and strong personalities in the world means nothing if y'all can’t save the world.”

A heavy sigh escapes her. “Just hope they all can figure it out before it gets real,” Kaylee takes a long drink of her coffee and shakes her head. “Richard does know his stuff, but I also know Eve isn’t stupid. Under all that crazy is a shrewd and amazing mind. They are two sides of a coin.”

Kaylee’s expression is thoughtful as she tops off her mug. “It will be a chore, but if those two can get past their… history… they’d make a great team.”

There’s a wry smile at the descriptions of both, and Chess looks out the window, finally lifting her coffee for a sip. “I don’t understand any of it, for the record. I mean, I get the brushstrokes, but my eyes glaze over when they get into a lot of the science talk. I’m obviously the tank,” she says with a laugh, remembering a term from the old days, when the Miles of her past used to play video games.

Tired eyes return to Kaylee’s face. “I’m sorry we’re leaving before we figure out what’s happened to you and how to fix it. I really want to blow something up on your behalf before I go,” she says, a smile tipping up one corner of her mouth, but slipping, as if she’s too weary to hold it long. “If there’s anything I can do before I go — I don’t know what, but… anything. Let me know.”

“Don’t worry, the tech stuff is kind of over my head once we get into math and science terminology,” Kaylee rolls her eyes at it all, just thinking about it. “I know there are other worlds, I’ve seen them and I’ve done my share of time travel too… spent five years in the past, but I don’t get the science of any of it. The mythos that Eve understands kinda goes over my head too.”

Teeth flash white with a self-deprecating smile, Kaylee says, “I’m more… business savvy, if anything, and that’s useless. So take that away, I’m a tank, too. But yeah…” Shifting a hand away from her mug, she moves to grip Chess’ hand again, and Kaylee gives a little nod of her head. “If I need some back up - especially, if I need something blown up - before you go, I’ll be sure to call. Promise. Thank you.

Kaylee grimaces and reluctantly admits, “Right now, I’m.. well, all of us are just… hitting a brick wall. I’ve learned so much, but it feels like I’m still missing the piece that makes the rest fall into place.”

“I was kinda interested in it when I was younger, but I went to war instead of college, so,” Chess lifts a shoulder. “I know I can go back, and I may, but the last couple of years made that a little tricky. If I do go back, I’m not even sure what I would want to do.”

The younger woman squeezes Kaylee’s hand in gratitude, and to offer the other woman something — consolation, sympathy, strength. “Definitely understand that brick wall thing. Wish I could blow it up for you.”

That small, crooked smile returns, and she shakes her head. “Metaphors, man. They’re so uncooperative.”

Kaylee can’t help but laugh. “Girl, if you ever figure out what you want to do, you will be a step ahead of me. Though I do miss my job with SCOUT sometimes.”

There is a small upward shift of Kaylee’s shoulders, her expression wistful. “I’ll go back, eventually, but… I don’t know if it is the right place for me. Too restrictive when I need to get things done, especially all the shit I keep getting into.”

Tucking a hand under her chin, Kaylee chuckles softly, “Though, let's be honest, normal is boring. Been there done that… though I did get Carl from it. So it’s not all bad.”

Kaylee’s laughter draws a soft laugh from Chess, but it fades again and in its place, her expression turns pensive.

“I can’t even remember normal, to be honest, and most of that was a lie,” she says quietly. “It’s really hard to imagine what normal means. I’ve been trying — after Detroit — but everything got insane again. I don’t think it exists for some of us.And that’s all right. I’m willing to not live a normal life if it means others can.”

She shakes her head and rolls her eyes at herself. “Sorry, I keep having these pity parties for myself. Maybe when you’re, you know, better,” that also gets a wince, “something else like… charitable work or something? You’re good at the Raytech stuff, but it doesn’t seem like it’s your passion as much as helping people. Not that Raytech doesn’t… shit. I’m going to stop talking now.”

The coffee mug lifted, Chess takes a long drink to keep from digging a bigger hole for herself.

It’s obvious by the amusement and grin on Kaylee’s face, there is no offense over Chess’ assessment.

“Helping people… that is something I enjoy, always have,” Kaylee admits with a little nod. “It’s part of the reason I joined the PD. Raytech was started on the premise too, helping people,” Mainly because this world was the work of her father’s meddling, but that Kaylee keeps to herself. “But… running the business side just… doesn’t have the same appeal and feel. I felt like something was missing so that’s the whole reason I jumped at the chance for SCOUT.”

With a little humoured huff, Kaylee admits, “And now that feels too restrictive.”

Then her smile fades a little at a sudden thought, “I am hoping, though, that Carl can have a normal life… not sure it’s possible being a part of this family. Not many know, but there was a time before the war, that some of the Ferrymen’s kids came back from the future to save us.” Kaylee’s brows furrow as emotions that had dulled over time. “They warned us of what the government was planning and it allowed us to… limit the damage, but also finally win our freedom to be who we are.”

Kaylee glances up at Chess, uncertain, “I count each day that there isn’t a repeat of that event as a good thing. Though I guess now the reason is because it all ends in a fiery apocalypse.” Her lip trembles a bit, forcing her to bite it.

“Lene told me,” Chess says quietly. “We talked about living crisis to crisis, and I wondered then what it’d be like not to.” She huffs a short, breathy laugh and shakes her head. “Today is not that day, I’m afraid.”

When Kaylee’s emotions threaten to overtake her, Chess tightens her grip on the other woman’s hand, and just sits for a moment. The silence stretches and she finally speaks to break it.

“It doesn’t if we can help it. And we’re both going to work on stopping it. Your brother, me, the others — we wouldn’t be going there if there was no chance, yeah? They wouldn’t be so cruel to send us on a goose chase if they didn’t think there was hope. Not when we could use that time to be with the ones we love.” Her tone is soft but sure, hopeful even. “I wouldn’t go if I didn’t believe it was possible.”

“I know….” Kaylee says painfully, squeezing the other woman’s hand. Fingers wipe at the moisture at the corners of her eyes. “And I know I'm being silly about this. It’s… just so much different now that I have Carl whose future depends on us stopping one of the worst events… ever. Everything we’ve worked to stop was never a world ending event. Not like this.”

After a moment, Kaylee adds, “Though the virus comes pretty close.” The only reason she knows about that is the scattered memories from other versions of herself and stories of how it was stopped there.

Taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly, Kaylee offers the other woman a weak smile. “I have faith in y’all,” she says softly, “If anything, as cheesy as it will sound, Luther and I…. well, and Carl… have faith in you. Just make sure you come back.”

The tears in Kaylee’s eyes evoke the same in Chess, and she sits for a moment, smiling at the compliment and reassurance, of the faith placed in her. It’s meant to encourage, and it does, but it also weighs. It’s a burden Chess has chosen to carry, but it’s a heavy one, and if she fails, it isn’t only people’s faith that will be destroyed.

A tear slides down her cheek, dropping onto the table. She swallows, and her hand tightens on Kaylee’s before letting go.

“That’s the plan,” she manages to say with a weak smile.

But plans are fallible, as humans are.

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