Lean On Me


elisabeth_icon.gif kaylee6_icon.gif

Scene Title Lean On Me
Synopsis Liz shows up with ice cream and a message for her sister-in-law.
Date September 15, 2020

Kaylee's Apartment - Raytech Campus

Kaylee's condition has been an ongoing source of concern, and once she's home again, Elisabeth keeps making the point of stopping in. This whole on-leave from SCOUT is a necessity not because her sister-in-law has no powers but because of the vicious physical and emotional reaction the former telepath is suffering. And she feels like there's very little she can do to help, honestly. Except just… be here.

Tonight, she's brought something with her. Something she hasn't even shared with Richard yet. But first things first. As Kaylee lets her in, she smiles just a bit and holds up a bag. "Best ice cream in Pennsylvania," she coaxes. "C'mon, I'll share so you're not eating your feelings all alone?" The quip might fall flat, but Liz does try to keep Kaylee's spirits up.

There is a ragged look to the former telepath with her hair is a bit wild (but washed), her clothing worn and bit wrinkled, and the dark circles around her makeupless eyes. Still Kaylee manages an affectionate smile for her sister-in-law motioning her into the still newish feeling apartment at the new Raytech apartments.

“I’m never alone long,” Kaylee assures as she closes the door behind her, “Between, you all, Luther, Aman and Carl… I swear y’all must coordinate your efforts.”

While the apartments had been designed to be open and full of greenery, the former telepath has still blocked off parts of it with long curtains on rods. It softened the edges of the industrial feel of the concrete. “And as always, you know my weakness.” Ice cream. Kaylee jerks her head deeper in. “Table or balcony? I’ve got cookies I can share in trade. Pretty sure my nieces and nephew would appreciate that.”

"Balcony," Elisabeth decides easily. "It's cool but not too bad out there. Ice cream won't melt away but not too cold to eat it either." Not that the temperature stops them from eating ice cream. That would be inconceivable.

Shrugging her shoulders beneath the hooded sweatshirt she's wearing, the audiokinetic makes herself comfortable in Kaylee's apartment. "And of course we're not." Not exactly. They're just keeping tabs on who can be close by when without really saying anything about it to one another. "Cookies and ice cream makes for the best snacks."

Her blue eyes take in Kaylee's exhaustion, but it's not until they've gathered up spoons and cookies and coffee to take out there on that balcony that Liz really settles in with a sigh. "So," she begins easily. "Tell me what new and fun things Carl has been doing this week."

Stepping out of the tall glass slider after her sister-in-law, Kaylee takes a deep breath of the fresh air. “I think this is my favorite part of the new apartments.” Even though they could hear the city beyond, it was obscured by the tall walls and looming plants, to include a small fruit tree with branches curling out over the patio. “Carl’s, too.” The gravely meow of Willy’s voice almost seems to say ‘Me too’ as he trots out and up into the planter to roll around in the moist dirt.

Settling down in one of the chairs opposite of her sister, Kaylee sighs wearily. “He’s okay. It’s starting to really sink in for him that I don’t have my ability anymore,” there is a small smile forming at the corner of her mouth. “He doesn’t know he is, he has tells when he’s lying.” Of course, the young kid would try to push the boundaries.

Kaylee’s amusement fades as she picks up her cup of coffee. She doesn’t take a sip yet, just holds it between her cold fingers. “Just wish I got to see him more, but unless someone else is here… like Luther… It’s best he’s not around me.” The fear of a repeat of her kidnapping was real.

Elisabeth is well aware of Kaylee's fear. The way that they were all taken has had the security teams here in Raytech in absolute fits. But that's neither here nor there right this minute. Putting the pints of Amish-made ice cream onto the table between them, she then leans back in her chair, just looking out over the view. "I miss you at work," she says softly. For a whole slew of reasons, of course.

"Carl's been telling Aura about your ability not working anymore," she admits, setting the chair to bouncing just slightly. Her smile is faint. "You should have heard the lecture she gave him." Biting her lip, she says softly, "I didn't realize she was so attuned to how things were for me when I was negated. But she told him that one time when I didn't have my ability — I didn't even realize she understood that's what was happening," when Trask negated them all in Flood, "— that she'd done something a little bit naughty and that I hadn't even known because my ability was gone. And then she felt really bad about it after, and she told him that he would feel really bad about it too."

From the mouths of babes.

"He was so funny, sticking out his chin and telling her he was gonna try it anyway. I heard her give this sigh that she and Lili only give Carl and Ricky. Friggin' hysterical. It's the 'Okay, go do what you want, but you'll regret it' sound," Elisabeth laughs.

“Well, he is a boy… and he’ll grow into a man,” Kaylee comments after a sip of her coffee and picking up a spoon. It really was her biggest weakness. “They’re stubborn and have to learn the hard way.” Leaning forward she manages a decent spoonful, the smile falls away completely for a look of concern. “You know, he won’t take Bubba home?” Carl’s favorite stuffed dragon “He says he’s on an important mission.” There is a threat of tears, but she blinks them away.

“I think he believes Bubba can protect me from disappearing again,” Kaylee says a touch miserable, poking at the ice cream.

“You know,” Kaylee says after a moment of trying to enjoy the ice cream, but eventually the empty spoon is set on the table. “After about getting nuked or almost kidnapped by human traffickers a few days later… I thought this year couldn’t get worse.” Boy was she wrong.

Elisabeth's lips tighten, and she can't hide the sympathy she's feeling. Leaning forward onto her elbows, she says softly, "Kaylee, listen to me. What's happening to you? It's terrible. No one except maybe another telepath can fully understand what you're going through… but I have been in a similar situation. I blew out my ability and it wasn't usable for almost a year." She's not sure Kaylee ever knew that about her. It's not like they were friends back then. "The year I was heading up Frontline… during the riots."

She puts her hand on Kaylee's wrist to draw her attention more fully. "Most people don't have a clue about the nuances of the world around us. You feel it in the background hum of hundreds of minds, the sense of never being fully alone. I feel it in the ebb and flow of sound waves around me, eddying and pooling in certain ways that tell me someone has moved behind me or sniffled just out of sight or that the corridor to my left turns 200 meters down." It's not exactly the same, it can't be. But maybe it's similar enough. "The silence was deafening. I felt so alone, all the time. Like I was walking through a dream world at first, nothing had substance. Nothing was solid. Nothing was real." Sadness flickers in her eyes.

"After a while, it was more like… living in a soundproofed room. The air always felt thick, like it wasn't moving. And that … that part never changed." She never felt quite whole. "I wish I could say it goes away, but it doesn't. You … adapt. And you get used to the feeling, but like any amputee, something is always missing." She wishes she could say otherwise, but … maybe just knowing she's not alone will help just a little. Sensory-based powers, Liz has often thought, are not nearly as well understood as people would like to believe.

“That’s what they kept telling me at Benchmark. I’ll adjust,” Kaylee grumbles, picking up the spoon again. “Just… Right now… it just doesn’t feel possible to like this. There is a small part of me that can’t accept that it’s for forever.” She blinks a few times, scraping at the top of the ice cream, but does eventually manage an apologetic smile for Liz.

“Anyhow, I don’t plan to go quietly into the night, yet,” Kaylee grasps at the tattered threads of hope within her. Finally, she digs out a scoop. “I’ve got plans. Talked to Richard today about going back to Canada.”

"And maybe it's not," Elisabeth says. "Don't think for a second that I didn't know your brother was going to be armpits-deep in this mess." She grins a little. "It's good — it'll keep his mind busy, helping you." She helps herself to the other spoon and the flavor of ice cream Kaylee didn't claim. "It's not something I can actually stick my hands into, officially." Although that's not going to stop her in the slightest if Richard and Kaylee do find something that can be acted on.Kaylee knows her sister well enough to know that.

"You guys better keep in contact when you go." Elisabeth pauses. "For this? It might actually be okay to ask Cassandra for some help too. She doesn't want to use her abilities all the time, and she's really happy running the bakery. But for you?" Cassie knew the other Kaylee, after all. "She'd do it. Maybe she can learn something useful, if all the wreckage hasn't been fucking stuck in a dark hole somewhere." Which is altogether possible.

“I wouldn’t dream of taking her away from the bakery,” Kaylee says with a small shake of her head. “But… I might see if I can sneak something back to her to look at.” She waves the spoon and adds, “If they haven’t completely cleared it that is,” Which she does, honestly, worry about. “Plus it could be useful for others investigations.”

Kaylee shakes her head, “I’m keeping it light and taking people like Dr. Yeh and Luther - if he’ll go - but also Aman for teleporting anything useful if we have to sneak it out.” There is a little wicked waggle of her brows, popping another bite of ice cream in her mouth, as just talking about something like that wipes away the depression. It was a thread of hope to hold on to.

Elisabeth can't help but smile as Kaylee perks up and has focus. She was hoping to see something along these lines. "I brought you something else to look at," she offers. There's an undertone of something — maybe a little uncertainty — as the audiokinetic sets her spoon and ice cream down. She hasn't eaten much yet. But she fishes into her pocket to slide the piece of card stock across the table.

She retrieves her spoon and ice cream, and then clears her throat. "I was hoping to … be encouraging, I guess. Maybe it will help if you keep it with you." The piece of stiff paper has words on it.

Haunted by choices

Seeing ghosts in the glass

Voices, they chase you

Can't escape from the past

Do you ever wonder

what you lost on the way?

Was all that compromise

really worth what you gained?

The world that you live in can be cold and unkind

The people you trusted can be twisted by lies

You thought it was over, but you should have known

When too much has touched you, can you really go home?

Stand your ground

When it's all falling down

Stand your ground

All that you've seen up to now

Brought you to the crossroad

All that you've lived up to now

Proved you can carry the load

A dark night of the soul only leads to the light

You still have the choice to stand and to fight

The road stretches before you like the vast Milky Way

Take that one step and you're back in the fray

Stand your ground

When it's all falling down

Stand your ground

Tomorrow's not promised

Yesterday's gone

Today is the battle

You can rest when you're done

The spoon is gently set on the table as Kaylee catches some of the words on the paper. With a curious glance to Liz, she pulls it the rest of the way to her. There is a worried furrow to her brows as she begins to read. It’s not to the content, but for what it will do to her fragile hold on her emotions.

Kaylee was right to worry, almost immediately, tears threatened to blur her vision and prevent her from reading. After running her hand across both eyes - a couple of times really - and sniffling, she manages to read through it all.

“That’s beautiful, Liz,” Kaylee says softly with a thick voice full of emotions. “The family is really lucky to have you.” She gives her a small sad smile. “I wish I felt as strong as everyone keeps saying I am.” Her eyes move over the words again, only half paying attention.

“With negation there is hope and knowledge that who you are is still there, just… sleeping until the time is right,” Kaylee says quietly. “If the doctors are right, this is forever. I… don’t know if I can do this Liz. I’m trying, but forever is… such a long time.”

Scooting her chair closer, Elisabeth wraps her arm around Kaylee's shoulder. "You are stronger than you know," she whispers to her sister. "And when you can't be strong, lean on me. Lean on all of us. We'll help hold you up until you can catch your breath." She wishes she could tell Kaylee it's not forever, but she won't lie to the woman who has become sister and partner. Despair is a realm she's pretty well acquainted with. "I've got you, I promise."

Kaylee leans against Liz and rests her head on her shoulder, mostly to hide the tears that seem to be seeping out of the corners of her eyes. After another sniff, Kaylee says, “I was finally getting my shit together. I don’t know what Donovan is going to do with me. I can’t be SCOUT if I can’t get it back. He seems convinced I will though.” That gets a small laugh from her.

“How do I trust anyone… or walk out of this apartment without freaking out when someone comes up behind me?” Kaylee sighs out heavily and holds the paper to her chest. “I don’t know how to be normal. I’m terrified that I’m going to lose everything I have worked so hard for.”

"I know," Liz whispers, resting her head atop Kaylee's. "It's scary as hell. It'll take a little time until you're okay enough to hit the streets. But your job is not entirely contingent on your ability, Kaylee. And you are not your ability, either. It's a hard thing to relearn — I know that. I had to do it too. It's too early to give up hope." She doesn't let her own tears fall, though inside she's aching for Kaylee and Abby, and everyone else facing it.

"You are still a good cop. Trust the people you already know to trust to have your back. If you're not sure of your instincts — they are still good instincts, but we've got your back. Rely on us to help. We're all here." Elisabeth sighs heavily and tightena her hold. "And you walk out of this apartment the same way we've always recovered from the shit that we've lived through — one damn step at a time. Because the only way out is through," she murmurs.

“For SCOUT it is, but…” Kaylee sighs lifting her head from her Sister-in-laws shoulder, “… that will be a bridge to cross when I get there.”

Kaylee takes a deep calming breath, before she finally sets the paper on the table. Only to replace it with the spoon and ice cream. “I think that… the thing I worry the most about is being irrelevant again… not being able to protect my family.” That people will see her as weak she thinks, but doesn’t say it.

"Fffft," Elisabeth scoffs. "I don't know what the hell happened to ever make you feel irrelevant, but if it was a person, point them out so I can pop them in the nose." She's kind of kidding, but not really. "Kaylee…. Telepath or not, I am happy to have you at my back any day of the week. I mean, sure," she teases, "your marksmanship still needs constant practice." She grins and nudges her sister with her shoulder. "But seriously… you are far more capable of kicking ass and taking names than you give yourself credit for. Your telepathy is not all there is to you and it's not what determines your value to any of us."

Kaylee can’t help but laugh around a bite of ice cream, “It needs a lot of work.” She knows how bad she is, even after all those months of work to get her to a passing score for the yearly shooting range recertifications. “Probably lost a lot of it while out of it,” she groans out at the thought.

It is clear Kaylee isn’t going to be completely convinced until she is back, but.. “Maybe we can find out when I’m ready. There… is a long road still ahead of me before I’m confident I can do the job, again.”

The nod Elisabeth gives is accompanied by a sympathetic expression. "You'll get there. I have enough faith in you for both of us until you find your feet."

Retrieving her spoon and the pint of ice cream that is starting to melt a little, she adds, "Besides — you can't leave me at the PD by myself. I refuse to lose my partner."

There is a soft huff of amusement at Liz’s confidence - “That would be one of us with faith” - if only Kaylee could find it in herself. Picking up her coffee, her drifts down to the paper in front of her. Her smile gentles.

“Thank you, Liz.”

Kaylee looks up, with her cooling cup cradled between her hands. “For this… for… just being there. I know you were there… when I was…” Her voice catches again and she gives her head a frustrated shake, putting her mug down again without a sip. “When I was lost, I… remember a voice singing.”

The heel of her hand rubs her eyes again, as she murmurs. “Dammit, can I just talk without turning into an emotional mess.” Hands drop with a frustrated sound at the back of her throat. “I was just going to say, I’m lucky to have a sister-in-law like you.”

It makes Elisabeth choke up, that she got through. Even if it was just a little. She sets her spoon in the ice cream container and smiles just a little. "I didn't know if you could hear me… Sure as hell am not certain enough of my writing to do anything with it. It's the only thing I've ever done solo. Eve and I have collaborated a couple of times… here and elsewhere now." Always a weird feeling to say that. "But … I'm glad that you knew. I just… didn't want you to give up."

She's a bit teary-eyed too, but she grins at Kaylee. "I've been really really lucky in three different worlds to have you." Because although she had Virus Kaylee, Bright Liz had her Kaylee too. "We're going to make it through. Like always, we're going to hold each other up in the bad times and cheer in the good ones. Okay?"

Kaylee manages a small wavering smile. There were faint memories of other versions of herself talking to Liz in another place and time. Much like the memory of her sister-in-law singing, while Kaylee was stuck in the void of her mind, they were all like dreams; fuzzy and fading. There was some comfort in knowing that they always seem to have each other’s backs.

“Okay….” Kaylee says quietly, with a small nod of her head “Okay, sis.”

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