Living On The Edge


bf_kaylee_icon.gif bf_luther2_icon.gif

Scene Title Living On The Edge
Synopsis Time is working against her, as Kaylee rushes to rescue the man she loves.
Date June 12-15, 2017

Outside Boulder, Colorado

June 13, 2017

The drive from New York to Colorado, claims the GPS, should take a little under 28 hours if one were to drive.

The GPS also claims that there is no building at the address listed on the coordinates its been given. All there should be, according to the machine, is pristine, sprawling Rocky Mountain forest. But this is where Luther had written coordinates in a small leatherbound journal, locked away in a hidden floor safe of a secret safehouse, the location of the facility known as Geopoint. Where Kaylee had seen, in his mental mindscape, the sprawl of five separate biodomes and underground labs. Where the Project Looking Glass machine stood, a ten foot tall triangle of metal and wires, waiting to take a team through to a Twilight Zone dimension. A project that went beyond space and time.

The GPS is partly right. There is no building here. Only heaps and heaps of smouldering ruins in a large, sunken crater, still smoking like a volcanic caldera.

Whatever happened here… seems impossible to have survived it.


Kaylee’s Apartment

New York City

10:01 a.m.

Will be home in a few minutes.
Can’t wait.

Love you, Beautiful.

Since the start of the year, Luther had proposed to Kaylee and promised her no more secrets. The following months had been a whirlwind of what could be described as rediscovery. A revisit of places they had been, showing her, telling her as much as he could. The man still had to be careful about how much he exposed himself to the open world, given that Pinehearst had been seized by the government, warrants placed for arrests and others wanted for questioning. But most of all, he’d shown her where he’d kept his valuable secrets. The sort that were not of any value except for the hard cash, but in the form of journals and flash drives filled with evidence. In case they would come for him. And he’d worked out a plan in the instance such a fate would befall him.

As cautious as he could be, Luther couldn’t be on the lookout 24-7. Such paranoia was too exhausting to maintain, so the best course of action was to continue the charade until they could work out what to do, how to get away. With a few exceptions. The dance of pretend was almost equally as exhausting.

But each time they reunited, it was always worth the wait. Luther was enthusiastic. Jojo enjoyed his two humans. And now, he had promised, he would tell her if he was running late.

That was over half an hour ago.

“I mean… it's been…” Kaylee looks at her phone screen before setting it on the table again. “Thirty minutes.” A worried glance to the cat who was sitting in the table in front of her. A chirp is all she gets from him in response. “Yeah, well you’re no help.” Taking some of the sting out of her words, by scratching at his chin.

It hadn't really been too long. There had been times in the past when he had been late. But… that was the past. Before she knew who he really was, before there was a sense of danger.

How long did he tell her to wait, before she hit the safehouse and the safe? A side glance goes to the phone.

A half and hour.

Looking down at the ring on her finger, she roll it around… already picking up that nervous habit, though she might be convincing herself it is real. “He did say, he’d tell me if he was going to be late….” Picking up the phone she types out another message to him begging him to contact her, though deep down the twist in her gut knows it is futile.

A half an hour, he said.

“It’s time.” A glance to Jojo, the telepath says firmly. “I’m going. Check his place and… go from there.” Kaylee sighs out, rising to her feet. She hated this feeling, not knowing. There was hope that he was only not answering and she’d find him at the safe house. Maybe a test?

Why? Because it would mean he was alive and okay.

Luther’s Secret Safehouse, New York

11:30 a.m.

They had a process. They had practiced it, though not to the extent of waiting a full span of thirty minutes and onward. It was like out of a movie, complete with secret passwords and surveillance spots. But ultimately as she makes her way to the safehouse apartment, there had been one phrase he would tell her. Trust your instincts. And instinct told her, the moment she had approached the door and turned the knob, the moment she reached out for the hum of his mind within the apartment and found nothing, that Luther was not there.

The instinct is confirmed once she turns on a light and reveals the broken furniture, scorch marks, shattered glass and upon closer inspections, some blood stains on the floor rug and droplets on the hardwood. There had been a struggle, no doubt, although no sign of forced entry. That wouldn’t be a shock - Luther had mentioned the team having three teleporters and a man whose vortex powers could transport things and people through.

But given the signs of a fight she stands within, there’s no doubt what had happened. The lack of a body meant the assumption that they weren’t interested in losing their asset entirely was a correct one. It also meant the next step of the process.

As soon as the door swings open, Kaylee’s heart sinks. Luther had always talked about this day, but she always held some secret hope that they would find a way get him out of it and finally be free to be happy.

Presented with the scene before her, Kaylee’s first instinct is to call the cops; but, she knows she can’t. So she can only stand there and stare at the obvious scene of a struggle with a hand over her mouth and the keys clutched tight in her hand. Closing her eyes, Kaylee concentrates on gaining control of her emotions… pushes them down, so that she can enter what she calls her ‘cop mode.’ The term was a joke, but it was something she had to do for ever scene. What she had to do that day at Great Kills when she held him at gunpoint.

It was a skill honed over time and at the moment, it allows her to remember what she had to do now. One of her glocks is removed from its holster, thumb brushing the safety off.

Tearing her gaze away from the chaos, Kaylee moves into the bedroom; specifically the closet. Her composure is almost lost, when confronted with clothes in that closet. Fingers pass over the fabric, even from where she is she can smell the lingering cologne on his suit jackets. It threatens the fragile control she has. Yet, she forces her to shove them aside and drop to her knees on the carpeted floor. Tucking her weapon away, it takes only moments to pull up the carpet and pull off the board that covers the safe. A smallish safe, set face up into the floor and tucked into the very corner of the closet. He had made her practice this moment. Made her practice the combination. Had her recite it often; often like a little game.

It wasn’t a game now.

She hadn’t realized she was shaking until she reached for the dial. Fingers curl in for a moment, but only just. Kayle couldn’t allow herself to think to hard about it.. Or the other room… or… STOP IT!

Taking a deep breath, Kaylee’s fingers work the dial with practiced ease, one way and then another, back around until…


Yanking over the handle and pulling open the lid with some effort. Kaylee is surprised to see a folded letter on top of the backpack filled with evidence she was suppose to supply to the media and police. Gently picking up the letter, Kaylee looks a little confused. This hadn’t been there before. As she unfolds it, a cautious glance is cast around, before looking at the contents. Her breath catches with a gasp as she reads the words; eyes widening slightly with surprise.

“Thought you’d never ask, handsome,” tears actually sliding down her cheeks, a small smile on her lips.

Pulling the bag out of the safe, Kaylee makes quick work of putting everything back in place and is flying out the door in only a few moments.

Rescue me, beautiful. The letter had said. Along with those words was a set of coordinates and the label, Geopoint.

In the end, Luther knew her too well, Kaylee would have exhausted all her resources to find him. Even if it took years… no matter what she might find, the woman would have come for him. The man she loved gave her the key to do just that. Not just that, he gave her hope.

On the Highway

June 12, 2017

11:45 p.m.

It isn't until late into the night, the first adrenaline rush over, that Kaylee finds the exhaustion starting to set in. She'd already had a full day's work before. Luther had meant to join her for a late meal as he had done in recent months, emerging from the safety of hidden spots when he could and contacting her via burner phones to conceal his identity from would be hunters or prying coworkers. Now, with only thoughts of where Luther might be and the steady night-mode screen of her blue-triangle moving across a highlighted path on the GPS are her lone road trip companions.

Even the radio's not much help, playing a slower soft rock ballad as an evening selection.

There's still activity on the road, travelers heading to and from wherever they've been or are going. She's not alone headed westbound out on Interstate Highway 80, but the hour is late enough that headlights and taillights aren't common. Every so often though, she runs into delays via public works road work on the highway. One such slow zone sees a construction worker waving at cars to temporarily funnel into one lane, pass through, then come out the other side several feet later down the stretch.

Behind her, a couple of cars line up, their drivers equally as annoyed by the slow down.

Fingers tap on the steering wheel as Kaylee waits impatiently for the worker to flip the sign around. “Come on,” she growls between gritted teeth. There is a heavy sigh at the steady stream of cars coming from the other direction. Resting her arm on the center console she rubs at her tired eyes. Letting her forehead rest against her fingers briefly.

HONK! Honkhonk!

Head jerking up, Kaylee notices the cars streaming ahead of her. Shit. She fell asleep. This wasn’t good. Glancing at her rearview mirror as someone lays on the horn again, the telepath starts forward, ignoring the stares from the workers as she passes. There is some relief when the road opens up again, however, she is very aware that she at least needs to rest her eyes for a few.

Thankfully, not too far down the road is a rest stop. Normally, it’s frowned on to park a car and sleep at a rest stop; but, she is only planning on resting her eyes for a few moments. Unfortunately, the stress and exhaustion hits her hard and Kaylee is out before she can even get into a comfortable position; head propped on her palm and forehead resting against the window beside her.

Knock knock.

Awoken with a start, Kaylee looks up with a bleary blink just in time to be blinded by light outside her window. Squinting, she turns her head away to look out at the day lit word outside the windshield. “Miss. You can’t sleep here,” the trooper says through the window. The woman only gives a nod to show she’s heard him and pushes herself up straighter in the seat. There is a hiss of pain as she moves. How long had she been out? By the way her neck protested, it must have been sometime. Then she realizes it was light outside… what the… That realization helps wake her up further, as fresh panic sets in.

It gets her back on the road, after a quick check of the time. Doubt and fear start nagging at her. What if she’s too late. what if the coordinates are wrong. What if by sleeping she doomed him. “Damn it,” Kaylee snaps, hand slapping the wheel, regretting it instantly as the ring bites into the tender skin of her finger. That will leave a bruise. The world blurs slightly as she gives her hand a shake, it was hard to keep hope as the hours whittle on. Placing both hands on the wheel again, she grips it hard.

June 13, 2017

6:00 a.m.

“Please, be okay,” Kaylee whispers tearfully to no one at all.

The trooper heads back to his car, checking in to dispatch before heading back on the road. Kaylee's left to her own devices and continue on down the road as well, each moment of delay left to weigh heavy. But there was still no time to delay. There's only the brief stop needed to make for gas, maybe food if she can stomach it. Coffee, if she needed it. No mochas though.

It's when she's in the middle of focusing on getting to her destination that movement in the rear view mirror catches her eye. The driver behind her and a passenger, a couple, their minds feeling familiar in a distant manner just on the edge of her range. It's a nagging feeling, the brush of familiarity to it, settling in the back of her mind like a word that doesn't come despite being on the tip of her tongue. But she has the time, alone in the car, to think about it. And in thinking about it, she comes to realize her unsettled feeling isn't simply paranoia.

They've been following her. Since she'd hurriedly left New York, maybe, since she left Luther’s apartment. They may have put a watch on the safehouse. And what could have been dismissed as a couple on a road trip comes into focus with alarming realization that they’ve been behind her for some time. The dark-colored sedan behind her continues to keep pace, tailing at a distance.

Watching her rearview mirror for time, changing lanes and watching the car’s movement, Kaylee’s whole body goes cold at that realization. She needed to lose them and quick. For the moment, she forces herself to relax and drive; watching for opportunities. Briefly, the idea flickers through her head to take a turn off to Manhattan, since her father had some interesting individuals staying with him. The idea is quickly discarded. The telepath wouldn’t risk her father like that.

It isn’t until Junction City, Kansas that she finds her opportunity in a restaurant just off the highway, Ike’s Place the quaint hand painted sign declares. Pulling into a parking spot, Kaylee glances at the shadows as they are starting to lengthen. She knew deep down she was running out of time, every moment she spent doing something other than driving towards Geopoint, was a moment that could mean Luther’s life or death.

Junction City, Kansas

11:30 a.m.

Stepping into the restaurant, the telepath is assaulted by mental hums and the sounds of people talking. The woman is offered a smile when greeted. Yes, only a party of one. Booth was fine. As she always does, Kaylee sits where she can see the door. Taking the menu, she orders a tea. “Oh, by the way, where is the bathrooms?” Nodding as the direction is pointed out. It is only once the drink arrives and she orders some food, that the woman gets up to use the restroom. Making a show to taking a sip of tea.

Slipping into the hall, she had planned to make her stand in the bathroom, but… as her hand pushes on the door, she catches sight of the kitchen door. A glance goes back to the main room, how much time could she get if she went out the back? Might as well find out. Instead of the bathroom, Kaylee pushes her way into the kitchen. Any resistance, is ‘directed’ away, they had more important things to do. The detective hates to do it, but desperate times and all of that.

After and inquiry about the nearest car rental outfit, Kaylee emerges out the back of the restaurant, head turning in search danger, before - after a quick and cautious stop to grab the back pack - she takes off in the direction of a Enterprise Rent-A-Car she had been told was a few miles up the street.

The wooden half walls do little to conceal the pair trailing behind Kaylee. She gets a good look at them, a blotchy-pale faced man in a baseball cap with an average, dismissable face and stubble, pushed up long-sleeve grey shirt and jeans, mid 40s likely. The woman beside him of similar years but likely younger by a few, she's pulled her hair up into a bun, natural makeup, light colored eyes that are more attentive and aware, also in traveling clothes. She'd been driving. He's the one that spots the detective at the booth but they choose a spot near the bar where it's central to the room.

They don't quite make a show of ordering food and drinks, but there is a bit of chatter with the waitress just so the worker gets a cover story. They're headed out west to see their daughter who's in school. When Kaylee gets up to go supposedly to the bathroom, she can feel the mental notes made from the man, a check of a phone for time.

The kitchen workers glance up, but her mental suggestion has them looking back to their work without any protest or further notice. The back exit spills into the back lot, and finding someone helpful is easy around here with folks being friendly. The car rental shop is a jog away, putting her training and exercise stamina to the test. She can see the Rent-A-Car sign up ahead, the wide alley between buildings letting out to the street.

Just as she's about to come out, though, the black sedan from before pulls into view up the street. A tense moment spent, waiting for the car to cross her path, but the woman in the car doesn't spot her as she drives past. Which leaves the man back at the restaurant, most likely, watching to see if the detective doubles back.

Heart pounding and breathing labored from those moments where she sprints down alleyways, Kaylee comes to a quick stop when she spots the familiar vehicle. “Crap,” her softly complains between each heavy draw of breath. Ducking behind a dumpster towards the front of the building, Swinging the pack off her back, Kaylee presses against the wall and watches the strange woman. It gives her a moment to double over and catch her breath, a hand pressing at the stitch in her side with a grimace.

As the car passes, there is a relieved sigh; but, Kaylee knows she can’t relax until she is back on the road and sure that they are not following. Giving a moment longer, the telepath finally sets out from the alley and makes her way into the rent-a-car place. “Hi. I need to rent a car for about a week.”

“Absolutely!” The employee offers brightly.

What follows will be a bunch of standard questions. Cash changes hand, because there is less of a paper trail. Kaylee silently thanks Luther for thinking to put cash in the back pack. In the end, it may take more mental nudging, but she will come out of there with a car. Picking a smaller suv, Kaylee was keeping the possible terrain in mind. Anxiety gnaws on her stomach as she heads back on the road, trying not to think about how much time she has wasted.

12:15 p.m.

After making sure that Kaylee isn’t interested in a convertible or other sportier vehicle more fitting for a woman on an adventure, the counter cashier of the Rent-A-Car hands over the keys to a silver SUV with enough pep and go that she heads out, back on the road, in a hurry. Though it’s nowhere near as efficient for gas mileage, she’ll be grateful for when the onboard GPS points her to more mountainous roads once she’s entered Colorado’s state lines.

And so far as she can tell, she’s lost her tail, as the black sedan is nowhere in her rear view mirror.

Shell Gas Station, Boulder, Colorado

5:34 p.m.

It’s in Boulder that she can stop once more if she wants to resupply. Nobody bothers to ask her questions beyond the friendly small talk. Though not nearly as hectic as the Big Apple, the locals here are still urban enough that they stick to business unless otherwise engaged.

Later, she’s on the last stretch when she sees the smoke of a wildfire in the distance in the direction of her route. A worrisome prospect.

It’s on this stretch that Kaylee’s cell phone rings, the theme for the Twilight Zone chirps loud in the quiet of the vehicle, the radio long ago switched off. Only two people have that ring tone, this was Elisabeth Harrison… or at least the one from another timeline. Brows furrow as she answers it. “What’s up, Li?” Brows shoot back up and she glances around for a place to pull off. “Whoa Slow down.” Was Liz crying? Hysterically?

Finding a pull out, Kaylee turns off and stops for a phone call that may very well, make the woman lose all hope. As she talks to the woman on the other end, the telepath looks slowly in the direction of the smoke. A hand lifts to cover her mouth as a wave of anxiety hits her hard enough to make her feel a bit ill. There is no way to stop the worried tears that slide down her cheeks. When a question is asked, Kaylee nods at first; but realizing that Liz can’t see it, she offers a rough, “Yeah.” Swallowing she tried again, “Yeah. I can look for her. I’m already on my way.” There is slight keening to her voice, as she struggles to contain the emotions that are tearing at her heart, as she admits, “I think Luther is there.”

She dips her head down and presses her forehead against the steering wheel. Liz will get to hear her struggling not to break, before she adds a soft, “I’ll let you know, what I find.” There is no waiting for her friend to say anything more, the call is disconnected and the phone tossed to the side in a surge of frustration and anger.

Kaylee just knew deep down she was too late. She had tried so hard… but it wasn’t enough.

6:35 p.m.

With that thought alone, Kaylee finally loses what control she has on her emotions. Alone in that car, on that stretch of highway, she finally gives into her despair. Fingers grip the wheel tightly as she lets out a scream. Angry at the world, angry at Pineheart…. Angry at the people that stole him away from her, after everything they went through…. Minutes stretch on, but finally, the tears slow and she is reduced to hitched breaths. Her head lifts slowly from the wheel, blurry eyes move to find the smoke again. A part of her almost gives in again, until she sparkle of her engagement ring catches her attention.

Staring at the glittering diamond, Kaylee starts nodding at a thought. Luther wouldn’t give up on her. Sitting up in her seat, the woman takes a deep breath and lets it out shakily. She won’t give up on him. Hoping that there are no troopers around, the telepath dares to push the speed limit. In her mind, she was in a race against time.

There’s a point where the SUV has to be taken off road, and the going is slow. Even the SUV struggles, but she’ll be glad to have been forced to switch to a vehicle with All-terrain tires and 4-wheel drive. She’s forced to stop, however, when the GPS indicates there is no more road. She finds herself looking down at the carnage from a thousand feet up atop a turnabout outcropping on Paiute Peak, peering down where spaced out trees are scorched, some still burning to give her a terrible landmark to approach. Hastened footsteps down the loose rock slope take her into the treeline bordering the facility and lake beside it. She knows eventually the forest rangers will spot the smoke and send out emergency services, but for the time being there’s nobody else to disturb her search.

As she nears the largest dome, the signs of a firefight are obvious. Gunfire pock marked on tree trunks, overturned vehicles, and bodies. Security teams, gunned down or otherwise dispatched, gathered around an entryway to a ruin of metal and glass. Marks of explosives having been used dot the landscape. There’s at least a few who still have automatic weaponry clutched in their stiff arms, slumped or toppled where they’ve perished in the fight.

It doesn’t give much hope, seeing the aftermath of such a battle. It’s hard to say whether it’s the smoke or the despair that causes further tears. But she hadn’t given up hope this far, and the facility is large. To explore through its entirety would take a long time. Where to begin feels like an overwhelming question mark.

Geopoint Scientific Enclosure

Just Outside Boulder, Colorado

6:55 p.m.

As soon as the scenery changes to that of a chaotic battle, Kaylee removes her glock from the shoulder holster and her movements become more cautious. Every dead body gets a quick glance, her stomach twisting with worry, the smell of burned bodies making her nauseous. Deep down she was afraid, she’d find him among the dead.

It was a truly nightmare scene. The paperwork alone would be monstrous. Kaylee had to fight hard not to lose what little composure she was hanging onto. It was there by only a thread. Still the gun in her hand trembled and the anxiety claws at her heart.

Crouching down next to one of the bodies, Kaylee grabs at the canvas like fabric of the shoulder and pulls it towards her. A glance tells her what she already knew. It wasn’t Luther. In fact, the field of her ability was silent. Not a hum… There was so many dead.


It’s the faintest flickering of something. Like a small moth beating against the fringes of her mind. A survivor? A glance goes in that direction, eyes narrow as she concentrates. It was deeper into the chaos. The glock is quietly returned to her holster and a rifle pried from dead fingers. A few magazines pulled from webbed pockets, before she straightens again.

When had she become this? Stealing from the dead, for her own protection? Looking at the dead on the field, Kaylee wasn’t sure her pistol would do the job. Boots crunch as she crosses broken glass, moving toward that faint fluttering hum. What the hell happened here?

As she moves through the campus towards the broken biodome, Kaylee finds the field not as quiet as she’d have expected. The crackling flames of fire, groaning metal supports, the wind causing a brief sound of fiberglass coming off and crashing loudly against the ground and other bits further in the facility. But, focused on the faint hum as she is, it becomes more and more obvious that the feel of the mind is not only human, but… familiar. As soon as she gets close enough, when her range extends to grasp on to it. She knows it’s him. She knows he’s alive.

But his mind’s strength is faint, delirious in the way he struggles to stay alive by clinging on to pain and the feeling of light and warmth provided by fire. And by a silent plea, a prayer almost, that this is not how it ends. That he has to stay awake. As much as he wants to close his eyes and imagine her face, imagine them both back on the deck of that beach house in Maine, the soft cries of seagulls and constant roar of the ocean waves… No, he remembers his task. The one thing he has to do.

Luther’s hand twitches as he hears boots crunching on the ground, on glass. A finger curls, pressing at one of the slowly bleeding wounds on his side. The pain is fading too, not a good sign for that to be going numb. Grey eyes find a nearby body, fallen atop a gun. As the boots get closer, he focuses on the task of worming his way towards the rifle.

He’ll hear the boots slow to a stop, when Kaylee spots his familiar form in that carnage. Then the gasp that follows and the noisy clatter of the rifle falling from slacked fingers and hitting the ground. Before she can stop herself, Kaylee is shouting out in a strangled cry…


It rings loud in this field of dead, as does the sound of her running towards him. Only the crackle of fire and crashing of structural pieces are louder. A skid of boot soles sends a small shower of gravel and glass pelting the side of him. Then cool hands are suddenly cradling his face, angling it so that he can see her. The debris under Kaylee’s knees bites, but she doesn't care, her eyes are all for him. Eyes bloodshot from all the tears and the exhaustion, she looks a mess. He can tell she’s been crying, cheeks flush from it.

“Luther,” she sobs out in relief and worry, hand brushing at the side of his face, ignoring the sticky cling of his blood on her fingers. “I'm here, handsome,” her voice wavering, she can’t help but smile just a little as she talks to him, though lips tremble with emotion. “I thought— “ her voice catches as she gives a little stifled sob. When she can speak again, she says softly, “I came to bring you home.”

Were it not for the sound of the rifle clattering to the ground and the gravel, glass and dirt bouncing off his prone form, Luther might have thought his mind had reached its breaking point. To hear Kaylee crying out his name, then her hands grasping, turning his face to her, seeing her crying, he nearly does. "Hey, beautiful. Don't…don't cry…" His throat closes up from its own tightened wash of guilt mixing with a sense of relief and exhaustion.

Aside from the dirt, mud and smoke smudges, he's stopped bleeding from the cuts on his face from shattered glass. A bruise has formed on his brow, swelling from a blunt force impact there. There are worse injuries, notably the worrisome amount of blood that stains his shirt and pooled at his side, still sticky at the center. Luther slowly lifts a dirt-caked hand to cover one of hers holding him, and for once she can feel that his skin is cold, clammy from having been dragged through then stuck in mud for hours. Nevertheless, a smile twists at the corner of his bloodied lips at her word that she's come to bring him home.

"You found the note." Already low in volume, his hoarse rumble struggles as a new pain, one not physical, threatens his own composure. "I'm sorry, Kaylee. Sorry you got dragged into this. I- I promised you…" His head leans heavily against her hands, grey eyes losing focus briefly.

“Don’t you dare apologize,” Kaylee says as firmly as possible with a tear filled voice. “I’m glad you left that note. This is where I need to be.” Biting her lip against the threat of more tears, her head shakes slowly. “I would have been so mad, if you hadn’t.” Fingers brush long the side of his face again, before she leans forward and presses a gentle kiss to his forehead.

When she pulls back, she notices the unfocused look in his eye. “No… nonono.” There is a keening quality to it as her voice pitches up a bit higher. “Don’t you leave me. Please.” That last word begging. “You have to hang on, okay?” Leaning down her forehead touches his lightly, «Please don’t leave me alone.» Whispers softly through his mind.

Pulling back and reluctantly letting go, Kaylee swings off her pack and then shrugs out of her gray hoodie; leaving her to deal with the chilly mountain air, with only a shirt and her shoulder rig. She needed to see what they were facing, which means making him comfortable; balling up the jacket and gently tucking it under his head. It smells of her, of lavender and vanilla.

Her hand rests along his stubbled jaw for a moment longer, before she shifts away to check his injuries. There was blood everything. So much blood. Trembling fingers hover over him as if afraid to touch. It looked bad. “This is going to hurt”, she says apologetically, as she pulls at the ragged edges of the shirt to tear it open. Letting go once she can see the wound and notices that it is still oozing. Looking back up at him, how much blood had he lost? It was suddenly understandable why he was so cold.

Opening the pack, she extracts the first aid kit she grabbed from the car. Though when she looks, it’s a rather lousy kit, but might just be enough to get him to Edward’s place. Ripping open several of the packs of gauze pads she finds, she shifts her weight, and whimpers out a soft, “I’m sorry.” Next thing he knows, she is pushing down on the wound with the gauze, bracing herself for his reaction… but determined to get the blood to slow, so that she can bandage it enough for the long trip ahead.

The whisper of her voice in his mind has Luther reaching out, physically as much as mentally. No, he affirms with a hitched breath, he won't leave her, not willingly. Her pulling away to examine him has his hand clutching somewhere on her knee nearby. He doesn't speak, conserving what energy he can at this point, but she can feel him narrowing his focus upon her, her words, her movement.

The familiar scent of lavender and vanilla nearby soothes the man. He stills, watching the side of her face as she checks the bullet wound site. Though she warns him about the pain, he groans faintly with a followup hiss and curl of his fingers, brow pinched down. But it's a good thing, then, that he can feel her press of the gauze against the site.

She's still tending to his injuries as the sun climbs the sky. For a time, Luther is silent and just focused on breathing and on the telepath. But there's a problem, that he knows, and she'll have to acknowledge it at some point. How they're going to get off this mountain. "Kaylee," Luther finally utters as his hand grips her leg. Grey eyes look up at her, partly narrowed at the brightness of the sky behind her. Part of him wants to resign himself to fate. The other, stubbornly, refuses to give in. It's the mixture battling inside that causes his brow to furrow with uncertainty. Eventually, he settles quietly on, "We need to get out of here." But the how remains a question mark. Somewhere in the thought process he comes to his own question, "How… did you get here?"

Kaylee has been equally quiet while she works on getting him patched up enough to move. It was sloppy, but she wasn’t working with much. It would slow down the flow at least…. hopefully.

“We have to get you out of here.” She agrees finally after a sniffle and a brush at the tears, leaving streaks of blood and ash over her own cheeks. Studying her handy work, she gives a little shudder, a hand moves to cover her eyes, while fighting the urge to break down into tears. Each breath is ragged with her tears. It wasn’t helping, but the telepath felt at a loss as to what to do…. how was she going to do this? She felt so helpless.

She would need to stop somewhere for more first aid supplies, looking at her hands and her clothing. Again, she’ll have to use her telepathy to keep them from asking questions… but… that could only happen, if she can get Luther to the car, first.

Finally, her hand drops to her lap and sits there limply with the other, a sad defeated glance goes his way. “One step at a time.” That was how they were going to do it. Kaylee glances where she can see the SUV through the trees. It wasn’t all that far, but… with an injured man… “It’s gonna hurt like hell, love; but, You… you’re gonna have to help me.” With that, she rolls up onto her feet and shifts around to where his head lays on her hoodie. Crouching again, she looks down at him through a curtain of blond curls, fingers comb through his blood matted hair. “Just think about the beach house. You promised we’d go back there.” A small trembling smile touches her lips. “Best not let me down, handsome.”

With that, she hooks hands into his armpits so that maybe she can get him upright enough to hook an arm over her shoulder. “Use the wall,” Kaylee grunts out as a suggestion as she tries to leverage him to his feet. This was going to be a very slow process.

Silent agreement follows a short nod from Luther. He understands the monumental task awaiting them. Though he doesn't exactly know the fate of the others on his team, there's enough resignation in his expression to assume that there will be no teleporters to save the day. And as bitter as he is about the situation he felt guilty for having participated in, there's a pang of sorrow for their loss.

But he would live. They'd get to that beach house again one way or another. Looking up as Kaylee explains and extracts the hoodie that served as his pillow, Luther readies himself as best he can. Before they heave to, he casts a sidelong glance behind him, swallowing roughly. "I love you, beautiful," he tells her, implying in the undertone that whatever guilt she might have for hurting him now, he's already long forgiven her. He shifts his arms so she can add her support. Hands plant on the ground, grasp for the broken wall, leaving a sticky red-brown trail behind.

With gritted teeth and clenched swearing, he works up to a leaning stand. A testing moment passes where he nearly passes out, doubling over on the wall and panting in the effort. His skin remains cold, but beads of sweat form along his face, a sheen appearing on his exposed arms as he tries not to leverage the whole of his weight on the smaller telepath. Though she's, no doubt, no slouch in the strength training department either.

Save for the occasional grunt or pained wince, with moments to rest against a scorched tree or so, Luther limits his swearing to quiet volumes. She'll notice, as they pass burning branches and glowing embers, the fires flicker and seem to die down in strength as the man's ability passively reaches for spare energy. It's a matter of how long can he hold on before medical science wins out against sheer stubborn will and supernatural power.

But eventually, they reach the waiting vehicle. Eventually, Luther collapses into the passenger side seat, leaning his head tiredly against the window glass. Exhaustion threatens to take over, but he fights it still. At some point, he loses the battle until Kaylee comes to his aid to wake him. To remind him of what he promised her, to not leave her alone.

The visions of the roadside scenery speeding by as she guns the vehicle into pushing its limits, as she's forced to stop so she can fill the tank again and slip into some less bloodied and dirtied clothing, all feel like a fever dream. The man won't know how long it took to drive, nor where their destination is. There's only the pain of getting jostled with the bumps and turns of the road, the mixture of coppery tastes in his mouth along with the scents of mud, lavender and vanilla.

Every mile and every minute that passes stretches on, even as the roadway blurs past her. When she had gotten him into the car, the distant wail of sirens were sounding, but luckily, they are far enough away from Geopoint, by time the first fire truck zips past them. It won’t be until she is on the highway that she relaxes enough to fish out her phone.

He won’t remember the call she makes to her father. Maybe wake up to a soft throw being tucked around him to help stave off the shivering that starts. Even though it is June, she turns up the heat. The only reason he doesn’t completely go under, is she won’t let him. Her ability curled around his mind, listening and making sure she isn’t losing him. It whispers to him when he seem to fade a little. Stories of her childhood, recounts of some of their dates, even the disasters.

The whole while, her heart is in her throat. Just knowing she was going to lose him. Soon she starts seeing the signs, relief washing over her. Fingers reach over to find his cold ones, where they peek out of the blanket. “We’re almost there, handsome. Just a little longer.”

When they reach the garage, there is a sudden stop, just hard enough to press him into the seat belt. “Ray!” Kaylee is already calling as she shoves open the driver’s side door. She can only hope they are ready for them. “Dad!” is called again as she hurries over to the passenger’s side. Unlike her own door, this one she opens gently, so that she can get a hand in to hold him up. Worriedly, she brushes fingers along his pale cheek. If she didn’t hear his mental voice humming loudly, she’d swear he was dead. “We’re here, Luther,” she whispers in reassurance.

Cardinal & Son Auto and Salvage

Manhattan, Kansas

11:00 p.m.

Some things can be accounted for, others not. People make the mistake of seeing Edward Ray as a prophet, as infallible, because they only ever see him when he is completely on and completely ready. No one sees Edward Ray in his sweatpants, hair uncombed, barefoot in a parking lot.


At least not often.

Bursting out of the Cardinal & Son garage, Edward Ray doesn't look like he was quite yet expecting company. The distance between Colorado and Kansas isn't a small one, and it's a miracle that Kaylee isn't in jail for how fast she must have driven the close the distance between those states, how exhausted she must be, and how tough Luther Bellamy is to have survived not only the ordeal he did, but the journey itself.

For all his disheveled appearance, Edward is carrying a backboard in one hand as he hustles out of the garage. He won't be the one lifting Luther, however. That responsibility falls to the iron man walking slowly behind him.

Allen Rickham, healed of his injuries and back in his prime, moves with thumping footfalls behind Edward, holding a first aid kit pensively. “Get some light on, lights!” Edward shouts as he scrambles up to the side of the vehicle.


The sudden stop of the vehicle jostles Luther awake via a jolt of pain. In his weakened state, though, he barely makes a sound to note it. He can hear Kaylee calling for her father, slumped back against the seat and car frame, barely conscious as she's opening the door on his side of the car. By virtue of the seatbelt holding him in, he remains. Half-lidded eyes flutter, and his jaw works in an attempt to gather his focus enough to speak. That focus fails, though not because of the lack of strength but due to the sight of Edward Ray and the iron man lumbering over from the garage. Luther Bellamy has seen a lot of random things in recent years. He's still never seen a man made of iron. Let alone the President-Elect from years ago. If he had been registered to vote, he would've voted for that guy.

That's one thing he'll remember, somewhere in the depths of his memories about the day. He'll not remember getting pulled from the car, getting laid out on the backboard, carried to where he winds up.

Dealing with the situation alone for so long, Kaylee can’t help to feel relief as Edward Ray comes barreling out of the garage. They might not have had a lot of bonding time, but his arrival gets him something he probably won’t expect… While one arm still keeps Luther upright in the car, the other wraps around her father in a one armed hug. “Thank you,” Kaylee chokes out as she briefly clings to her father tightly.

However, much she needs that contact, Kaylee’s attention immediately turns back to the possibly dying man in the car. Leaning across him, seeking out the seatbelt. “I did the best I could. We couldn’t risk a hospital.” As much as Kaylee would have rather taken him to one. It is a good thing, Edward is there, because as soon as she releases the seatbelt, the much larger man is a heavy weight. It will take both father and daughter to make sure he is lowered carefully to the board.

Fingers fumble with straps, trembling and exhausted. She finally has to let someone else strap him to the board. Eyes red and tired, it is amazing that she has found the energy to keep going. “He’s been shot… Looks like he took a heavy hit to the head, too. Concussion possible. I’ve managed to keep him awake.” She might be rambling in her exhaustion and the dull ache in her head. “I tried to get there as fast, as I could.” Clearly, she barely got there on time. Watery eyes, look up at her father, “I didn’t know… I didn’t know where else to turn.” Looking down at the man on the backboard, she shakes her head. “I can’t lose him.”

It takes Edward almost that long to recover from an unexpected embrace. Blue eyes are wide, lips parted in surprise. Rickham’s thumping presence reminds him of where and when he is, and the hushed “It’s nothing,” is perhaps inappropriately humble given the circumstances. “But don't thank me yet,” is more traditionally Edward Ray. “I'm not a doctor and we don't have much here.”

Taking the first aid kit from Rickham, Edward steps aside and allows the tall man of iron to bend down and pick Luther up the way someone might a toddler ready for a nap. With tremendous strength, Rickham carries Luther back toward the open entrance of the garage while Edward opens the first aid kit and rummages through. “He looks like he lost a lot of blood,” Edward mumbles to Kaylee.

“Does he have an ability?” Edward asks on coming inside the garage, watching Rickham lay Luther out on a cot that looks to have been reserved for other guests. Through the doorway from the shop into the garage, the familiar face of Tyler Case comes into view. He's silent, one hand over his mouth, looking between everyone involved anxiously.


A faint groan of pain escapes Luther as he’s lifted out of the seat. The dried blood on his thin shirt mixes with the stained bandages beneath it, and his breath comes short, shallow, labored. Skin cold against the iron man’s, he doesn’t protest at all. He might have, earlier, when what mindfulness of his appearance remained. When he’s finally brought into the garage and laid out for examination, it’s clearly miraculous the man’s not dead already. But he’s at least halfway there.

Physically, anyway. Mentally, he’s gamely clinging on, reaching with what little strength and stubbornness remaining, for the feel of Kaylee’s unique psychic texture in his thoughts. The garage lights flicker uncharacteristically, dimming for a moment when Luther’s ability also seems to sputter in its passive draw for what he can manage to focus on long enough to take some energy back into himself, only to struggle for lack of it.

In her state of mind it takes Kaylee a moment to realize what Edward is asking and a moment longer, to dredge up the information from an exhausted mind. “He described it as energy conversion.” Moving along side her father, she watches worriedly as her fiancé is placed on the cot. The flicker of the lights catches her attention. Point up, to draw her father’s attention to it, she continues, “He explained it as he can convert one energy type into another, including for himself. Even when we passed burning debris, the flames died down as if smothered.”

Once they catch up to Rickham and Luther, Kaylee takes a moment a offer the President a warm, if worn smile. A hand lightly touches his metallic arm. “Thank you, sir.”

Then her attention refocuses on Luther, moving to press a hand against his cool forehead, blonde curls sliding over her shoulder as she bends to do so. “Normally, he feels like he has a constant high fever,” Kaylee observes worriedly. Which means his ability must be working overtime. A hopeful look is angled at her father. “But, I-I think his ability is how he’s been able to hang on, he is drawing energy?” Maybe. Kaylee doesn't completely understand the man’s ability fully.

“Conversion…” Edward says with a furrow of his brows, looking to Rickham. “Alright, so…” Setting the first aid kit down, Edward motions from it to Kaylee with an expectant you know better than I do look in his eyes. Edward, instead, grabs a wax pencil from a small desk and sets about writing on the wall.

“Ed?” Tyler asks with a look to Edward scribbling on the wall. “Uh, Ed he’s… he’s not— uh— is there really time for like, long division?” Rickham looks over to Tyler, and then Edward, who has turned from his half-formed equation and narrows his blue eyes.

“Forget the first aid kit,” Edward says without breaking eye contact with Rickham. “Tyler,” those blue eyes finally flick to Tyler. “We’re going to need your help.”

When Kaylee touches his forehead and bends closer, Luther manages to stay conscious long enough to weakly utter the telepath's name. His eyes roll up, the garage lights flicker again, slower and only a few times, each draw lagging longer between them. It's as if he doesn't register the presence of the others gathered around at all, delirious as his heart struggles to keep going despite the blood loss. Fingers twitch, an attempt made to lift his hand for hers. The attempt fails, though, and he settles down. It's all he can do to think about staying awake and staying alive, to not go into the dark again.

There is a small nod an a soft, “Thank you, “ that Kaylee murmurs to her father, already working to get the bandages off with the crappy little scissors that come in any little first aid kit. At least she paid attention to her classes and kept up with her certs. She wasn’t a doctor, but the telepath had a better chance then the rest of them. There is a grimace as she works to get the gauze off with shaky fingers, not enjoying the pain he’ll experience.

Unknown to the others in the room, the telepath is a presence in Luther’s mind. Gentle prods of persuasion to help him stay awake.

As the wound is exposed, Kaylee is half listening to around her, maintaining her focus on what she is doing. That is until she hears her father say something about the first aid kit. That bring up her head in a quick snap up. She looks between the three men, expression a mix of nervous and curious. “What are you thinking, Ray?” caution bleeding into his daughter’s tone, as her hand moves to where she can curl fingers loosely around Luther’s.

“I'm thinking he had about thirty minutes left before he gives out,” is Edward’s purposefully cold assessment. “So we have two alternatives,” is said with a furrow of his brows, walking over to Allen and briefly resting a hand of his shoulder before moving to kneel beside Luther. “We give you two some privacy and you say your goodbyes,” blue eyes lift up to Kaylee, “or I buy us some time and have Tyler swap his ability with Allen’s. We convince him to take a metallic form,” blue eyes go down to Luther, “and he survives in that stasis until we can get him to a proper physician who can treat his wounds.”

Rikcham makes a noise in the back of his throat, then closes his eyes and his flesh pales from the dark iron coloration. The steel texture to his skin just fades and dissipates, returning him to the slim figure of the man who was nearly President. “As long as he doesn't will himself back, he can stay that way indefinitely. It suspends all biological functions, and in his state… it'll save his life.”

Looking over to Tyler, Rickham raises a brow, but the wide-eyed younger of the pair just walks into the room and rubs a hand through his hair. “Oh yeah, yeah totally I— I think I can do that. Sure, yeah, swaperoo.” Tyler bobs his head into a series of slow, shallows nods.


The uncharacteristic chilled feeling of Luther's paled hand remains while his chest rises and falls in shallow, inconsistent waves. As her hand covers his in the physical, mentally he brushes back against her, the faint hum acting in place of a slow caress. The psychic clinging is all he has and is capable of. The voices talking around him get no response from the man struggling to remain conscious. Even with Kaylee's help, the urge of sleep slides ever closer, the dark notion wrapping itself like serpentine coils around his mind. But he's stubborn, as the telepath can sense it, with the instinct for survival still apparent in how long he's lasted.

Stomach sinking at the news from Edward, Kaylee visibly pales and her eyes turn back to Luther. Fingers tighten on his hand out of an instinct to hold onto him. Knowing what her father’s ability is, she has no need to doubt him. She hears what they are saying, her head nods.

“You switch him, I’ll get him to change,” Kaylee finally says.

Leaning forward lips press to the cool and clammy forehead of the dying man. She pulls back just enough so that she is in his field of focus. Whether he can hear her or not, she talks softly to him. “Dad has a plan. I need you to trust me, handsome.” Even though there is a solution, She finds her eyes filling with tears and she gives a sniffle. “Tyler is gonna switch your ability with the Presidents. Only way to save you.” Fingers lovingly brush his cheek. “Won't be forever. I think Jojo would riot.”

Reluctantly, Kaylee straightens from the cot, letting him go mentally and physically; though not without one last urging to stay with her. Releasing her mental hold is probably a good thing, since she feels warmth on her face. Wiping her sleeve across it, her sleeve is covered in fresh blood. A pinch at her nose brings away more. The telepath was at her limit. She realizes that the pain behind her eyes wasn't the strain of exhaustion and hours on the road.

“This works, I owe you both,” Kaylee states firmly if a bit shakily to the two, moving to stand near Edward and whispers, “I hope you’re right about this. For his sake, for mine, and your grandbaby’s.” It was a realization she had made on the road, that there had been two minds humming while she search for him at that facility, when she had pushed her listening field further. So wrapped up in finding Luther, she had thought it was someone else. But then in the car, she still heard it, faint… new. That moment made getting to this point, that more important. She knows Edward Ray understands that.

Even as Kaylee anxiously watches what is going to happen, there is a thought and she asks her father, “Didn't Magnes say he knew a healer in New York? Where did he take the President?”

Edward stared vacantly at Kaylee, and for a moment she sees an expression on her father's face that few people often do:


“You're— ” Edward nearly is able to say something before—

Swaperoo!” Tyler shouts, firing a loudly humming bolt of red electricity down to Luther, striking him on the chest. A second bolt is launched out toward Rickham who lets out a grunt of discomfort. As the bolts impact the site of exposure burns with an internal tingling and stabbing sensation, like being microwaved. The pain spreads in radiating pulses along all nerves, blurs vision with blinding pain.

Rickham drops to one knee and Luther’s limbs involuntarily quake. Tyler, eyes glowing red, loudly calls out, “One, two— ” and when he crosses his arms in front of himself the beams swap from one person to the other, and Rickham howls in pain. Edward watches, staring wide-eyes at the display until both beams snap off.

Now!” Edward shouts, “Kaylee, you've got to convince him to change!”

There is no time to really say more to her father, Tyler starts his work and Kaylee can only watch the display having never seen this man’s ability at work. Her breath catches as she sees Luther start to seemly sieze, hands fold in front of her mouth in silent prayer. And when Rickham starts to howl, her eyes shut tight… She won’t admit to the fear. The fear that Luther won’t be strong enough to survive this.

It’s Edward that snaps her out of her thoughts and into action. Dropping to her knee next to the cot, fingers grip to the side of her lover’s head, and her eyes shut which forces gathering tears to slide down her already damp cheeks. Kaylee reaches again for the fading threads of his mind, curling around them protectively. «Luther. You have to change. Reach for your ability.» The words whisper gentle in his mind. «I’ll help you.» His ability is there, but unfamiliar… still she whispers and encourages him to use it, putting power behind the plea. «It’s the only way you live.»

«Live for us.»

Luther had not responded verbally before during the rush of conversation, planning, revelations. With his mind clinging to Kaylee's when she pulls away there's a notable hitch in the man's breath. A twitch in the curl of his fingers. But there's barely another second spared before the red lightning strikes.

His body jolts with the sudden burst of energy and pain. The man's ability tries to grasp this strange sensation of a different sort of energy, but it's like grasping at water. Teeth grit then separate in a silent scream, and Luther spasms in a seizure-like state until the swap snaps off. The only warmth is that odd sensation that he's been burned. The rest of him is so, so cold.

When Kaylee takes ahold of his face, Luther is as still as a fresh corpse. His mind takes a bit of searching for, but when she finds it, he's nearly gone. The ability harbored in Luther now isn't anything like he's experienced. Where Rickham might suddenly sense the energies of the environment around him, drawn towards his newfound reach, Luther seems to pull away from the alien power.

It's so cold.

She tells him to live. The reach of her mind, the grasp of it around his, keeps him clinging like fingernails on a pathetic branch on a cliffside.

Kaylee… I…

He slips.

The man's breathing stops, as does his heart, and uncountable seconds pass where Luther lies there, unmoving.

It doesn't seem to start anywhere. Instead, his skin pales then greys, then slowly darkens and hardens underneath the telepath's fingers. The sensation of rapid cooling as biology turns to metal is unlike anything he's ever felt. The other shift is in the man's mind, as he's found clasping on that proverbial cliff. Determination.

This is not the end.

It's not a speedy transformation, but a steady one that eventually completes. The cot Luther's on sags with the extra weight. When he finally opens his eyes, Luther's literally metallic grey gaze looks blankly up at Kaylee. And a metal hand lifts, reaching for her tear-streaked face, but stops when he sees what's happened to his appendages.

Luther's confusion is quite evident. He should feel cold. But he doesn't feel anything. What?

And even weirder when he turns his head and sees Edward, Tyler, and the President-Elect.


“Holy shit it actually worked!” Tyler cuts the tension with the knife of his outburst. “Man, I’ve only ever done that like once before that I remember and man did it not go well!” Cracking a smile, he turns around and slugs Rickham on the shoulder, and the President-Elect stumbles to the side and rubs his shoulder, looking up at Tyler with furrowed brows and a severely downturned frown… that gradually loosens into a more begrudgingly understanding expression as he continues to run his arm.

“We’ll get you fixed up. Ms. Beauchamp is a miracle-worker, and I have no doubt she’ll be able to put you back together just like she did me.” Rickham explains, walking over to Luther’s side. “Just stay away from deep bodies of water and electrical sockets until then.” There’s an attempt at a joke of his own, one corner of his mouth creeping up into a wry smile.

Edward, only now doing anything other than staring at Kaylee, comes to move over to Luther’s side. Wide, blue eyes stare down at him in shock. Then, as his expression evens out, he takes a knee beside the sagging cot and rests one hand on Luther’s metal shoulder. “I’m glad you’re doing alright…” he says with a softness in his voice somewhat unusual for him.

But then, leaning in, he whispers, “…and if you so much as seem likely to hurt my daughter I’ll bury you where no one will ever find you.”

Then, a cheerful smile as he leans away. “Welcome to the family.” Edward says, almost like a threat.

The others in the room will know the moment his mind had slipped from her telepathic grasp, the sound of loss that was ripped from Kaylee’s chest was heartbreaking. It hadn’t been the first time she’s felt when a mind simply stopped existing, but this time was different. This was someone she loved, someone she fought so hard to save.

The helpless look Kaylee turned to Edward, however, is brief. Because under her hands she feels the sudden cooling of Luther’s skin. Bodies don’t cool that fast. So the look turns to confusion as she look back down at Luther, in time to hear Tyler shout about it working. When Luther reaches for her, eyes widen in surprise and hands fly to her mouth as she gasps. “It worked.” Kaylee halfs sobs out as her hand drop away to grab for that metallic hand, words choked with emotion. Looking at the other three, she might sound a bit hysterical with her relief, as she repeats, “It worked!” She doesn’t care if the skin under her hands is now metallic, she only cares that his eyes are open and he seems aware.

Coming to her feet, Kaylee doesn’t hesitate to throw arms around Tyler in a tight hug, “You wonderful man.” This action means she misses the whisper between Edward and his future son-in-law. Pulling back she grasps Tyler’s face and kisses him soundly… Don’t kill him Luther! Your fiance might be a little delirious with relief. Even offering a heartfelt, “Thank you.”

Of course, then Rickham gets an equally tight hug, “Thank you, sir” — no kiss though. This time, as Kaylee starts to pull away, there is a look about her… exhaustion seems heavy on her shoulders, it slurs her words a little. “I promise, we’ll get you switched back as soon as possible.” As she turns away, towards her father… the telepath sways, the world swims, and the edges of her vision turn black. There is enough time to bring a hand to her head and start to say, “Dad…” before days of sleeplessness, ignoring her bodies needs, emotional stress, and over taxing her ability catch up to her in an instant.

Kaylee passes out, crumpling to the floor.

Luther's confusion continues, given the hours of delirium he'd experienced up until this point to leave him alive and in unfamiliar surroundings. Tyler's whoop of enthusiasm snaps him out of bewildered reverie and cursory examination of his environment, of his own metallicized appendages, and finally the ones who've helped him. Tyler gets an odd look from an even odder expression given Luther's metal brow wanting to wrinkle up. Rickham's steady words and the joke about staying away from electrical sockets earns the President-Elect an equally blank looking glance. How strange is it to see a face that isn't his own bearing his ability?

Luther only vaguely recalls something Kaylee had said about going to her father for help. Ruling out Tyler and Rickham, that leaves Edward when the man comes over and kneels beside him. He turns to look at the hand on his shoulder, then Luther looks back unblinkingly to Edward. The soft words, then lean in makes Luther attune more to the other man and what he has to say. The threat whispered along makes even the cool-formed metal man seem tense.

Of course, there is Kaylee whirling in her ecstatic enthusiasm and joy. Luther witnesses that (innocent) kiss to Tyler, the hug for Rickham, and finally when she turns back to him and Edward, he's aware of her unsteady gait. Whatever thoughts he had, whatever questions he has, fly out of him once he recognizes Kaylee blacking out.

Though he's not used to the weight of himself, nor is he able to reach for his usual ability to steal kinetic energy and slow her swooning fall, Luther slides himself underneath at a kneel, arms out to catch the telepath before her own head hits the ground. A long moment is taken to realize what he sees of himself covered - made up of - metal. Luther turns a glance over his shoulder back at Edward, Rickham, Tyler.

This family is going to take some getting used to, for sure.

4:03 AM

2 Days Later

The soft, intermittent buzzing within the darkness of the bedroom isn’t from an alarm clock. It’s much more organic in true nature, the source of which emerges from the night’s nature symphony of bugs and other fauna outside the open screen window. Summer keeps the nights warm out here, but not for the large metal man who sits is silent vigil on a wood and metal industrial looking workshop bench. Unblinking, Luther stares blankly at the prone form of Kaylee Thatcher, laid out upon a comfortable bed and tucked in with a light blanket.

A clock on the wall ticks away, the sound joining the orchestra. As she hasn’t moved or awakened in two days, neither has he. But neither has he slept, eaten, or moved much outside of getting up to open or shut the window curtains, or out of a sense of restlessness whenever there seems to be a change in the way the woman breathes. He doesn’t need to hold his breath either, for he doesn’t breathe in this strange metal form. And in those couple of days, Luther has explored his metallised self, opening and closing fists, lifting and dropping hands and feet.

He’s also found time to read. Sometimes aloud, to her, sometimes silently to himself when he’s struck with a sort of embarrassing feeling in hearing his voice or when he stumbles over his words. But at the moment there is no book in his hands. They are instead folded in his lap as he waits patiently at bedside, whiling away the minutes with the study of her peaceful features.

He’ll know the moment Kaylee starts to wake up. A twitch or her eyes, a furrow of a brow as her mind slowly comes back into awareness. Then that deep breath that comes from someone coming waking, pulling in more oxygen to get their body moving. For Luther, there is the familiar lazy curl of her mind around his, knowing he’s near, her body relaxes a little… and for a moment it seems like she might drift off again.

At least, until the telepath remembers the last few days and blue eyes fly open with alarm and worry. A shift of her head confirms that he is still trapped in a metal form and not dead, she relaxes looking tired again. The realization he has been there with her softens her features into something affectionate and loving.

Reaching out, fingers explore the texture of Luther’s metallic skin, before they rest curled lightly around his folded hands. Even though he can’t feel it, he can see her thumb brush lightly. Watching the action of her own hand, brows lower with a small sad frown; Kaylee already missed the warmth of his real ability. The feel of him curled around her keeping her warm. The memory bring a glimmering of tears to her eyes, even though she knows this was temporary… it is the fact she almost didn’t have that chance to have it again one day, that is what brings on the tears.

Swallowing down the harsh emotions, Kaylee finally says softly, “Hey, Handsome. How long have you been sitting there?” How long had she been out?

There are long stretches in which Luther doesn't blink because he doesn't need to, but there's still moments where he does so out of habit and shift of his expression rather than necessity. Like, when he notices Kaylee finally stir. His heavy body leans closer, causing the wood workshop bench to creak slightly under his weight. She'll know he's awake too, and find his mind eagerly awaiting hers.

Trapped isn't exactly the way to put it, but he'd since been informed not to attempt to change back… on pain of death. That definitely is enough of a threat to have kept him from doing so, but it does leave Luther wondering. And so when her fingers reach for him, he leans ever closer. His metal hand moves to hers, trying to rest lightly in a cover. Like an exquisite statue, the detail up close is still so lifelike. Just… metal. Cold in sense of he reflects the temperature of the room rather than the warm of his original ability.

"Hey, Beautiful. You've been asleep a couple of days," he answers her question, his voice having a rasp of disuse and strange hollow reverb to it. His smile still comes with relief that she's there, conscious, coherent. It's just a little hard to see in the darkness of the bedroom. "Sun's about to come up too, not too long from now." That's when he reaches a hand up to smoothe some of her bed-mussed hair away.

There is a soft, “mmm,” at the brush of her hair, eyes droop a little as if she might be thinking about drifting off again. However, they had a mission. To get him healed and they had the name of a healer who could do it in New York.

Shifting, the telepath stretches with a grimace, muscles stiff from disuse protesting the movements. With a heavy sigh, Kaylee sits up and throwing her legs over the side of the bed, so that she faces Luther with a determined smile. “Then, I guess it is almost time to go.”

Of course, at that moment, her stomach decides to protest the lack of food in it. The growl is loud in the dark room, getting a slight blushing of her cheeks, that is hidden in the darkness of the room. A hand presses to her stomach as if it might chew its way out. “We’ll have to find a fast food joint so we can get a bite.” There is a thought when she says that and the smile falls away. “So… I can get a bite.” Whatever is behind that thought, her demeanor cracks and she has to take a deep shaky breath.

Looking up, there are tears in her eyes and her teeth bite at her lower lip to keep it from quivering. “I felt you die,” Kaylee admits finally, voice husky with her emotions. She looks at her own hands and flexes them slowly, “I felt the moment you slipped from my grip. I couldn’t make you hold on anymore.” She presses those hands to her heart, fingers curling into the fabric there. Even though he was sitting there alive, the painful moment was still fresh. “I hope I never feel that again.”

A little softer she amends, with a touch of humor tugging at the corner of her lips,. “Well, at least not until we’re old and gray. And our kids are grown with their own.”

Being of metal definitely has its advantages and disadvantages. Luther has come to realize a few of both in just the past hours. One of them being the lack of a sensation of touch. Even as he longs to run his hand through her hair, the feel of it is lacking. Unlike Kaylee, when he rises from his sit there is no protest of muscles from his lack of movement. His gargoylesque vigil over her bedside proves not a problem. It also means, as he doesn't hunger nor could he taste the food, that he hadn't thought about food either. He had been consumed, rather, with making sure that she was okay. And so when her stomach growls, he chuckles as quietly as the metal sound can be.

Until she confesses that she had felt him die. Slowly, he lowers back to sitting so that he can be on her level, gaze at her face like he's wanting to take her into his arms, to kiss her tears away. The desire is there, even if physically it doesn't manifest. Instead, he reaches to take up her hands into his, leaning forth. "I know," he says softly, "And I don't ever want you to feel that again."

Her humored statement gets a short huff-like sound out of the metal man. "I'm older than you." He acknowledges that much, often enough. But it hasn't kept him from being energetic and enthusiastic in the past. When she mentions kids of their own, he smiles a little, his turn to be humored. "Grandkids? Getting ahead of ourselves, aren't we? There's kind of an important middle stage there," he remarks with a light squeeze of her hand. At least, he thinks it's a light squeeze. Luther's still getting used to the body.

There is a wince when he squeezes her hands, not as much painful as it is uncomfortable to be trapped in that vice like grip. Still her fingers grip at his, happy that she can even do so, brows dipping down in thought as she looks down at their joined hands. Thumbs skim lightly across the unfamiliar and yet familiar.

“I know you’re older,” she murmurs softly in the quiet of the room. Kaylee takes a deep breath and sighs it out slowly as she works up the courage for what she needs to say. It’s hard for her to even look at him, her gaze stays firmly on their hands. “And, I know we talked about you being too old to start another family.” Which she had told him just as many times that she didn’t believe that. They have had many discussions like that since their engagement. Life together. Where they would go, what they would do… Just thinking about their future together.

Looking up slowly, she has an uncertain smile. Whatever she has to say, the telepath looks nervous and reluctant in her words. “Seems life has other plans for us,” Kaylee whispers softly, watching - with some worry - his reaction to the news, “Luther, I -” There is a hesitation, a hitch… her gaze dips away, but returns quickly enough accompanied by a shy smile.

“I’m pregnant.” When she says those two words, she sounds both nervous and happy.

He might be made of metal at the moment, but Luther’s fondness for the telepath manifests in the soft smile he holds in his expression. It only briefly skips to worry as she winces at the squeeze, and he loosens his hold slightly, keeping the main curve of his grip curled around her fingers. He barely nods along as she goes on, realizing she’s working up to something when she doesn’t look up at him. “Kaylee…” starts the man, almost about to interrupt. But she looks up to him, and her nervousness, her reluctance make him pause. Her whispers pull his focus in further. Several little things. But the man is primed, curious, invisibly sniffing for the words she’s holding back.

Then they come. And boy does it catch Luther off guard, and make him blink. Once. Twice. A third time, and the tilted head straightens and his mouth parts as if to say something, but there’s too much rushing up like a geyser. Joy. Trepidation. Concern. Happiness. Surprise. Wait.

“How— When did you know? Are you okay? Should you rest…” When the man’s words to find their way through to his tongue and untie themselves, the spill over is filled with movement. Luther stands, but he doesn’t let go of her hands, then without knowing why he did that, sits back down. “I… I’m going to be a dad, again,” he utters after a pause to reel in his thoughts. And with that notion, it seems to make the statement weigh heavier in his mind. A wash of doubt briefly laps against mental shores. He looks back to Kaylee, smile tempered with a faint struggle to come to grips with the feelings and push away the uncertainties.

His grip squeezes again, although he doesn’t realize he’s doing it, and in the next moment he leans in to kiss her.

All Kaylee can do is watch the man process what she’s told him. It is a lot to take in. A big deal for being such a small addition to their lives. When it sets in, her head bobs up and down in affirmation to that idea that he’s going to be a dad again. There is an attempt to talk, but the sudden squeeze on her hands, gets a soft hiss of discomfort and distracts her from the kiss.

Hands are gently extracted from his stronger than normal grip and transplanted to rest along the cool surface of his face. She can’t help but chuckle at the odd situation they are in. “We really need to get you healed and changed back,” Her voice pitched a little deeper with her amusement. Thumbs brush along alloy cheekbones and her forehead tips forward to touch his ever so carefully.

Eyes shut, with lashes glistening with unshed tears. Words spoken are filled with the storm of her emotions. “Nothing is ever going to replace what you lost.” As she speaks, he can feel her mind brush against his, curl around it… but more than that, there is something else there. “Whoever this is we are bringing into the world,” he’ll realize then Kaylee is sharing something special with him. How she knew she was pregnant. “I want your other children to be a part of our child’s life.” It’s like the hum of a fan… steady and faint. Something new and unsullied by life’s hardships.

Kaylee shifts then, pressing soft lips to unyielding ones. He might not feel it, but he remembers vividly the way it felt when he kissed her before. Vividly enough, that he could almost swear he could feel her lips now and how her hands cradle his face. He may swear that he can hear the wash of waves against sandy shores and feel how the cool sea breeze raised bumps on their skin.

It’s a bit of cheating on her part, but.. In her mind well worth it.

To the outside world, they stand there with foreheads touching, sharing a quiet moment.

Again, Luther has to remember that he’s not in a normal body. Steel-grey fingers release to give her the freedom of her appendages, an apology in the smooth alloy eyes even as he’s trying to embrace her. There is that problem, of course, of the fact that he can’t actually feel her physically. It’s an alien sensation, to have feelings without the physical pang of them.

He’s still as a statue as she leans to him, their foreheads touching, her mind once more wrapping around his. If he breathed, it’d likely be a moment for him to sigh in contentment. Instead, it’s a mental relaxation she can feel, a calm that she knows as he embraces her familiar feeling. The twitch of surprise comes when he feels the experience she shares with him, the background noise no longer a noise but a soft hum, or perhaps a more comforting white noise, like a steady rain or ocean waves. Still, she can feel his nervousness, a hint of confusion from him. “But my other…” He thought he had buried them, even though he hadn’t wanted to.

The man’s anxiety leaves him as she takes the control of the moment. It sweeps away his tumbling thoughts, refocusing him and turning him away from the deep dark memories and putting her telepathic touch upon his mind a little more solidly. He likely doesn’t realize how much time passes, lost in the moment that they’re in, where he can feel - or at least think he can feel - her again.

It’s with reluctance that he pulls back, however briefly, to say, “Thank you, beautiful. For rescuing me.” His pause is long, then he adds with a look down her torso, “For rescuing us.”

A hand passes over her stomach, self-conscious suddenly, when he looks down. Kaylee can’t help but look a little nervous and uncertain about that upcoming addition to their rather hectic and unsteady lives. It was going to change everything. “I’d do it again, every time, without question,” she finally says in response. Her attention is turned down to her hand resting on her stomach. “I don’t know how to explain what I feel around you… what you do for me. I don’t know when it happened, but I can’t imagine my life without you in it anymore and I don’t want too.”

Then for the first time she notices that he is wearing the same bloodied shirt. Her breath hitches and holds, memories returning yet again. “But, don't thank me, yet,” Kaylee says quietly with that worried expression.

Fingers move from her stomach to the crusty and stiff fabric of his ruined shirt. Pushing it up, dried blood cracks and flakes off as the fabric is bunched up. There had been so much of it, caked in places. Still, Kaylee exposes the damage he took at the attack on Geopoint. It is still there, she can feel the texture of it as her hand passes over it; preserved forever in metal until they can get him healed. A stark reminder that they were not out of the woods, yet.

Looking up at him again, the stress of the situation still weighing on her. “One more hurdle…” Kaylee swallows back the anxiety and lets the shirt go, covering it over again. “Then we can say we won, handsome.”

Luther doesn't breathe in this form, but he shifts his shoulders in a light shrug that suggests at a deep breath, rising and falling. A metal hand reaches over ot cover hers as it rests on her lower stomach. He tries to be gentle, not pressing any more than a light weight. Just enough to hold her hand there in a shared beat. "I can't imagine being in a world without you," he says quietly, repeating a phrase he'd said months ago, voice rumbling with a metallic tinge and yet wavering with the sincerity of the emotion, heavy with gratitude.

He looks down as she lifts his shirt to reveal the bullet wound, the area tinted with dried blood. Although he can't feel it now, Luther can remember the pain. The weakness, the effort it took to get up and keep going. And the feeling of it all fading away unwillingly when Death reached out for him. He's also musing on it when she looks back up at him, her anxious blue eyes meeting his metal grey. "Technically two, right?" he corrects gently. "I think I heard Tyler say something like he hadn't actually managed to do an ability swap successfully before." Luther frowns with uncertainty. He 'sighs' again, shoulders drooping. "Though, maybe your father and Mr. Rickham are working on making the odds a little better." For the second swaperoo.

“Two,” Kaylee agrees with a grimace, hands left to rest against his chest; again missing his more familiar warmth.

The mention of Edward has her turning to look in the direction of the bedroom door. “I trust in my father’s ability to figure out how best to go about it. It saved you once… Speaking of which,” Kaylee’s features settle into a look of determination, her gaze flicking back up to meet his metallic one. “I also think he is the best bet for getting you cleared. I still have everything you left in the safe and if we tell him everything we know, he might be able to figure out the best plan.” Edwards ability works only with plenty of information after all. Plus, I think he’d be interested in everything you saved.”

There is a soft chuckle at a thought, her expression a touch wistful. “Even if it means moving to Mexico and opening that little cafe we talked about, I trust him.” It says a lot, that Kaylee is willing to give up everything for Luther; even if moving to Mexico was something they jokingly talked about one night. “We’d have to go get Jojo first though,” she adds trying to lighten the mood a bit.

There's no movement from his chest in the typical rise and fall of a breath, but Luther stays close, and that at the very least she could take comfort in the hum of his mind sharing the space with her. And the looming body of his, even if it is cold and metallic, is there as a large physical presence. He nods slowly, trusting her instinct as much as her word. "He seems to know what he's doing," assesses the metal man, a hint of humor to the statement that follows with a deeper ringing chuckle.

"Don't knock the dream," he teases of the idea. Luther had enjoyed the notion a lot of a little B&B by the sea. In a non-extraditing country. "Cafe Jojo is a great idea. Jojo should be so honored." He smiles, even if the expression appears stiff because of his looks. Then, Luther reaches up to brush back her hair again from her face, a longing creeping into his monochrome features. "Speaking of great ideas," he says, quieter, "We should get cleaned up, and get you something to eat. You're going to need your strength." He glances down briefly to the rest of her body, thinking on the earlier revelation of her pregnancy, then back up to her face. "I think Mr. Rickham had only told me to avoid deep bodies of water and electrical sockets." So, he's good to also get cleaned up too.

Even in his state, Luther lifts a hopeful, implying brow that the telepath can read without even needing to delve into his thoughts. Because by the time she does, he's reaching to intertwine his fingers with hers and walking with her to head out the door, back out to the world waiting for them.

“Insatiable…” Kaylee accuses him with a laugh. “That’s how I ended up like this in the first place.” Pregnant that is.

Allowing herself to be led along, fingers curling around his metallic ones. Kaylee has no plans to let him out of her sight again… ever. So she’ll indulge those unspoken thoughts. Though she’ll have to remind him they needed to get on the road, quickly.

She wanted him and his ability back.

It was a long, rough road ahead of them, but at least they would be traveling it together. Despite all the hurdles ahead, their future was still looking rather bright to them.

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