No Small Favor


kaylee3_icon.gif luther_icon.gif

Scene Title No Small Favor
Synopsis Luther needs a favor and it's no small thing.
Date November 21, 2019

Kaylee's Apartment - Raytech Industries Apartments

The text from Luther hadn’t hinted at anything wrong. Short, simple, the texts reflected on the man’s normal straightforward behavior. He asked if he could come over in an impromptu self-invite. He had been somewhat avoidant of late, though, if she really thought about it. A dark cloud of guilt hung over him, and had often been doing so for several months since his return from Japan. It could be attributed to the voluntary departure of Chess, who she had come to learn he maintained a fatherly affection for, and of Alix, her “sister” by biological similarities whose life he had saved via a definitely not safe, in the field blood transfusion over a year ago after Alix and her clone-sister had attacked Chess.

That was a complicated scenario.

In similar level of complication now, is the dilemma Luther has presented the telepath. For months, since the group’s return from Japan, he has been hiding away a man whose name comes as familiar - Doctor Tae-hwan Ko, anthropologist and supernaturally gifted psychometric medium - in his apartment in Phoenix Heights. A hostage situation, clearly, given the circumstances described.

One, which Luther regrets and currently is trying to make right. Except, he is no man of means. He is a resourceful man, however. And in turning to one such resource, he realizes that…

“Maybe this was a mistake.”

Kaylee’s Apartment, Jackson Heights

A Little Over A Week Before Thanksgiving, November 2019

Luther’s eyes remain on the blond woman rather than the sharp kitchen knife in her hand. His posture, tense and wary but retreating. The ice cream he’d brought as a material supplication remains on the counter where he’d set it, gone untouched, maybe forgotten. It has a slight layer of icy condensation on the outside, but remains frozen in the core. For now.

Silence fills the apartment for a long stretch, except for gravely purr of Willy as he weaves between Luther’s legs..

It wasn’t hard to see that Kaylee was angry. Okay, not just angry…

Furious blue eyes practically boring holes into the man, which might contribute to his feeling. The words prompt a narrowing of her eyes and a tightening of her hand around the knife handle; like, how dare he assumes that or maybe he should just… shut up before he makes it worse.

Lips pressed tight, rolling tighter to avoid saying the first thing on the tip of her tongue. Instead, Kaylee turns her attention back to the knife in her hand. A couple of stalks of celery are drawn to her with a trembling hand, clenched and held with barely contained fury.

It's taking everything in her to avoid his mind telepathically. In fact, he might notice the absence of her, in the form of a light pressure. It disappeared suddenly when he laid it all out.

“Let me get this straight. You… BOOM kidnapped an innocent man, brought him back to the states, and interrogated him… put the goddamn fear of God in him.” Every word hissed between clenched teeth, that southern accent coming on strong, while the knife making work of the celery, increasing with speed and force with each word. “Now you are comin’ to my door and askin’ me to help you get this guy back home, cause y’all were down right fools to begin with?” The knife's edge dents the cutting board when she reaches the end of the stalk.

Eyes snap up at Luther, the knife coming up just as quickly to point at him. “You’re a goddamn fool, Luther Bellemy.” Kaylee practically yells at him and slams the knife on the counter. “All y’all are goddamn fools.”

Luther’s silence doesn’t deny the allegations - accusations - made against him and the people whom he considered friends, although now they were all technically guilty of criminal undertakings. And now he’s come with hand out tentatively, desperately, for help from another friend. And made her - a member of the NYPD - a co-conspirator. Technicalities.

His storm grey eyes stare at the chopping action rather than the piercing blues leveled upon him, and somehow Luther Bellamy manages not to startle at the slammed knife. “It was never intended to take this long to get him back,” he says finally after much deliberation of a response. The it got out of hand tonality present, at least he hasn’t told Kaylee about the wild ideas of Eve to drug their hostage, or worse. But when he thinks back to the first days of the kidnapping of Tae-hwan Ko, anthropologist with admirably lined cheek structure, Luther has much more regret. He lifts a hand to scratch at his rough beard, still avoiding the telepath’s furious facial expression. “And, we realize, Adam’s not concerned with the professor anymore, or hasn’t been for a long while. Especially now that he’s got Chess and the others doing God knows what out west. So, it’s only right to… to put him back.”

Maybe, it’d be easier if he hadn’t thought to take a human halfway across the world and try to return him like a late library book.

The anger doesn’t subside, apparent by the rapid tapping of painted nails against the formica surface of her kitchen counter. There is so much she could say, so much Kaylee should be doing as an officer of the law. However, none of that concerned her at the moment. For all the yelling that she does, Luther wasn’t wrong to come to her.

“Y’all’s first mistake was keepin’ me in the dark from the start of all this.” Kaylee comments sharply, genuinely hurt. She doesn’t specify where that start was. “But like just about everyone does…. “ The sentence isn’t finished, before a sigh escapes her, heavy and somewhat defeated.

“This is something I expect from Eve and everyone else, but not you.” Kaylee's voice cracks as she says it, forcing her to stop, snapping her mouth shut and eyes look away to anything but him. The disappointment is thick in her tone, it was telling. It was a crack in the foundation she thought was finally solidifying. “You call me family, but then don’t trust me to help before you're buried so deep in cow shit that you can’t see the stars.”

Kaylee’s hand comes up slowly and shows him two fingers, those blue eyes continuing to stare judgmentally at him. “Two minutes. That’s all it would have taken. Coulda had that teleporter come get me or I couldn’ve flown and y’all wouldn’t have been in this mess. I woulda been there no questions asked.” Because she knows him enough, fingers uncurls to stop him from talking just yet. The look echos that silent warning.

“Stop trying to protect me, Luther, you ain’t my bodyguard anymore.” The words are measured, filled with emotions that Kaylee has been dealing with sometime. It took strength not to let all of it drive her words. “I want to stand beside you to face whatever shit you get into, not behind you, unless it’s to protect your back.”

Kaylee watches him a moment, waiting to see if any of that sinks in, before she throws up a hand and says rather exasperated, “Besides, what’s the use of havin’ a telepath around if ain’t nobody gonna use me until the worlds goin’ up in flames?”

Luther wants to call the situation many things (damage control springs to mind) but his attention defaults to the telepath with the harsh tone she takes with him. Angled brows pinch. The disappointment cuts with a blade of shame, blossoming into a red-pink tint around his scruff and ears.

He only dares to look back up at her when she insists he stop protecting her. The idea raises the stiff line of his shoulders as if he were about to protest. Or, that he simply…

"Can't. I mean. I'm not… I'm not going to not protect you. And I'm not going to just use you." The man plants a hand on the kitchen countertop, leaning in with the confused, puzzled stare at the woman as she speaks of herself, her role. Luther shakes his head vehemently, his own frustration level rising. "You're a telepath sure. But that's not all you are, either. You're a cop, a mother, you're… you're important. So I didn't want to come asking you to help because this isn't something that… if it all goes wrong…"

There he was protecting her again. He's right. He can't not try to shield others from the fallout of his actions. If only because he's failed so many times before. "Look." Luther sighs out heavily through his nose. "What's important's that he gets home safe, and that neither he nor you don't take any flak for my stupidity. And that the world isn't going up in flames anytime soon, because we are going to figure out a way to stop whatever the hell is happening or what The Grand Asshole Supreme thinks is happening." Another heavy sigh escapes, and Luther's gaze dips back to the chopped celery pieces with blanked expression.

And so are you, y-y-you stubborn man!” Kaylee snaps back loudly, visibly bristling again, even slapping hands on the counter to emphasize. “You are just as important. Especially to me… to my son. To a lot of people.” That last bit hastily added, when she realizes how it might have sounded. Even so, a finger comes up quickly on their heels to stop any protest, adding a warning glare if Luther dares speak against it.

Leaning towards him, hands braced on the counter, Kaylee adds just as stubborn, “And lets get another thing straight…. Coming to me for help isn’t using me. Asking me to use my ability isn’t using me.” Pointing at herself, she doesn’t take her eyes of his. “I’m the one that will decide when I’m being used, not you, and you damn well know I’ll let you know when you do.”

Kaylee waits a moment to see if any of that sinks into that thick skull before she lets out a heavy sigh. Her head drops forward as she goes over what he wants from her. “Fiiiine… can we both agree that both of us can’t and won’t stop protecting each other,” she concedes, sounding a bit calmer. “I’ve got your back, always, Luther. No matter what. I hope you understand that. It’s what I would do for anyone I lu— care so much about.” With hope he doesn’t catch that small slip, there is a small grimace where he can’t see it.

When Kaylee glances up again, she gives him a small resigned smile. “Funny thing in all this, y’all brought me the very man I have been looking for.” There’s another sigh as she comes to a decision, a hand resting on her hip, the other still propping her against the counter. “I’ve still got my jet, I’ll offer him a ride home, any help I can…. and I’ll have Raytech throw in a research grant. I need his research anyhow to understand the Entity and Adam’s pasts.”

She knows all too well how the description of "stubborn" fits Luther like a glove. Stifled from speaking, initially, he folds his arms across his chest while bearing the brunt of her anger. Stormy grey eyes fix on the telepath's blues, a stiff stare showing that he must insist the course of action taken was still the only one - the right one, even - available. Their contest of wills and words continues.

Only by the hard swallow down of a knot in his throat when she ticks down a few degrees in temper, with a short bob of his head in mutual concession, does he slowly release the tension of his closed off posture. He does catch the slight slip. An angled eyebrow lifts briefly. He understands.

And it's why he matches the resigned smile in partial declaration of victory. Luther thus ventures closer to her, hand released to almost seem like he's going to shake on the surrender. But instead it's to nudge closer the slowly melting pint-sized peace offering of ice cream.

Her mention of having searched for Tae, though, catches him offguard. "What? Why were you looking for him?" Despite her having mentioned her reasons, the meaning behind it doesn't sink in quickly enough. When it does, Luther frowns. "The only real thing I got out of all his talk was that there were kids involved or something. And slaves." You know, Kaylee. Real details.

“Again…” Kaylee reaches up and taps the side of her head. “Telepath.” Meaning she could get more information then mere talking could do. “But… you only saw what he showed you, he’s been…” The telepath doesn’t finish what she was going to say, after she looks down.

There is a blink of surprise, finally seeing the ice cream for the first time since he arrived. It's taken gingerly, like she was handling something precious. Ice cream was a luxury item. Kaylee can only guess what he went through to get that. Looking at the label, he can see the rest of her anger simply melt away - yes, I know that’s a pun - and her expressions soften. At the moment, for her, nothing else mattered.

A soft huff of amusement escapes her after a thoughtful moment and Kaylee looks up at him with a gentle smile. Luther was forgiven. “It’s my favorite flavor. Thank you,” she says softly in wonder. Swallowing hard, she looks like she might hug him, but… she turns away and moves to the fridge to protect her prize and keep it cold. It wouldn't do to let it melt or to let him win that big.

“Stay for dinner?” Kaylee asks hopefully, after the freezer is shut and she returns to her cutting board. The mangled celery is scooped into the small simmering soup pot.“After, you can help me eat the ice cream?” Using his own gift against him as an extra carrot to dangle in front of him. She didn’t want them to end the evening on that fight, even if things had calmed.

"I don't want to see him hurt," Luther admits quietly, swallowing down a faint worry that has been gnawing at him since meeting the doctor in Japan. Since the kidnapping, arguably a crime of passion that has ended in confession. "And yeah, telepath… you know. You get it. All of this sh— stuff," he halts, scratching at his beard, "it's messed up." Which really, thick in his tone, is the admission and guilt. I messed up. Big time. Her coming to his aid and accepting the task was no small favor.

"My only other idea was to go to Yamagato and beg." That idea makes the man wrinkle his nose for reasons he doesn't speak of. She's bound to pick up on the reluctance anyway, given the revelations of what Kaito Nakamura did in the past, what happened to Kam Nisatta, and their overall entanglement with lives of the people in the Safe Zone.

Once she finally notices the ice cream, Luther blinks back to the present focus and softens along his exterior tension much the same way the pint of dessert has as it's been left out. He ducks his head, even with contrition accepted, still meaning he was embarrassed for the trouble and anxiety caused. The invitation to dinner? Unexpected. Luther's jaw works as if he flip-flops inwardly between the nervous tension into slow but sure relief.

He turns from the fridge where she'd placed the aforementioned ice cream, then to the soup pot, and finally back to the woman, eyeing the warmth but also the invisible carrot. She knows him well. He can't help but smile back and nod.

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