Phone Tag


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Scene Title Phone Tag
Synopsis Kaylee and Luther experience another day in the life of… until an attack on Pinehearst Tower shakes up their world.
Date November 17, 2014

Manhattan, New York

Yellow caution tape strings across a doorway of a brownstone in a discouraging manner to any would be unapproved entrants. An NYPD officer guards the entrance as well, arms crossed in reflection of the taped off threshold. Resident neighbors, lookie-loos and news crews have gathered near the perimeter of the blocked off sidewalk behind white and orange striped temporary barricades posted between NYPD officers and their squad cars. The flashes of red and blue alternating lights cast their active coloration upon the crime scene.

A call has already been made to the coroner’s office to request pickup. For now, forensics have been gathering evidence related to the case.

Before she’s even stepped into up to the doorway, the phone strapped to Kaylee’s belt, secured in its holster, beeps with a text. When she checks, it’s Luther’s number, the message kept short.

Running late. You busy?
Might miss dinner.
Missing you.

Ducking under the yellow caution tape, Kaylee has to work hard not to look like a love smitten idiot in front of all the guys. It was hard enough looking like she does. That last line really got her and she almost said awwww outloud. Dressed in her jeans, dress shirt, and coat; she looked only a little like a professional, so she should act it. Even so there is a little tug at the corner of her mouth, before she realizes, glancing at the others in around her. Luckily, no one has noticed.

The thumb makes quick work over the digital keyboard of her iphone.

Looks like we are both missing dinner. :( I even had something new and sexy to wear for after.
Instead, working a crime scene.

Kaylee starts to put the phone away, but decides to add one more text.

Missing you more.

The detective looks rather smug and satisfied as she clips her phone back into place. Moving to where she can see the forensics team and the body, Kaylee finally clears her throat to get their attention. “Anyone want to get me up to speed on what we know so far?”

Another officer guides her inside past the barriers and caution tape, around small, bright yellow triangular tabs with numbers marking spots of evidence. The first signs of a mess in the interior are readily visible as the walls, painted red in drying, dark blood:




The explanation being given to her starts with the details of the victim: Male, late 40s, Expressive but they're still pulling records for what power he may have had.

At first, it sounds disturbingly like Luther's description. But it's not possible, given he's texting her. Right?

The rundown continues: despite bullet holes in the walls, no one heard sounds of gunshots. None of those bullets wound up in the victim. No sharp implements used as weapons found, but they did find the gun most likely responsible for the slugs in the walls.

And when they finally step in, it's a mess in the interior, evidence of a struggle by sight of the corpse draped on an overturned couch, with a peculiarly gruesome twist. The body of the man is still awaiting processing, but she can see that he's been not just stabbed several times at several angles, but his neck is clearly broken, head flopped at an unnatural angle and resting in a pool of blood.

It's definitely a puzzle. It's also definitely not Luther.

Sometime as she's getting those details, the phone clicked on to her belt pings again. And this time, it is him.


Luther leans back into the driver's seat of a darkly colored sedan and gingerly peels a second black glove off his hand. He's careful to invert it so the blood catches on the turned interior. The clean hand adjusts the rear view mirror so that he can look down into the back seat better. At a young man's panicked, bruised eyes, at the silvery color of duct tape strapped over his mouth and limbs.

And he ignores the muffled sounds thumping from the trunk of the car as best he can. But as the thudding gets more intense, and Luther sighs heavily. He picks up his phone to text back.

Nope. Definitely missing you more.
Is it bad?
The scene, that is.


Whenever the description of a victim matches that of someone you care about it isn’t hard to picture them, before you see the actual body. It tends to hit close to home. There is even a sense of relief when the victim looks nothing like them, squashing that last bit of fear.

“Gloves?” Kaylee asks one of the examiners, while unclipping her phone again. That goofy smile threatens to return with that sappy reply. There is almost a temptation to fire back another equally sappy reply, but the view of the corpse takes away all those sorts of feelings. In fact, she might feel a touch of unease in her stomach at the angle of the dead man’s neck.

So instead, she focuses on the question, turning her back on the body, she waits for the gloves.

It’s pretty bad yeah.
I can’t go into details, but there are some truly sick people out there.
How can people be this

Kaylee pauses mid sentence as blue vinyl gloves come into her view. “Thanks, Brice,” she offers without much emotion at all. At a scene like this, you had to lock away the emotions, just so that you can function and do your job. Gloves draped over her hand, she quickly finished the sentence she started.

horrible to each other? I’ll never understand.

Turning back to the body, the phone is tucked away and gloves are pulled on. “So… what made them decide to pick you out of all the people in New York?” It was a force of habit that had Kaylee softly talking to herself as she steps through the home. Mail gets thumbed through, photos examined… Jaw clenches as she notices the picture of a young woman in cap and gown, the victim standing proudly next to her. The detective could not imagine what would be going through that girl’s mind when the coroner called with the news.

The photo is set back down and the search continues. Maybe it was just random, but there are times there is a motive.

Dennis Salais, 45, lived an uncomplicated life up until he was murdered. Registered, as it turns out, as an audiokinetic with dampening capability. Explains the gunshots not being heard. There are months of forgotten, unopened mail in small, neat piles set along the walkways, the ones closer to the crime scene scattered around. Those with relevance have already been picked up by forensics.

His daughter, Jennifer, non-Expressive, has been away for school in Hartford, Connecticut, works and lives there.

It's as she's thumbing through more photos that she comes across one particular one that strikes closer to the heart. A larger size photo, portraying a group of men and women all dressed in Pinehearst logo polo shirts and workpants or khakis. A taller man leans against a floor polisher machine in the photo, his characteristic stubbled cheeks and quirked, crooked smile a giveaway to his identity. Dennis Salais and Luther are, or were, coworkers.


The protestations behind Luther get louder. Eyes look up into the rear view mirror as the young man seen struggling against his bonds wriggles like a hooked worm. He sends off a quick text:

They get scared. Do things…

After a short pause, he adds a second text.

Stupid things.

Then, slipping his phone into his jeans pocket, he exits the vehicle's driver's seat and comes around to the rear seats. Opening the door, he wordlessly reaches in to grab his struggling captive and bodily drags the young man out of the vehicle before tossing him down onto the sandy salt marsh they're parked in. When the man tries to worm away, Luther levels a nasty kick to the midsection that curls him inward and stops the escape. "Stay there," he growls deeply, tone expecting the captive to obey or else.

After a moment to watch and see if there'll be defiance, finding none coming, Luther turns back to the car as it rocks back and forth from the other captive in the trunk. He pops the trunk cover, staring down. The other victim, older and peer to Luther's age group, is maybe double in age that of the younger captive. Blood splatters across on a balding head that hasn't lost all natural hair yet to genetic condition or barber's scissors. The older man rankles a disgusted stare back at his kidnapper. If he could spit at Luther, he probably would.

Luther reaches down and roughly drags the other man out of the trunk too, dropping him like a sack of potatoes to the beach beside the fellow captive. He glances around despite the quiet night in the saltmarsh that surrounds the trio.

The northern section of Great Kills Park on Staten Island has long been closed to the public as the NPS expects to complete their studies of the radium contamination found in the sand of the landfill used to create the man-made harbor.

It is aptly named.


Those texted words get a frown. It bothers her for some reason. It might be innocent, but standing in the middle of a gory scene… it didn’t sit right.

This isn’t fear or a stupid thing.
This is cold calculated murder.

There is a gnawing worry that claws at her stomach when she comes across that familiar picture. One she saw once before. The picture held between blue fingers, Kaylee turns to look at the body again.

One of the examiners notices that picture in her hand, noting the slight paling and worry that fills the telepath’s eyes. Stepping closer, he looks at it over her shoulder. She can hear the surprise in the man’s head, before his own blue clad hand moves into view to point at Luther.

“Hey, isn’t that…” he starts, looking at her.

“Yeah it is,” Kaylee confirms softly, eyes back on the photo. Who she was dating was not a secret. Hadn’t been since the gala. Unfortunately, this also made him a suspect, which added to her anxiety. Twisting at her stomach that much more. She felt sick. It wasn’t something she wanted to think him capable of. The photo is handed off so it can be processed and added to the pile of evidence. The examiner giving her an apologetic look as he takes it.

She ignores the look and pulls out her phone, even as she makes a beeline for the door before she loses whatever she’s eaten that day. Still she manages to think to call over her shoulder to him, “Make a note for us to check on the other people in that photo.”

Kaylee’s fingers type out a quick message.

Where are you right now?

The brisk air hits her as she ducks under the tape. The flash of blue and red are a comfort as she waits for a reply. Spotting one of the rookie detectives, she calls him over. “I want you to put feelers out for known Humanis sympathizers in the area. Even rumors. Let’s see what we can shake loose.”

Great Kills National Park, Staten Island, NY

Standing at the open trunk of the sedan, Luther unbuttons his shirt, noting the pattern of the blood splashed on it coolly. His captives lie on their sides in the sandy marshland, the younger of the pair having started to weep in shudders and tape-muffled sobs. The elder hostage stares balefully at their kidnapper with an expression filled with more than mere anger, rather, in a deep, burning hatred. The older man's face sports fresh welts and bleeds from cuts from hard blows to it, a thin rivulet of blood slowly sliding beneath the duct tape over his mouth.

Luther sheds his shirt shortly, tossing it into the trunk as he retrieves instead a wooden baseball bat and hefts it onto his shoulder. He paces back to the pair of captives. There's a pause from him when his phone's text alerts chime, and he checks the screen. He frowns at the messages waiting for him, and thumbs a reply.

Sorry. Didn't mean it that way.
Back to work. Call you later.

The phone is slipped back into his pocket, then looks to the older, bound man. Luther reaches down to grasp the edges of the tape and then quickly rips the gag off, likely taking some hairs and more than a few skin cells with it. The man's immediate response is to spit at Luther's face, but the wad of saliva and blood and mucus only hits the other's chest.

"Where's the hit list?" Luther asks him evenly.
The man snarls back. "Fuck you, you freak, you're never gonna find the l—urgh!” He gets the fat end of the bat shoved into his nose for the trouble.

"I'm not going to ask you again. Where's the list?"
"Shoved up your mother's ass, motherfucker."
"… Alright."

Luther looks at the younger man who has gone quiet, and grips the bat handle tighter, using it to push up to a stand. "Do you know where it is?" he asks the young man who flicks his eyes back and forth from his fellow hostage to the man with the bat, and back. The young man shakes his head slightly, bruised eyes pleading.

Luther raises the bat over his head and swings it down.


Once her text is sent off and she's stepped outside the brownstone, Kaylee sees the arrival of the coroner's truck. That sets the bystanders and press buzzing with curiosity as the investigation progresses. The truck's arrival signifying the beginning of the cleanup, it's her last chance to go back in to the scene to take another look if she wanted.

The rookie detective nods to the orders and hurries off, phone to ear with info to relay from the more senior detective.

She doesn't receive an immediate answer to her questioning text, but it chimes on her belt once more with Luther's reply after a few tense minutes.

Still at work?

The enigmatic answer, possibly a question for her instead of meaning that he's implied a 'why' behind it, presents a frustratingly text-based message tone dilemma.

But she doesn't get much chance to respond, as a sudden, loud boom echoes through the air. Even at this distance, there is a tangible shudder that ripples in the air and even on the ground. To look to the direction where the noise had come from is to see the normally bright and colorfully green Pinehearst Tower this time billowing smoke and flames from the skyscraper.

Audible gasps, shouts of alarm, screams of horror ensue as those outside the brownstone bear witness to a disaster at the city landmark. People scramble, to get closer, to get to a phone, a car, a news van, to safety.

Instinct drives Detective Thatcher and several others into a crouch with the loud explosion. The murmurs start almost immediately, people pouring out of the crime scene to see what happened. “What was…” Words die on the lips of the young detective, when he spots that destruction.

“Oh my god…!”

Everyone is focused on the Pinehearst building.

Kaylee finds herself staring at the inky billowing of black smoke as it curls towards the sky as a beacon for all to see; like it isn’t quite registering what she was looking at; but, then it clicks. Eyes widen and a gasp escapes before she can stop it. The feeling of dread rakes icy fingers down her spine and settles into her stomach. Around her the all emergency vehicles give off the emergency tone, the strangely calm voice of the dispatch starts talking about an explosion at Pinehearst tower, calling all available emergency vehicles to the scene.

When the emergency tone starts again, Kaylee gives a start.

Luther,” the breathless whisper conveying the shock she felt. Around her, others start to panic about their own loved ones.

Eyes fall to that message again stating that he was at work. The screen starts to tremble some. It takes a second to realize it is her own hands… not just that, her whole body was experiencing a fine tremor. Something about realization snaps her into action, fingers fly over the phone as she tries to bring up his number. It takes a several attempts to steady her fingers enough, with fear threatening to become panic making it hard to concentrate.

When she manages to hit the right buttons, she quickly brings the phone to her ear, only to be greeted by a busy signal. Cellular lines start bog down with the frantic phone calls of friends and relatives.

Shit.” The word hisses out in a panic and she tries dialing again. Busy signal. “Come on, you stupid…!” she snaps at the cellphone like it is the whole reason she can’t reach him. The outburst gets surprised looks from fellow colleagues. Still, again she hits send… this time…

It starts to ring.

The telepath listens intently to the sound of her phone ringing — counting each ring silently — eyes on the burning tower, not really paying attention as multiple sirens fire up. Every available body starts the race towards the tower.

“Come on, handsome. Please pick up. Pick up. Pick up.”

Great Kills National Park

Luther's bare chest rises and falls in quick, deep breaths. He stands over the beaten, broken man who now lies upon red tinted sands of the salt marsh. Gone are the hateful looks and defiant words, replaced by blood-blinded eyes and thin, shallow breaths. To within an inch of the captive's life, Luther has stopped. The younger hostage has been moved aside, knocked unconscious with a single blow.

Phone ringing in his pocket, Luther backs up a few paces, turning and extracting the device. The bat switches to his off hand, thick wooden end dripping in scarlet. He frowns slightly and glances back over his shoulder, then slides his thumb over the device's screen to answer the call.

Reception is not the priority of the area. The voice on the other end comes across in fits and spurts of signal, made worse by the communications trying to get through already overloaded networks.

"Bellamy! Get ba— … Tower's hit…"
"— 'cking sui… bomb!"
"I can't hear you, Sir, did you say bomb?"
"…stions, get back… re, now!"

The call cuts off abruptly. Luther stares at the screen for a moment as if debating inwardly if he had heard correctly or not what words were being flung at him. He's still debating when another call shows up on the phone. Kaylee's face pops up along with her name, the subtle suggestiveness of her faint smile in the picture briefly causing Luther's troubled frown to soften at the sight of it.


The ringing Kaylee listens to, hoping against hope, finally clips off as the call connects. But the signal is full of noise.

"…eautiful… you… me? …lee?"

The call wavers, going silent for a long moment before Luther can be heard again.

"Can't… I don't have much… no… call you… love…"

His voice sounds distant and tinny from poor reception, while the noise of emergency vehicles and people shouting at each other over sirens and horns honking make it even more difficult to parse. Then the call drops altogether, signal lost as a different voice cuts through, this one clear and present.

"Detective? Detective Thatcher!" The rookie detective calls to Kaylee from where he stands at the caution tape marked threshold of the crime scene. While other first responders have moved off with the news crews and people have filtered away either to hurry towards Pinehearst Tower or back to their own lives and cares, the rookie has posted himself as the guard to the crime scene along with a few other individuals from forensics. The coroner's truck remains on site; they're also not done with their duty in collecting the corpse of Dennis Salais.

"Detective, if you need to go, go. I got this," the young man says to her. His eyes are wide, expression painted with a pale look of terror as he glances from her back to the sight of the green tower and its midsection up in smoke and flames in the distance.

“Luther?” Kaylee calls out, when the line picks up. “Luther? Are you okay?”

However, it is apparent that the cell network was too bogged down and he couldn’t hear her. There is a frustrated sound at the back of her throat, but she listens to the faint sound of his voice, a finger plugging the opposite ear to help. Even if they couldn’t talk, Kaylee would take hope where she could get it. And those stuttered and tinny words was the most wonderful sound she’s ever heard.

Lowering the phone from her ear, Kaylee starts to give a short laugh of relief, but it hitches with heavy emotion, quickly becoming a sob, which is quickly stifled by her hand. When she turns towards the rookie detective, tears start to draw lines down her cheek. Realizing how ridiculous that looks she quickly scrubs at the moisture.

He was alive.

That was all that mattered in that moment.

“You got this, Sanders?” she asks the man. To which he gives her a firm and determined nod. “I’ll be back. I just….”

“Totally, understand,” the rookie, Sanders, reassures with a faint and humorless smile. “If my wife worked there, I wouldn’t even take the time to call.” He jerks his head towards the tower, that haunted pale look going back to the billowing black oily smoke. “Go. You won’t be able to do your job with that doubt hanging over head.”

He doesn’t have to tell her twice, Kaylee is already turning on her heels and running for the gray sedan sitting a ways back. Anyone that calls out to her is ignored. She is on a mission to see Luther in person to make sure he is sound. To hold on to him… probably never letting him go.

Once in the car, she pauses looking through the windshield at the chaos beyond. A hand passes over her cheeks again to wiping away any lingering moisture. Her phone, still in her hand, gets another glance. She starts to toss it into one of the cup holders, but stops. Fingers are still a little shaky as she types out a final message to Luther.

Heading to the scene.
I love you. Please be okay.

Because alive and okay are two different things.


Near Pinehearst Tower

A dark-colored sedan pulls into an underground garage, rolling into an empty space far from other cars. Luther pulls out his phone to check the messages, now that he has steadier signal within the city. Kaylee's texts elicit another smile from him, which fades as the young man bound with renewed duct tape regains consciousness, a faint, muffled groan sounding in the back. Followed by a realization of where he is, and he lets out a more panicked noise.

There are other messages and missed calls to attend to for Luther, but he leaves them be for now. Instead, he exits the vehicle, opens the backseat door and drags his captive out with a grasp and heave of legs, coldly uncaring if the young man's head is knocked against the hard frame of the car or not. Luther plants his foot on the man's tender midsection, pressing some weight down, peering at his captive. "If you make any other noise than answering my question, I'll kill you. Understand?"

The young man barely manages a nod, wincing and trying to tighten his stomach muscles to counteract the weight threatening to crush his organs.

Luther's foot lifts and he reaches down to help his captive sit up against the rear wheel of the car. Then, more slowly, he peels the duct tape gagging the young man's mouth off enough so he could breathe and talk. "Y-you killed him," the young man stammers weakly, but looks up at Luther with a long, stonier stare.

Luther merely nods once.

"You're going to kill me anyway… aren't you?"
"If you tell me where the list is, then 'maybe'."
"I don't know where it is! I don't know what it is!"

Frowning, Luther stares into the eyes of the young man. Then abruptly he snags the other man's throat in a hand and squeezes threateningly. A growing heat emits from his hand, which would cause a scream of pain were it not that he was choking the wind off from the young man. The captive gurgles and squeals under the burning sensation, writhing but held fast. Then, Luther lets go, the redness of the area where his fingers were looking like a terrible sunburn.

"You just go along with anything they tell you to do, kill who they point you to kill, and that's all? You're not told anything else? Why the fuck not?" asks Luther, the edge of his tone also heated, cutting. "You'll fuckin' tell me, or you burn." He reaches again for the man's throat, fingers glowing with supernatural heat and light.

The young man whimpers and only shakes his head a little, tears squeezing from bruised eyes. "It's in a safe, upstairs," he finally whispers around the soreness of his wounds. After more pressing, the captive confesses the combination.

Luther drops back his hand at first, pushing to a stand from his knee. He looks down at the young man again, and with the vaguest sense of apology in his gaze, balls his hands into fists again and drives them down into the younger man's face again to knock him out.


At Pinehearst Tower

The crowding of emergency vehicles blocking regular public access to Pinehearst tower is dwarfed by the amount of first responders, the injured and the still being treated, and bystanders turned volunteers. As New York has proved time and again its resilience, so does it do so in the wake of another disaster.

In the midst of the chaotic fray, Detective Thatcher's name has been called many times by those recognizing her on the street. As a law officer of experience, her aid has been invaluable for helping the herd the populace away from the danger zones as fire crews continue to work in putting out the flames. As a telepath, she's mired in a flood of thoughts, mental voices by the hundreds within range. Even the most experienced of mindreaders are tested in this environment for sure. So to find one out of this mess is like a needle in a haystack.

She does not, however, have to stretch herself in that sense. In the ocean of communications relays, her phone at her belt - low on battery as it is - chimes with an alert of a text. Luther's number, finally after a few hours, comes through.

Where are you?

As soon as Kaylee had arrived on scene, she was pulled into every direction, briefed on what was known from multiple sources, and started helping guide people where they needed to go. With so much chaos there wasn’t any time to think about the fact she hadn’t found Luther, the hours were flying by fast, the world is a blur.

Now she was waiting for the all clear to go in and have a look. A small palm sized notebook tucked into her hand she was standing next to a stretcher. A victim waiting for transport. With her ability, Kaylee was able to pull memories from the unconscious. Get details before time faded them like fabric in the heat of the desert sun.

Eyes are closed tight and head tilted slightly, Kaylee tries to ignore the sharp throb of pain behind her eyes. Hours of this, it was catching up to her, she’d have to remember to visit the medics after this witness.

So lost in what she is mentally viewing she almost misses the chime of the phone on her hip. It snaps her back into her body with a grimace. “You can take him, he didn’t see anything,” she offers to the paramedic, before looking at the phone. There is a sagging of Kaylee’s shoulders when she sees the text; quick to text an answer.

By the first aid tent.

“Uh, detective?” Comes a voice to her right, startling her a little. Kaylee glances toward a medic who offers her a stack of gauze and point to his own nose. Blonde brows tick upwards and she takes the offered medical pads. Wiping it under her nose, Kaylee is not too surprised to see the blood. She had been pushing it some to get the information she needed.

Wiping it more, she nods to the man. “Thanks.” She wasn’t done yet, she had one more thing to do.

When Luther finally finds her she stands among the building security personnel, looking at little irritated. Her long blonde locks are a mess, pulled up into a messy bun, thin curly locks are falling out of it. Overall, she looks tired and stressed. Occasionally, wiping at a trickle of blood coming from one nostril. “You’re tellin’ me that you didn’t see who did this? A place like Pinehearst must have cameras in everything… even up your goddamn asses.”

What they don’t seem to be getting is that this detective is a telepath. While she works on keeping them riled up, it’s what they don’t say out loud that draws her attention the most. A few of them looked nervous and glance at their superior who stares her down from his height.

It is the mind of the nervous few that she listens to while returning that glare icely.

He just… he killed himself.

Why would someone do that?

He just appeared out of nowhere.

Fortis et Liber? Is that Latin? Why the fuck did he say that?

Luther knows that look, as Kaylee stands up to the security supervisor, who towers over her, which is quite a feat considering her height. It was like watching feral cats sizing each other up on the street, daring the other to do more then stare.

Cutting through the sea of mental signatures, a single one stands out recognizably like a sleek shark's fin surfacing from the depths. Luther pushes his way through the crowds on his way to the first aid tent. Even if he's exhausted, he doesn't look it. Instead, bolstered by finally catching sight of the blonde woman staring fiercely at the security captain, he calls out. "Kaylee! Over here!"

This time, his voice is not distant, nor tinny. It's loud and clear above the constant noise of activity around the emergency crews work site.

He's not in any suit either, but an ash and dust covered polo shirt, the Pinehearst logo covered with drying, dark liquid. Could be blood, could be oil, could be a lot of things. It's hard to tell in the dark of the evening and discoloration from swirling red and blue and orange light bars.

Luther pulls up short when he sees the man who Kaylee's having a staring contest with, though, and he suddenly finds himself being ushered by other law enforcement officers to the sides of the area, towards the outer barricades. If he's not there for treatment or injured, he needs to move behind the lines and out of the way. The man resists, though, abruptly shoving the police officer away. It's then finds himself surrounded by other officers, alerted to the disruptive presence near the tent.

Maybe it is the exhaustion that muddles her ability a little, but Kaylee doesn’t hear him right away, mentally or physically. All of her focus is on those guards. It is when he causes the commotion nearby, that does drag her attention from the lead, to Luther and his actions. Relief is an amazing thing, but it can drain you too. Shoulders slump and the telepath has to work not to let the surge of emotions bowl her over.

Instead, she manages to keep her head. “Roberts!” She calls over one of the officers surrounding Luther. The man hesitates, worried about leaving the others — Luther does cut an intimidating figure — but when he is called again, drifts over to Kaylee. “Get the names and numbers of all these guards.” Eyes back on the lead, they narrow with her suspicions. “I’m especially not done with you, asshole,” she growls out.

Turning to leave, she can hear him muttering at her back, “Bitch.”

Kaylee doesn’t have the energy to react, but continues moving towards Luther and the officers closing in around him. She gives a shrill whistle to get their attention and waves them away from the janitor. “Stand down, guys. I know him.” It takes everything in the telepath to resist the urge there in front of all the cameras to kiss him. Instead, fingers curl around the elbow of her boyfriend and pulls him out of the circle of cops. “I got this,” she reassures. Her aim is to get away from most of the people so that she can finally react.

It takes a few moments in silence to find a place with at least a measure of privacy, which isn’t much, but it is away from the main action. She turns to look him over with worried and tired eyes. “You okay?” Fingers tremble slightly, as they pluck at the edges of the dark patch of substance on his shirt. “Are you hurt?” Even painted in the flashing of colored lights, he can tell she’s barely holding it together.

Officer Roberts, despite having come over to Kaylee, casts a wary look back at Luther. In the wake of the bombing, everyone’s simply on edge. But back to the detective’s orders, he nods and starts that arduous process for taking down information.

Meanwhile, Luther has his hands up and tries not to appear like he’s the danger, like he hadn’t just assaulted an officer of the law. The other officers give way as Kaylee effectively calls off the pack and takes charge, yielding when they see Luther comply peacefully to the detective’s touch. Whether they assume it’s because of a telepathic command or not, that’s only for Kaylee to know.

Once they’ve stepped away from the main crowd, close to the back end of the tent where the supplies and workstations are set up, it’s Luther’s turn to look worried too. At the question of whether or not he’s okay, he shakes his head slightly, a gesture that continues into her second question. “I’m not hurt,” he claims despite all appearances. But he’s upright, and he’s present. He can see her condition too, and in that moment reaches his arms around her to draw her in. Despite her messed up hair, he leans down to press a kiss into it. Even if there are witnesses, cameras, the man doesn’t apparently care. Surely, there are other more press-worthy images to capture. It’s a moment in time he’d both like to forget, but at the same time the sheer relief that comes from her being in his arms is one he captures into his memory. There’s an even deeper sense of emotion to the simple act of hugging her close and not wanting to let go.

She’ll find that the dark patch is just a mixture of dirt, ash, sweat and probably some other unnameable liquids that have dried partially from the solids but also from his naturally warmer body temperature. He could stand to get a little bit cleaned up, too, but it’s been hours and there’s no real end to the processing in sight. That noted, Luther speaks into her hair, eyes narrowed as he looks to the smoldering tower, the building still on fire at some levels. “Can you get away?” The man’s tone sounds hopeful, even.

The relief, from those three words, threatens to make her break; but, Kaylee can’t afford to cry just yet. Not here. Even if she won’t shed tears out on the job, she allows herself to be drawn into his arms, helpless to resist. Needing that contact as much as he does, especially after the events of the day. Turning her head, she rests her ear against his chest and closes her eyes. She listens to the beating of his heart and the hum of his mind, fingers curl lightly into the fabric of the polo at his back. Clinging to him.

In that moment, she knew everything would be okay.

The warmth shed by his ability feels wonderful in the chill of the fall evening, it helps calm her chaotic mind. Coupled with the steady rhythm of his heart under her ear, she feels herself relaxing, even drifting a bit. Even Luther can feel tense muscles relax and the press of her weight as she leans into him a little more. It’s been a long day and her ability has been taxed as far as it can, leaving her with a dull throb — lessened by the painkillers given to her by the medics.

There is the barest nod of her head, lightly bumping against his chin with that up and down motion. It take a moment for her exhausted mind to form the words to go with it, but it isn’t a yes that follows. The words spill out unbidden, forced by the twist of remembered terror. “When that tower…” Her voice catches, her breathing hitches. Her head shifts so that the top of her head rests against his chest, fingers tighten to white knuckles in the coarse fabric. “I don’t ever want to feel that again….” That momentary sensation of what loss could feel like, the helplessness of watching that tower go up, and the fear that she might have right then, been alone again.

“Take me home?” She asks softly, desperately. Pulling away to look up at him with pleading eyes that seem to glisten with unshed tears. It is a battle for her, one she is slowly losing. “Please?

Lifting a hand to cup around her cheek when she rests against him, Luther is focused on that moment, the feel of her against him. Her muscles relaxing, the weight of her leaning to him. She can feel his arms tighten as he suddenly seems to take in where they are and what’s going on for real. And the memories it dredges up, of another time when Midtown was on fire. Her movement, her words sweep him back into the present and he bends back a little, gaze dropping down to her hair.

To her plea, he nods once, slowly. And with a wary but challenging glance around at anybody else seeking their attention or seeking to stop them from leaving the scene, they get the hardest, coldest stare from the man as he ushers her away.

There aren’t any cabs available. There aren’t any cars that can move at all, not until they’ve walked a fair distance in the direction of her apartment. In a way, it’s a good thing that they have that distance. That they can still walk it, even after the long hours that have eaten up the night. Businesses that they pass, those that aren’t closed, have their televisions and radios on to listen to the updates about the bombing. Fire crews, with some help from the Evolved, have managed to extinguish the majority of the flames. The structure hasn’t collapsed. People are being found, saved. The media blame game has begun, too.

But none of that matters when Luther turns the key - his key - to her apartment door and they are first greeted by an enthused, but demanding Jojo tangling himself at their feet. With his arms full of a telepath, though, Jojo only receives an apologetic look and promise of later attention. Right now, Luther concerns himself with Kaylee. He pushes the door closed behind them with a foot, taking a deep breath, finally, before he speaks. “We’re home.”

Kaylee's Apartment

New York, NY

And now that they are, he can also finally turn her to him and truly focus on her face. Tired, haggard even as she appears, the spot of blood that she missed in wiping from the nosebleed. But most importantly, that she’s there. Luther settles his hands at her sides, content to lose himself in her blue eyed gaze for the moment.

No one stops them, a few even look relieved. If he ever asked any of closer co-workers, he’d have found out that they had tried to send her home awhile ago; but, she had been steadfastly stubborn. Even a bit ornery about it. Hopeful, that maybe Luther would show up and she could see him okay for her own eyes.

And he did.

Now everything was catching up, which means the trip home is a quiet one. Her only goal is to not let go, either by holding his hand or leaning into his side. As exhausted as she is, Kaylee is happy to let Luther lead her on. And once they make it into a vehicle, she might doze lightly, cheek pressed against the slope of his shoulder. Still all that time, she seems to be holding back, maybe it’s her training… or maybe willpower from working in a profession that can be rather male dominated. That she doesn’t look like a police officer, has always been a mark against her. So she’s adapted.

It isn’t until they step into the apartment, and Jojo winds around her feet, that a change seems to come over her. The eyes that meet his are watery and full of all those complex emotions that have been threatening her since the bomb went off. The fact that she can even look into his gray eyes, and that awareness that others won’t get to do the same with their own loved ones, it sends the first tears sliding down her cheeks. She wipes at them with the heels of her hands, but they are replaced as quickly as she can wipe them away.

Kaylee can’t help to give a soft embarrassed laugh, looking at her tear dampened hands. “I’m sorry-” she murmurs with a slight hitch to her words. “They won’t stop.”

The tears draw a line down between Luther’s eyes, the man’s brow furrowing together. He’s always hated to see her cry, even when he’s understood why. No judgment lies behind his gaze as he raises warm hands from her sides to her cheeks. Thumbs seek to brush away the flow, palms hold her. “Let them come,” he says quietly, even as he leans down to kiss her lips between the two wet lines. He stays there as long as she’ll have him. Until they have to, even reluctantly, pull away to breathe.

But he doesn’t go far. The man cradles her to him, the need of her presence blanketing his thoughts. The evening has been a harrowing one, and try as he might when he closes his eyes and lays his head on hers, he doesn’t escape the images that flash through his mind. The blood, the fire, the twisted metal and glass and bodies strewn about. It mixes in with other, deeper, darker fears that claw towards the surface, until Luther abruptly opens his eyes with a quick, deep draw of breath. His gaze darts around the apartment. To Jojo sitting on the counter, staring. Then it drops back to Kaylee. He lets out the breath slowly.

“We should get cleaned up,” Luther finally suggests, a faint smile making its way to his features. But, he doesn’t make the first move towards the back bedroom either.

One of those hands, is covered by her own, so that Kaylee can lean into the warmth, a small appreciative smile is managed though it is fleeting as her chin quivers a bit. She’s still fighting it. The kiss is a welcome surprise. Though there is nothing urgent or needing, it is something much more tender. Almost too soon lips part and she’s pulled in again.

She finally just lets the tears flow freely, face buried against the curve of his neck. There she stays, dampening the collar of his polo, until the flash of images slip past that barrier she’s built; followed by the quick intake of breath. It brings Kaylee’s head up with a look of concern. Here she was wrapped in her own insecurities and trauma, she had forgotten all he had gone through before. That realization brings with is a stabbing of guilt.

She starts to say something, to maybe apologize, but he mentions getting cleaned up. It makes her suddenly very aware of how they both probably smell. Sweat, blood, and smoke. Who knows what else. Looking at her hands again, she finally notices the light shadow of dirt on them. There is an amused sound and she nods. “I think you are right,” she admits as her body faintly aches in various places from hours on her feet. At least, her headache has finally settled into a much more manageable ache.

Gently, she presses a kiss to the rough stubble of his jaw. “I’ll go first,” she offers as she reluctantly pulls away from the circle of his embrace. Fingers seek out the hair tie that holds her hair up in that very messy bun. It’s pulled out to let the tangled mass of blonde curls fall free. “I promise to try and not use up all the hot water.” Even with the reddened eyes and splotchy cheeks, her smile brightens some. A hand briefly pressed against his cheek, Kaylee finally turns away for the bedroom and the bathroom beyond.

It won’t be long before the sounds of running water filter out from the bathroom, followed by the distinct click of the shower door.

After the day she had standing in the brisk fall evening, the hot water felt amazing. Especially, turned towards near scalding, it works instantly to soothe fatigued muscles. Even penetrating the chill that had settled into her bones, something that she hadn’t been aware of until he had wrapped her in his warmer embrace. The certainty of her not using all the hot water lessened the longer she stands under the scalding spray. Sorry, Luther.

In his way, Luther has dealt with traumatic memories by dismissal, denial, deepening the pit within which he throws it down. His suggestion of cleaning up, all of these things. There's a tiredness in the smile he gives at her amusement and agreement. With her kiss to his jaw and pull away, with the freeing of her hair, he swallows a tight knot in his throat and leans against the hand to his cheek. He doesn't follow right away, but there's a long and lingering look after her. She can probably feel his eyes following her all the way back until she's out of sight.

She might get enough time to herself in the shower, but not enough time to use all the hot water before there's a light knocking at the shower door to interrupt her settling. Luther's profile can be seen through the steam, his voice raised barely enough to be heard over the rush of water. "Got enough room in there for another?" He's not looking, perhaps to be coy, perhaps to be polite about it. Or, to just keep himself under control, ready for another denial if necessary. "I fed Jojo," he adds by way of an afterthought in keeping his mind off of other things. And that he’s run out of things to do to distract himself while waiting.

Head lowered under the spray, tired eyes closed, Kaylee almost misses Luther’s arrival through the fog of her own exhaustion. It isn’t his words, but the hum of his mind so close that has her straightening and turning enough to look over her shoulder. Hands brush back hair and again over her face, smoothing water away, so that she can see him there being rather modest, even if the images are not.

The fact that he fed Jojo, that gets a soft smile that he won’t see.

The telepath doesn’t answer the question though, but he might catch her movement through the swirling mist. The door gives a soft click and swings open with a light push of long fingers. Now he will see her there as the steam rolls out of the confines of the shower, water flows freely over the curves of her reddened skin, while saturated blonde curls are plastered tightly to her head, clinging to her neck and shoulders in long ropy tendrils.

Standing there. Silent. She simply offers out her hand, droplets of water dripping off her fingers. If he looks into her blue eyes, he might see desire reflected back. A desire to feel alive after dealing with so much horror and death.

Grey eyes remain directed sideways until he hears the click of the door and the louder spray of the shower. Turning, Luther faces her and a small smile makes its way up along the corners of his lips. His gaze slides down to follow the water along her hair and curves, up to the offered hand, then lifts to meet her blue eyes and the desire in them. He blinks once, slowly, a lingering, longing look shared. The next moments taken to undress, he soon takes her offered hand and steps into the hot spray, shutting the door behind him with another soft click.

November 18, 2014

Kaylee's Apartment

Early Morning

The streams of morning sunlight haven't quite come through the bedroom windows in the minutes before the dawn. Once more in recent memory, the nearly incessant city sounds are hushed more than usual, as if the whole of the neighborhood has taken a moment of silence, a moment for solemn reflection and much needed rest in the wake of tragedy.

They might not have gotten as much rest as they could have, but in these morning hours, Luther is taking unknowing advantage of the quiet. The man sleeps deeply, dreamless and peaceful by his expression. Jojo's curled form tucked against the warm skin at the crook of the man's bare shoulder and base of the neck gives the impression of the same mindlessness of the reality of events going on in the outside world.

She’s been watching him for sometime. The anxiety of the days to come made it hard for Kaylee to sleep, so she had lain there listening to the sound of his breathing, the more sluggish tone of his sleeping mind. Now dressed and packed for the ‘girl’s road trip,’ she sat on the edge of the bed memorizing the lines, noting how they seem to disappear when he sleeps. No worries to crease them. It seemed like a rare moment of peace.

Kaylee didn’t want to interrupt it, but she knew Luther wouldn’t forgive her for leaving without saying goodbye. Carefully, she leans over and presses a soft and tender kiss to his cheek. The movement wakes Jojo who gives a purring chirp.

“Hey, handsome,” soft words whispered, as she watches him, face framed by the fall of curls. The backs of her fingers brush against the curve of his jaw. “It’s about time for me to go.”

The moments of peaceful slumber disappear but for a different reason than the majority of the experiences; where in the past couple of years she’s known him, there have been some nights when he’s woken in cold sweats or caught fitful snatches of unconsciousness, but there have been fewer of those. Not completely gone, as they never truly are, but it makes the moments of peace that much more valuable, that much more poignant when they’ve woken up together and found calm instead of exposed, raw hurt. When he wakes to the kiss on his cheek, the softness of the cat’s fur brushing against his skin and the softness of her words in his ear, there is only a natural grogginess of a mind starting back up again to contend with. His response is a sleep-filled murmur of a response to her call, practically tradition now. “Hey, beautiful.”

Hooded grey eyes look up to blue, a sleepy, faint smile barely tugging up by the sight of her, tempered by the growing realization that he’s seeing her fully dressed already. And that not just the words, but her action conveys a little something more in the tone this time than it has before. His hand stretches from beneath the covers, snaking up with intent to tangle her fingers brushing his jaw in his. The man blinks slowly once before turning his head a little more, pressing his lips to the back of her hand where she can feel the prickle of ever-present stubble against her knuckles again.

He doesn’t say it right away, but she can sense reluctance around it. A little more worry, now that the departure time is announced as fast approaching. He’s known for a little while that she’s planned this trip out with her good friends. By her trust in them, he’s also placed trust in them by proxy. But, the time is coming when he’ll have to surrender her to them. It’s almost a routine now to feel the pang of reluctance each time he must let her go, although this time there’s the faint feeling that he wishes he could come too. Ultimately, he won’t stop her from leaving.

Though, the thought immediately crosses his mind that he’ll try to make her late. And to act upon that thought, he pushes himself up, at the same time using his hand in hers to keep ahold, to try and kiss her a little more fully. Maybe it’ll be convincing enough of an argument from him. Utterly physical, and without words.

The words and actions of the man, brings a smile to her face; it’s bright and loving. There is no doubt how the telepath feels about him and no surprise when the kiss is met with enthusiasm. Kaylee is reluctant to leave as well. There is a lot of guilt in the fact that she has had to skirt around their destination. Saying things like… ‘We’ll see where the road takes us.’ or ‘It’s about reconnecting.’ There had been a few times she almost spilled it, but the reminder from Robin Hood held her tongue. She didn’t want him in danger.

Never once had it crossed her mind to take him with her, at least not with any seriousness. He was a janitor. Her, and her friends had been taught to use guns by Judah. Not to mention she was a police officer.

So she was going to leave him behind and trust him to take care of Jojo. Which in itself was a big step, even if it was his home, too. That reluctance to leave, means she allows the kiss to linger with a breathy sigh of pleasure. Leaning into it, while fingers slide from under his so that she can trail them down his chest, pulling the covers down with them. They have time. Right?


A polite knock echoes through the quiet apartment, bringing Kaylee back to her senses and forcing her to reluctantly pull away again, her cheeks lightly flushed. Her head tips to press her forehead to his, taking a calming breath. “My ride’s here.” There is deep disappointment in her tone. She’d rather have kept going, but fingers slide away from his stomach; so that she can press her hand to the mattress and move to sit up.

Luther, upon the release of his hand, moves it up to gently caress her cheek with the warmth of his palm as she draws out the embrace. She can feel, sense, the man’s intended push towards something more intense as her fingers slide down his exposed chest. If he can, he’d make her feel like time could stop for them in that moment.

But alas. The knock on the door signifies Time kicking a different set of hands along, and announces the woman’s imminent departure. A faint groan escapes him for it, his own reluctance given voice and expression in his eyes that follow her movement to sit up. Before she can stand, though, he reaches out to hook a hand to her thigh and pulls his upper half over in a curling movement, laying his head in her lap and looking up at her. A brow ticks upward, a sidelong look cast up from that lower angle as well. “Text me when you’re stopped?” he requests for probably the umpteenth time. He would not insist on her texting while driving.

He doesn’t wait for her confirmation, knowing that she would but he can’t help but ask. And instead he smiles back up at her, speaking the words next quietly and firmly. “I love you, Kaylee. And I’ll miss you.”

Surprised by the move, Kaylee eyes the man now in a last ditch effort to delay her a bit longer. WIth a soft chuckle, she brushes nails lightly along his temple, affectionately. “I love you,too, Luther.” She returns softly and without any hesitation. “You’re my world,” she confesses softly, “I won’t feel whole again till I’m with you again.” Meaning, she’ll miss him too.

Sliding out from under his head, Kaylee bends done to give him one more lingering kiss, at least till the knock comes again a little more insistent. “I’ll text you as soon as possible.” Only stopping long enough to grab her bag, she’s out the door in a rush.

It really won’t be that long until Luther’s phone lights up with Kaylee’s ringtone.

Call you tonight, lover.
Missing you already. XOXO

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