The Disillusion Of Reality


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Scene Title The Disillusion of Reality
Synopsis Kaylee shatters Luther's reality with unexpected news, but his reaction isn't what either of them expected.
Date June 26, 2021

Yamagato-Raytech Gardens

With the city blanketed in a thick blanket of smoke, there weren’t many places someone could go to get away. Right now, Kaylee didn’t want to be holed up in her apartment, in her mind it wasn’t really her home. So she’d wandered down to the Yamagato-Raytech gardens. Even though there was the overwhelming scent of smoke in the air, the greenhouse's filtration system did a fairly decent job.

It was muggy, but at least she didn’t need a respirator.

Surrounded by greenery of various types, Kaylee sits on the edge of one of the hydroponics tanks, while a canopy of tomato plants - big enough to be called trees - spread out above her dotted with large red fruit hanging just waiting to be picked.

Kaylee’s attention is on the visible channel of water that moves along, pushed by filters, where she can see flashes of silver through the murky waters next to her. Despite their life-like movement, it wasn’t hard to see Raytech’s robotic fish were patrolling the waters taking measurements among the koi put there to provide the plants with nutrients. Occasionally, one of those fat koi surfaces near her looking for food, before sinking below the water again and continuing on it’s lazy way.

This is where Luther found her, directed there by a worried Bob and Lou.

The conversation had started abruptly.

"Jesus. You look like shit, boss."
"Yeah? Fuck you too, Lou."
"Never in your wildest dreams. Mm, well. Maybe in your wildest dreams."
"Go on then. She's in the greenhouse."
"Yeah… Thanks, Bob. See you, Lou."
"You're welcome, Luther."
“Take care, boss.”

The conversation ended with the RayTech security heads there, although when Luther's back was turned Bob and Lou had also exchanged glances of concern between them in worry for their former boss.

Eventually he's climbed his way up to the rooftop garden as well. His footsteps are heavy, betraying his presence audibly before he's near enough to speak. Seeing her sat at the edge in a pondering solitude, Luther slows to a stop, reluctant to disturb the woman's thoughts right away. A slow exhale sighs out from the protective respirator covering the lower half of his face before he peels it away and takes a deep breath. It was the one piece that didn’t particularly match with the crisp black suit jacket, light grey button-down shirt and jeans. He’d come from work over at the Deveaux Society’s clocktower building.

"Which one's your favorite color? One of the yellow ones?"

He edges up another few paces, brings up a weakened but genuine smile, and a free hand to wave while the other hangs on to the filtering mask.

“How did you know?” Kaylee says knowingly, though her voice sounds almost sad. “I like how some of the yellow ones sparkle like gold. Carl likes to come down here now and then to feed them.” That young boy is not in attendance at the moment.

The sadness he saw is not evident when she smiles up at her friend. “Hey, Luther,” Kaylee offers in a gentle greeting, “How are you holding up?” She shifts over on the ledge and motions him to join her. This was clearly used as a feeding point for the fish, the ledge was more like a bench at this point in the wall of the hydroponics tanks. “I’m missing being able to go to the park, so I figured the gardens were the closest thing.”

Leaning to trail fingers along the back of an orange and black fish, she adds, “Plus, watching the fish is kinda calming… serene even.” She grins a little as the fish flashes away, but it quickly fades and she sighs. “I kinda need that right now.”

Luther approaches when beckoned, his footsteps a bit lighter as if the invitation helps buoy him from the awareness of his weight adding to the ledge. Slowly, he lowers himself down beside her. The respirator clunks dully on the other side of him. "Lucky guess," he answers belatedly of the front half of her questions. The calm silence that falls like an invisible waterfall into the waters below serves to stall in answer the latter half.

But the deeper breath and exhaled sigh betray his innermost dejection. Ever so slightly he leans closer to her, not yet touching, but sharing a space. "The fires are gettin' too close," he opens with next, a grumble accompanying the complaint about the weather. "But news coverage with the SPOTs being out there helping is good for business, isn't it?" It's all small talk to distract from things. Uncomfortable things, and things to avoid. Although he regrets it after, knowing that she’s only said she’s seeking calm. The looming natural disaster and destruction of damaged city zones is far from that.

There is a crooked smile for the man, amused and a little sad to be pulled back into the world's problems again, even if they were just beyond the thin panes of glass. “Mmm. Very good for business,” Kaylee says, adding a touch of false brightness to her tone. “We need it, with Richard’s ever growing ambitions into new projects.” Not that she was against them, but each one needed the money that came from the projects before it.

Kaylee’s attention returns to the water and the colorful bodies below the surface. While Luther's presence is normally a comforting one, there is a growing tension in the woman. “It’s sad that the fires seem like such a minor thing anymore.” It really was. A destructive force had been relegated to a minor role in the woman’s list of worries.

“How much did Chess tell you about what she, Eve, and Richard are doing?” Kaylee asks suddenly, quietly. Shifting her focus back to the man, he can see that something was haunting her. Though she’d begged Chess to tell Luther everything, she knew deep down that conversation didn’t happen. “Because, NDA or not, I feel like you deserve to know what’s going on… And I just…” Taking a deep breath, Kaylee has to take a deep breath and blink away the sudden threat of tears. “I need to… '' Swallowing hard, she shakes her head and denies the words she wants to say, even though she has so much she wants to say.

Especially to him.

She sees a visible twitch in the man's face for the mention of names - particularly those names, in that order - that tells her everything that she needs for an answer. Luther furrows his brow, attempting to puzzledly pick up something from the woman's crumbling composure.

"No," he admits uneasily, shoulders rolling to facilitate a release of the tension there. "She only said that she's gotta go somewhere for something, and yeah there's an NDA, but she…" Luther slows as the rest of his thoughts catch up to examine what Kaylee had noted. "You mean she's goin' to somewhere same as Eve and Richard? You know where they're going and what they're doing?" Turning to face Kaylee more fully, Luther stills with the taut tension of worry and a father's defensive outrage.

There is only a slow nod and a face full of guilt at the question. She knew. Kaylee couldn’t get herself to look her best friend in the eyes, so she focused on his stubbled chin. “I know,” she finally admits out loud, her tone strained. “I asked Chess to… to tell you herself.”

Kaylee can’t help but swallow heavily and hands clutch at each other in her lap. There is a way her body tenses just waiting for what she, as a parent, knows is coming, before saying in a soft voice, “They went to the flooded timeline in an attempt to save the world…. worlds.”

Everything Kaylee knows about Luther, in all the iterations and memories she contains of him, point to the fact that the man is naturally fiercely protective of those he cares for. And yet, for all the strength he may contain, an even greater insecurity often takes him. Fear, guilt, helplessness, worry. It swirls around him, an invisible dark cloud that rises off of him the way the bit of heat his body naturally produces slowly wavers in the air. She might not be looking at him directly, but he's staring at her downturned face. Silence, the kind that usually indicates a calm before the storm, floats tensely between them.

"Fuck." He cracks through with the heavy, throat-rolled invective. Luther turns away from Kaylee, sitting straighter, his hand releasing his hold on his face mask to wipe down his face. "Fuck!" His unease shifts into energy enough to stand up, pace away in three quick strides, pause, and turn back to the woman. She doesn't need to have her telepathy to know what he's thinking and worried about. They were all there at Sunspot, after all. They saw what happened in the Detroit footage. Luther shakes his head, scrubs his hands over it, and as his hands drop back down to his sides he blurts out, "Are they already gone?" As if he still entertains the notion that he could attempt to stop the world saving venture.

His question gets another guilt-ridden nod from Kaylee. It is hard to tell if that is pity or understanding that he sees when their eyes meet. “I hate it, too.” She says calmly in the face of the storm.

Quietly, Kaylee curses Chess for keeping him in the dark, even if she understands why. Then again, she sees it from his perspective. If Carl was the one heading off on a world saving mission would she react any differently?

Kaylee’s gaze shifts up towards the smokey sky, hidden behind a layer of ash, as if searching for something. There is a sudden shimmering of moisture in her eyes as she studies the ash covered glass above. “But they’re our only hope… if… if they fai-”

"Don't say it," Luther interrupts her, vehemently and fighting off the panic that tightens everything from his curling fists to his features. The man points directly at her, the gesture accenting his words. "Don't you fuckin' say it." The arresting finger drops as he begins to pace again as a caged beast would. How many plans of action roil through him, each one eventually dismissed as ultimately unworkable.

Then as abruptly as he began, Luther stops in his tracks again. His gaze drops to a point on the floor of the gardens, upon a fallen leaf not yet swept up by the cleaning crew. "Do you know, who else went?" The question comes out quietly as he fights off a climbing, stinging sensation of his fingernails biting into his palms.

There is initially a wince away from the large man’s reaction, especially that finger pointed at her. Kaylee has never seen him like this. It causes a moment of doubt in her, making her wonder if she should keep it all to herself? But…

No,” Kaylee snaps back as she surges to her feet and faces him with a slight lift to her chin. He knows that look, the stance, and the way her hands curl into fist. It was the same stubbornness in many worlds. “I will not stay silent and you will listen to what I have to say.” She lets that sink in for only a moment, lest he try to stop her again.

“The Sun is about to dump a planet-killing amount of solar radiation on earth, destroying all life… and it isn’t just our world, our timeline. Chess, Richard and Eve are our only hope.” Frustrated with it all, her hands fly out in a helpless gesture. “I don’t understand it all, I don’t know who all is going with them… all I know is Carl’s future and the future of that little girl we have in that other world depends on them.”

Kaylee's retort commands his attention. Luther, already still, snaps his gaze up from the leaf on the floor to her. If he had mind to interrupt again, though, he doesn't manage it because she drops the world-devastating information in one solid blow. His eyes widen, the stare remaining laser focused. And if the first blow wasn't enough to strike him speechless, the second with the mention of the children hits like a haymaker. Luther breaks off his stare from her face to her feet, stunned in silence. He stands there shallowly breathing as a surge of panic breaks over the mental dam and sweeps through him, the rush of his heart pounding floods in his ears.


He utters the name, and the thrumming stops. Luther lifts his gaze, chest swelling as he takes a deeper breath. Then he takes steps forward, closing the gap between him and her to stand before her. "I… I didn't forget." He dares to look at her again, studying Kaylee's features. "We - they - were happy. Are happy." Another steadying breath sighs from him.

Some confusion and concern knits his brow. Luther shakes his head slowly. "Why didn't they tell us? It's not the first time we'd faced some world-ending shit together, after all. Like when we got stuck on that blown out boat and had to resort to—" His words grind to an awkward halt when he truly recalls the circumstances of the trio stuck out at sea. In retrospect, that 'mission' had ended with failure. His brow furrows further, expression shifting to an apologetic frown.

There is a part of her deep down that wants to finish closing that distance, to wrap arms around him, and hold onto him. But a nagging thought in the back of her head - He isn't yours - keeps her from it. Instead, her fingers grip his arms, just above his elbows. A gentle, comforting gesture. It was hard to see all those emotions in his eyes, but she imagined he’d see the same reflected back at him.

Why couldn't they - not her, the fake - have that happiness, too? It was unfair that people like Kaylee’s father and the Entity seemed to have taken that from them.

“Only reason I even know what is coming is that Richard tends to look at NDAs as…suggestions to be ignored when convenient and not looming jail sentences. Eve and Chess don't have that luxury.” Fingers tighten slightly, to make sure she has his attention. “But who's to say we can't be of use here? Hmm? Richard has already set assets to survive this, but…”

Her breath catches and the words trail off and Kaylee looks up at him, not having it in her to speak her heart. It wasn't for her to do. However, she doesn't hide it. It’s on her face, there is so much she wants to say.

With a rough shake of his head, Luther utters a discontented growl at the back of his throat. He remains stubbornly staring into her face, not looking away yet, but the way his eyes twitch and hover their gaze around hers tell of the roiling churn of memories playing out behind the stormy greys. What she says, however, serves to set him down a different path as his brow relaxes slightly, his focus slipping back into the present. He sees her face rather than that of another Kaylee's, or that of a young girl with bright grey eyes like his.

"What do you mean, to be of use," he finally rumbles out in a heavy grunt. "I don't know 'bout you," he continues as his hand lifts to cross and cover her hand gripping his opposite elbow, holding her there, "but I'm kind of tired of being a tool." He can sense it too, this close to her, how much there lies behind the hesitation behind her stillness. The feeling likewise reflects as he adds, "I want you to be happy, Kaylee." His covering hand squeezes hers more firmly as he draws her in to a hug.

Something felt different as he pulled her in and it had Kaylee’s heart picking up pace. She doesn't hesitate to rest her cheek against his shoulder and lets herself be surrounded by the warmth he gives off.

He wanted her to be happy.

“Luther,” Kaylee breathes out his name, listening to the beat of his heart. “I know what makes me happy and I didn't need other worlds to tell me that.” She hugs him tighter, clinging to him and this moment, but she can feel it deep in her chest.

The truth. It sends small cracks across her heart, so when she pulls away to look up at him there are tears already forming, threatening. “I just… don't know if your happiness will align with mine and… I just want you to be hap—” The words catch and those cracks of truth widen, spiderwebbing through her emotions painfully. The tears start to fall, even though she tries to ignore what's screaming at her in the back of her mind.

Luther can see Kaylee’s pain as she reaches up to frame his warm scruffy cheeks with her delicate hands. “All I ever want for you, too, is for you to find a glimmer of happiness through all the pain life has thrown at you.” She might not be a telepath now, but she knew him well enough, remembered enough.

Luther's breathing slows within the embrace. She can feel a prickly part of his beard leaned against the top of her head while hers rests upon his shoulder. There he stays still, caught in the reverie of calmer comfort as if they were in the eye of a storm. Until she pulls away, he's reluctant to release her, but does so.

Her initial words about his happiness and hers not aligning start those very fractures of doubt in his otherwise sturdy wall that has kept him, at times, distanced and in denial. She's seen him before, drunk, vulnerable, yet still with a barrier like a deep moat protecting a castle. Fear filled the abyss there, fear of death, helplessness, indecision.

When she takes his face into her hands, Luther feels himself torn in two directions. A sharp urge to buck back and retreat, to yield space and not fall into the dark depths of his doubts. The other is the tenuous bridge formed by her contact and a sense of hope still binding them together. He leans into it, head growing heavy in between her palms. He stares longer into her eyes for a moment before his gaze lowers to a point on her lips. "I am, happy," he replies softly. "And grateful. And it's not anything on you, but me, that I—" His breath hitches against a swell and tightening of his throat and jaw.

"I can't lose you, too," comes the most quiet whisper of words from him.

Kaylee couldn’t deny what those words did to her. The cool hands, pressing against the warmth of his face, trembling with barely contained emotion. There were things she wanted to say, assurances she wanted to give him… so much of it… but even as lips part to start to let them out….

Reality gives her a metaphorical punch in the gut.

These feelings, memories, and emotions were only a copy of another woman’s reality. They were not hers, something she’d been struggling with since she’d learned the truth.

“She should be here,” Kaylee breathes out, her head slowly shaking side to side. “This-” Her breath hitches, her fingers twitching, “This should be her moment… she needs to say this to you…” He can hear the heartbreak in her voice, her hands sliding away.

“These feelings are not mine to freely…” Kaylee feels that realization as physical pain, it makes it hard to breath… hard to get out the words. It hurts so much that she gasps and pushes away from him. Backing away so she can sit heavily on the bench, hands clenched against her chest as if that would push it away. “Your Kaylee should be here… I’m not-” A sob interrupts her and she’s forced to take a moment to fight from drowning in her anguish. Both hands press tight over her mouth as everything she’s been holding back, since the night Kirk told them what they really were, is finally too much.

Her hands leave his face. Yet Luther feels a lingering chill where they were, and it runs back from his pressed mouth back down the nape of his neck and spine. Her tone, the heartbreak in it and her words, steal bits off the edges of that feeling of hope, casting a crack in the bridge.

When she pushes away, physically moving from him like she'd been struck, he alerts to her growing distress. As he had always done before, Luther steps forward to close that distance again. "What're you sayin'?" he asks tentatively, blinking as he feels the edges of his eyes heavy, wet. "What do you mean, she should be here? What's your Kaylee?" He hasn't heard, that much is clear.

Luther bends a knee before her, and hands reach for her again in an attempt to help be a comfort rather than a source of sorrow. An ever familiar downward turn of his mouth corners holds back his own threatening overflow of emotion. "Talk to me, Kaylee," he repeats pleading words she'd said to him many times, long ago before the events that led to this point. "Tell me. Please."

He’s nothing but a blur in front of her, still Kaylee manages to half-heartedly block his hands from reaching their goal, all the while her head shakes side to side. There are no words, not while she was sobbing. Even after she woke from her coma she never cried like this, half-hysterical. So it takes time for her to get it under control, her cheeks blotchy and eyes red… she was never pretty when she cries.

It isn’t until she is reduced to shuddering breaths and wiping at wet checks, does Kaylee manage to find her tongue. “A-a-a couple of d-d-days ago…” her breath hitches and fingers reach out for him in a search for strength and comfort… or maybe for one last touch before he rejects her for what she’s about to tell him. “S-s-someone showed up. H-h-he told us the truth… of.. of what we are.” There is a hiccuped sob at the memory, but she manages not to break down again.

Swallowing, Kaylee’s gaze reluctantly lifts from a point between them, to meet Luther’s worried eyes. “H-h-he told us…” The tears start up their miserable trek down to fall on her lap. “I’m not Kaylee. I’m just a copy… a-a-an organic robot grown in a lab, made from her DNA,” a trembling hand reaches up to touch her forehead, her expression disurbed. “I even have a complete copy of her memories and everything stuffed into my head.”

With hands batted away, Luther retracts them to his side without encroaching on her space again. He waits out the storm of tears, kneeled before her, watching silently until she has a chance to regain her control enough to speak. Not until she reaches out again does he do the same, meeting her hands halfway. His enveloping fingers still feel warm, his grip steady.

But she can feel his grip tighten around her hand as she goes on. She sees his burow furrow in troubled confusion. His hand loosens when she pulls it away. The storm-grey eyes narrow briefly, and he blinks a few times in trying to comprehend the news. Eventually, his stare drops away and Luther pushes himself back up to stand. "Who told you that?" he asks evenly. She's familiar with the tone, cautious and skeptical, but not outright dismissive. There have been far too many instances of weird science surrounding Luther's life and experiences to be quick in disbelieving.

"How's it possible? They did all those tests," Luther rumbles aloud, although he does so to order his thoughts and conflicting emotions on the matter. "And how do you know?" Even as he says it, it's clear the thoughts strike some kind of connection to what he does know, and his eyes rivet back onto the woman. "So. They've got you - they've got Kaylee - and the others locked up somewhere?" After all that he had previously spoken about not being a tool, here they were, being played like pawns. His gaze deepens in its intensity, as does the man's concerns. His hands ball up at his sides.

“We don’t know where, but yeah.” The words just pour out of Kaylee now, thick with her emotions. “They have the real Kaylee tucked away somewhere hooked up to a computer, living an artificial life. They even gave her new memories. The worst part is Mazdak is allegedly bankrolling it all, if my sources are correct.” She could be wrong for all they know.

“This guy that came to us, Kirk… he’s made just like us, except he doesn't have a body stashed away… which is weird since we’re made from the DNA of ours. Anyhow, he was made by a technopath to find us and deliver the information. A guy named Colin Verse, he helped make us - under duress according to Kirk - and helps maintain the…” Kaylee stops herself and shakes her head, rubs palms against her eyes.

“This whole thing is completely fucked up,” she says when her hands drop back into her lap, curling there. She looks tired. “It is so complicated that I can't wrap my head around it. And I… haven’t told you everything from all the tests Raytech has been doing… about what we found out from Yamagato. So everything he told us tracks. This body?” She runs a hand over her arm, watching it and not Luther. She can’t look at him. “It’s cutting edge technology, made by the world's top tech companies. Robotic parts made from mostly organic material and a complete copy of her mind that even fooled telepaths.” She sounds almost in awe.

This was stuff that was beyond what Raytech could even dream of doing right now.

Looking up finally, Kaylee looks at him pleadingly, eyes shiny with a new threat of tears. “I had no idea I wasn’t her, I have all her memories. I thought someone had just experimented on me and… and stripped out my ability. Or.. or… hooked me up to a machine that let me drive this body around… I didn’t for once think…” Which wasn’t true.. She had entertained the idea she was a clone, but dismissed it. She lets out a shaky breath and reaches for him again, “Please, you have to believe me.”

Every bit of info that comes out of Kaylee seems to stack another brick onto the wall that Luther had almost seemed to finally tear down. Or, at least, clambered onto emotionally, reeling from the height, bolstering for the fall. But no, not again. When she finally looks up at him, he's still as a statue, barely any motion but for the slightest widening of his eyes as she pleads with him. He's vaguely aware of the pounding of his heart along with a faint ringing in his ears, a cold sweat forming on his forehead. Luther's breathing all but stops, lost as he is in the overwhelming spiral of trying to parse it all.

Then, she reaches for him. Her hand touches. He startles, lurching forward half a step. Suddenly, she finds her wrist caught in his hand. The heat of his palm gripping firmly against her skin is warmer than most, but even so, she'd notice it's running hot. Luther holds on to her there, his silence telling of a swirling sense of indecision. He blinks once as he takes in her face, the shine of her tears and the reddened stare of her eyes back up at him. "I… I believe you," he eventually replies, his voice carrying a faint hitch as he swallows something else down. Maybe it's his nerves. Because after, he pulls in closer, leaning in to press his lips to hers.

Their lips almost don’t meet as her first instinct is to jerk away in shock. Kaylee hadn’t expected him to react in such a manner to the news, but as soon as lips touched nothing else mattered. All sane thought and reason flees with a small strangled sound at the back of her throat. Fingers grab at the front of his shirt, and she enthusiastically deepens that kiss.

Kaylee could get lost in that moment, if it wasn’t for the fact that her mind wanted to remind her of moments in time… of other worlds she witnessed… and of sitting across from him in a little diner.

It was the memory of other women… even in this world… and it serves to throw a big bucket of ice water over her. “I can’t…” Kaylee gasps as she suddenly breaks that kiss. Hands go from grabbing to pushing him away, lest she lose all reason to baser instincts. “Luther… I can’t… Luther, she loves you.” She hopes that enough to shock him back too, even though if he thinks about it…copy does too.

“You and Carl are her whole world. Her family. You always make her feel safe and accept her for every flaw and she knows she has a partner that will have her back when she needs it. But she also knew you needed time and space because of what the world did to you…. s-s-she has been more than happy to give it to you just so she wouldn’t lose you. She doesn’t want to lose you either. She’s just… just been standing there with her hand out waiting patiently for you to realize for yourself,” Kaylee struggles to get those words out, without breaking, her hands turning into fists against the warmth of his chest. She won’t look at him as she pours out the feelings of a woman not there. “I should know… Everything I am and feel is because of her memories.” Saying those words made her feel so cold, her body shivering from them.

I didn’t earn this moment,” Kaylee says softly, as much to herself as to the man in front of her. “She needs you… and I need you to help me get her back.”

Luther leans in as he's pulled closer. Fully in the moment of feeling a relief, a comfort in the embrace, he thus isn't ready for her to break off and push him away. He stumbles back the half step, catching his balance, looking down at her first with confusion then a growing pit of realization and pangs of guilt. The push back is enough to make him pull back another step, the better to give them both that time and space to process.

"Fuck," Luther's epithet strains out of him as a tangled air of frustration and realization takes hold. He turns away, face dropping into his hands as fingertips try to rub out the tears forming at the edges of his eyes and come away damp. When he turns back to her, gaze reddened on the edges, he starts reaching out for her again but hesitates at the last request. His hand drops back to his side. "Of course I will. I want her… you… I—" He cuts himself off, mouth pressing into a firm line as he stares at the woman before him, trying to contain all that's been said, all that's been done. "I don't understand it all yet. But I know that, I won't give up on you. And not on anybody - not Chess, or Eve, or Richard."

"Can't help any of them come back if we're not here, right?" he continues, his eyes not having left her. "If - when - I find out who the hell is fucking with us, putting you in harm's way…" He dares a step closer once again with the air around him charged differently, his expression intensely determined. "We'll get them all back."

Arms wrapping around herself, Kaylee doesn't trust herself not to reach out for him again when he takes a step closer. The feel of his lips against hers and the way his scruff felt against her skin… it was too fresh and she very much wanted a repeat. Her rejection had hurt her just as much as it did him, but it had been the right thing to do. She knows that.

“Everything points to Mazdak,” Kaylee says, turning away from Luther to seemingly focus on the koi lazily swimming by, rubbing her arms against an imaginary chill. “But is it? I don’t know…. But whoever it is that took her and made me….” She slowly shakes her head, feeling the anger flickering though her ready to ignite into a raging inferno of anger. “I’m going to find a way to destroy them,” she says in softly hissed anger and a little nod in agreement with herself.

Swallowing, Kaylee takes a deep breath and tries to shake off the darkness and depression. “First, we have to rescue a technopath. He knows where the real Kaylee and others are being held… but…” Her shoulders seem to curl under an invisible weight, “We’re already on borrowed time, if they find out we know… they will destroy her. All of them.”

Luther's gaze remains laser focused upon her as he wrestles with the inward alarm set up by Kaylee's revelation. Mazdak. His mouth presses together, jawline tensing in a bite back of more eruptions. "Their influence is far reaching though," he says after a blink and finally taking a breath he'd missed after the rough break of their embrace. He takes another, exhaling slowly. Eyes close.

"How long do you need?" The question comes as Luther reopens his eyes and looks around them rather than back upon her. The next question is quieter. "How long do you have?" A thought springs to mind, the memory of a different timeline and place where he’d thought he’d lost her. The memory pulls Luther’s brows down again with a tight frown. His hands come up and wipe down his face as if to peel the bad thoughts away. "You know what, doesn't matter. Tell me what you need. Whatever it is…" His growl trails off to avoid the pit of worry gnawing within him. When he turns back to her, his stern expression softens and attempts to offer relief of the invisible burden. "I'll take care of it."

The large tomato tree in front of her becomes a blur and, while he can’t see it, there is a sad little smile that twitches at his declaration. Pressing a fist against the ache in her heart, she takes a steadying breath.

“I… I don't know,” Kaylee sighs out the answer to his questions anyway, the words spoken so softly. “I need everything and nothing.” After a quick wipe of her face, she turns back around to face him again.

Her knight… her best friend.

“When we move it will be fast,” Kaylee explains while keeping her attention on a button, unable to look up at those stormy gray eyes. “And once Colin is free, the countdown on your Kaylee’s life will definitely begin. So just… just be ready. Even if it is just protecting Carl and Mom if there is retaliation and… and be ready to be there for her when we bring Kaylee back.” It felt weird saying her name as if it was not her own.

Swallowing, Kaylee slowly forces herself to look him in the eyes again, “Then after that, I may need a couch to crash on, if the government doesn’t sweep me away to some black site.” Even though there is a twitch of a smile, there is no humor behind it… only fear.

While her back is turned, Luther studies her as if committing to memory the lines drawn by the light bouncing off her hair and shoulders, seeking some understanding of the differences with what he knows and what he sees. Complexities of circumstances war with his desire and wish for simpler truths. Not that it was ever that simple, he's learning.

When she turns back to face him, he takes in the rest of her. There's a sting that comes with the way she says "your Kaylee" to him, one that forces an uncertain, uncomfortable grunt from Luther's throat. He's not ready to accept this awkward comparison yet, nor the doomsday scenario revelations that have swept away their loved ones to dimensions beyond understanding.

She finds his eyes still upon her when she looks up again. Her humorless smile finds its mirror in his features as he leans forward with a reach for one of her hands. "You're not goin' anywhere," he declares in quiet defiance of the hypothetical G-Man sweeping her away from him. "And you know my door's always open to you if you need it." The open invite comes out with matter-of-fact, unquestioning. The man takes in another breath, exhaling a rough sigh in an effort to blow away a bit of the tension. After a quiet beat, a short glance sideways to the rooftop garden entrance, and a turn back to her, Luther shakes his head slowly to dismiss the doom-and-gloom thoughts clouding around them. In their place, he faces her straight on, brows lifting. "Well, I don't know 'bout you, but I could go for a bite to eat." Food has always been Luther's way of grasping for normalcy in the tumultuous timeline.

Her fingers curl just as easily in his larger hand, as they ever had. Kaylee clings to that hand as if he was a life line through the upcoming storm.

And while she’s gone on about not being real… of just being a robot, the relieved tears that fill her eyes and obvious love showing through blotchy features are very much human.

Same goes for the little laugh that escapes at the mention of food. It was a very Luther constant… a steady truth in the river of uncertainty. Kaylee could grab onto that…

“Well, how about some fried chicken?”

… and enjoy the offered moment of normalcy within the disillusion of their reality.

“You can help me this time,” Kaylee declares, giving his hand a squeeze and a tug towards the door of the garden.

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