The Open Door


howard_icon.gif kaylee2_icon.gif nicole4_icon.gif

Scene Title The Open Door
Synopsis A door, once opened, may be stepped through in either direction.
Date December 9, 2011

Bannerman's Castle

Things have gone completely sideways on the Ferrymen’s island hideaway. They aren’t hidden anymore, and everyone’s restless. Everyone’s scared.

There’s no wind up here at the top of the castle. The barrier that shields them all from the forces outside has caused an unnatural stillness to everything. Snow falls overhead, collecting on the surface of the dome. Nicole Nichols stares up at it with a grim sort of fascination from her perch on the wall. She came out here for the solitude, and the fresh air. While she can achieve the former, the latter is somewhat more elusive. At least it isn’t as stifling as her room was beginning to feel.

Her self-imposed seclusion means she isn’t a face seen around much. While she’s simply trying to maintain her privacy in her gripping melancholy - a situation that’s not been caused by, but exacerbated by their current predicament - avoidant people look suspicious when nobody knows who’s betrayed them. While she may be Colette’s sister, and clearly connected to the Ryans clan, Nicole is still an outsider here.

Stepping onto the rooftop, Kaylee’s eyes are immediately drawn upward to the snow-covered dome. The sight of the suspended snow arching above her, made her uneasy, and very aware of what was sitting just beyond it. Her arms tighten a little more around the notebook she carries, while she turns a slow circle.

After a short argument with her guard, the resident telepath had managed to get the young man to stay — at least — at the bottom of the stairs. So she was alone up here with a woman she only fuzzily remembers from a socialite event she was drug too by one Peter Petrelli. “N – Nicole Nichols? Am… am I correct?” Her approach is slow – measured – almost as if she doesn’t want to spook her.
“I’m sorry to bother you,” Kaylee offers with a friendly smile. “I – I’m Kaylee.” She waits a tick to see if that name registers. No doubt rumors are getting around.

Nicole startles at the quiet voice behind her, having been too wrapped up in her own thoughts to notice someone coming. Which bothers her, because after everything that’s gone on in the past five years, she should be far more on her guard than that. She shakes off the annoyance and turns to face the blonde woman.

“Guilty as charged,” is perhaps not the best choice of words, given the situation, but it takes a beat or two for recognition of that name to catch up to her. Well, no taking that back. “Yes,” she sighs out, rephrasing her answer in the form of something that isn’t a confession. Nicole smiles, but she still looks so, so sad. “What can I do for you?” She has an idea.

“Well, let me be blunt.” Kaylee glances up at the dome again before focusing on the dark-haired woman in front of her. “I’m here on official Ferry council business.” She takes a deep breath and closes the distance between them, though she doesn’t come too close. “I am sure you have been made aware of what has happened here.” One hand lets go of her book to motion around them. It is obvious… they are trapped like rats.

“Look… there is no other way to sugar coat this,” Kaylee levels an apologetic look at the woman, her voice gentle “I need to take a look at your recent memories. That’s it.” Biting her lower lips while she waits… the reactions vary from person to person. By the strained look in her eye, there hasn’t been a lot of positive reactions.

Instantly, that guard goes up the way it should have been in the first place. The thought of having her mind read makes her skin crawl. It’s invasive. And her recent trauma is so personal. She’s been trying to keep her distance for a reason.

Glowing blue eyes subtly squint, betraying her new wariness. “I don’t know that you really want to do that, Kaylee.” Because that didn’t also sound guilty as sin. “I’ve been through a lot recently.” Then resignation washes over her. This is how she can prove she didn’t come to this place just to betray them all. And with her former affiliations, all her government connections? She looks pretty good for a turncoat.

“Fine. Do what you need to do.”

The relief that Kaylee feels shows on her face, eyes closing briefly in thanks. She had been prepared to argue with Nicole. “I promise you… this place is full of people who have been going through a lot.” Herself included… The nightmares are still fresh for the telepath. A nightly occurrence of heads exploding inches from her face.

“If it makes you feel any better, I’d rather not be doing this either,” she offers in bland tones. Kaylee sets the notebook down next to Nicole on the wall, with a sigh. “But there is someone out there killing folks…. and I will feel better being caged up if the killer is caught.”

Blue eyes drop to the swell of Nicole’s stomach, head tilting to one side a little. Kaylee’s eyes unfocus as if she is listening to something. “That… it a very active mind.” A hand lifts and hovers over the other woman’s stomach, but does not touch. She knows better. “Do you know the gender?”

“It’s a girl,” Nicole says with undeserved certainty, because she never bothered to find out. She didn’t expect the pregnancy to last this long; none of the others had. It’s just a feeling. Or maybe it’s because Ingrid exists, and so this must be another - different - daughter. Destiny skewed.

“What do unborn babies think about?” That’s something she’s never considered before. She can’t decide if the notion is fascinating or unnerving. “It’s okay,” Nicole coaxes gently. “If touch helps you do what you do, then go ahead.”

The telepath’s head wobbles back and forth a little as she considers how to explain it…. “Minds are a little like fingerprints…. They are shaped by our experiences.” Fingers are gentle, once permission is given, they brush across Nicole’s stomach and then press just a little to one side. “The mind of an unborn child… It can be kinda…. refreshing.” She angles a soft smile at the mother, eyes unfocusing again.

“They are innocent…. Nothing in their world but you, warmth… comf — ” Eyes suddenly focus again on the world around her, blinking a little Kaylee takes away her hand from the stomach, brows lowering a little. “Sorry,” her voice is a touch sheepish. “I could have sworn….”

Was she crazy?

There is a shake of her head, straightening, dismissing what she was going to say. “Let’s get that scan out of the way.” Though… for a moment, she thought there was a third mind pressing against her mental barriers.

Some of the sadness and apprehension fades from Nicole’s face. She hasn’t felt very maternal. Hasn’t connected with this idea of being pregnant. Being a mother. Not really. Not yet. She’s too afraid of what it will do to her if she loses this one. She forced herself to be prepared to lose her unborn daughter because she needed her sister more.


But then Kaylee is withdrawing with alarm, and Nicole is dropping down from her seat to stare at her with wide, fearful eyes. “What? What’s wrong with her?” Abstract danger was easy enough to make nebulous and without real teeth. Tangible distress is enough to kickstart an instinct she didn’t know she possessed.

In that moment of panic, she doesn’t even think about the real spanner in the works. It’s a good bet her passenger has caught on.

There is some surprise at the reaction. Then guilt as the telepath realizes the distress she caused the soon to be mother.

“Oh… oh! No, Nicole. I’m sorry… really I am.” Kaylee hurries to rest hands on the other woman’s shoulders, a reassuring gesture. She hopes anyhow. “The baby is fine…. It… I mean she is. I just.” Eyes flit away, going distant again. “It’s silly,” the telepath murmurs, eyes squinting a little. There is no need to dip into the mind of the woman in front of her. The impressions left pressed into her defenses are there. “For a moment, I thought maybe you were having twins, but….” As she said, “unborn minds do not have the same feel like… we do.”

“It’s… like you have three separate minds, in this – “ Kaylee lets go of Nicole’s shoulders so that she can motion to the rest of the pregnant woman. “ – body.”

Kaylee’s assurances are able to assuage the expecting mother and Nicole sags visibly, relieved. Oh, just that. “Ah…” This is awkward. “I see you’ve met Howard.” But how does she even begin to explain it? She closes her eyes, listening to the other voice in her head.

Could you not maybe?

The second resident in her head isn’t all that happy with the situation they’ve found themselves in. For all her near constant state of sorrow, Nicole holds onto that optimism that what she did wasn’t wrong. It just… didn’t turn out the way she had hoped.

“It’s… Complicated. Go ahead and…” She waves her hand in front of her face vaguely, unsure of the word she even wants. “I think if you take a look at my memories, you’ll understand.”

“Howard?” Kaylee looks a little perplexed; yet, her words expose her curiosity. The name seems familiar, but she doesn't know why.

Thin fingers start to reach, but the telepath stops herself, fighting that desire to take the woman up on her offer. “You don’t have to let me do that, ” the woman says, feeling the need to clarify that it is probably none of her damn business. “I only need to look back few days, to when the murder happened.”

Curiosity is a failing of Kaylee’s personality, but she has learned to curb it some over the years, since leaving Adam’s side.

“It’s okay,” Nicole reiterates, patient in the face of Kaylee’s hesitance. “I don’t know how to even explain it, so it’s just easier this way.” And, frankly, she’s tired of repeating the same explanation to the people who have deserved it from her. And given her unique situation and Kaylee’s required role, that puts her on the list of deserving.

Nicole rests her arm across her swollen belly and closes her eyes. She thinks about the fact that her child has thoughts of her own already, even if they’re just notions and feelings, somehow. Something inside of her stings a little at that, and she pushes it down like she always has. Then, she concentrates on the events in Alaska, on how she wound up like this, ready to make this as easy for Kaylee as possible.

The willingness of Nicole to show her, it touches Kaylee a little, since most times people like their secrets. A soft smile touches that telepath’s lips. Very few people give freely of their memories, so she sees it as a sort of gift.

“Thank you.” She means it.

With her eyes closed, Nicole won’t see the approach of Kaylee’s hands, but she we feel when the pads of the telepath’s fingers touch her temples. Then Kaylee’s own blue-eyes slide shut as she opens her defenses enough to search the woman’s mind. What she is greeted with, makes the telepath gasp out loud.

It catches the attention of the guard who’s head peeks up above the stairs for a moment, with a look of worry.

Mental fingers slide along the event, which to her is like a reel of film. «That…. is amazing.» The memories are stop suddenly as Howard comes into view, the face familiar somehow, but she cannot place it right away. «That’s Howard?» She asks it even, though she knows the answer.

«Yes.» Nicole sounds the affirmative within her mind. It’s strange feeling someone else’s eyes on her memories, but this is so much simpler. There’s a relief that lowers what remains of her instinctive defenses, and allows her physical posture to relax.

Pain, shiny metal, plastic-wrapped limbs cut into with scalpels; Kaylee is suddenly tugged into a mindscape not of Nicole’s making. Panic-sense of limbs restrained, heart-rate racing, drills boring through bone, intravenous fluids, the beep of heart-rate monitors spiking. There’s masked doctors all around her, there’s an observation room and Richard Cardinal’s silhouette in the window, gray-haired and old.

Kaylee feels her bone ache, she sees metal rods inserted thrrugh holes in her limbs. Flesh splayed open, circuitry woven around veins, electrodes stapled to muscle. The pain shoots up her body, and then when it seems like this torture is enough, copper clamps are attached to where the rods protrude from her limbs.

They electrocute her.

Get out! Get out! Get out! Get out!

The voice screams into Kaylee’s mind, like a voice emanating from the static pops and cracks of a live wire grounding out on metal.

Get out! Get out! Get out! Get out!

The telepath knows the exact moment that she opens herself too much to Nicole, yanked into the mind of her passenger. «No!» Is the only protest she manages before she’s in the memory.

She tries really hard not to be caught unaware when she does this sort of mind meld. It is a two way street, if she isn’t careful, the other person will see her own thought. She should be apart from it, but she isn’t…. She is a part of it.

«Richard?» Kaylee mind latching onto something familiar as she tries to push herself away, to distance herself. «Brother.» hisses right after it, invoking recent memories of the family dinner the four Ray siblings had.

She tries to pull away, but she still ends up feeling the electricity course through her…. Howard’s body. Even as he screams for her to get out, Kaylee is screaming at him to «Let go!»
With a cry of pain, Kaylee’s fingers tear away from Nicole’s temples, clutched to her as if wounded; the action sends her stumbling back. Hunched over, she takes a few moments to calm her beating heart. Then she hears it… the approach of booted feet. For the moment, her thoughts are not on the mind in Nicole’s body.

Turning, with hands up, Kaylee manages to stop her guard. Her hands slap against his chest, as he about runs into her. “Stop! It’s okay!”

The guard is focuses on Nicole, though how, in his mind, a pregnant woman could hurt anyone – youth… to be so naïve – “But I heard you—”

“It’s fine.” It was Kaylee’s fault this was happening right now, or at least in her mind. So she employs something she rarely uses; hates using it really. This was an emergency. «It’sss fine.» The words are silky smooth against the guards mind. Subtle, but it works quickly to get him to calm down. “It was nothing.” «Nothing.» It works though, the guard’s whole body seems to relax.

Kaylee finally relaxes herself, there is a sort of command to her voice that isn’t backed up by her ability —this time, “I told you to wait for me at the bottom of the stairs. She and I are not through, yet.” The guard’s brows furrow, but he reluctantly…. With a warning glance to Nicole, retreats again.

By now, Nicole is used to the sensation of electricity crackling inside of her head, sounding in her ears. She’s not used to seeing memories that aren’t hers, however. It’s confusing at first, because this is not her own story. This is not what she was trying to give to Kaylee. But she understands slowly, and with horror, as she watches just what was done to Howard play out before her like a movie.

She doesn’t feel the pain that he remembers. Doesn’t feel it like Kaylee does. But she does feel the terror, and she feels anger for what was done. And she also thinks about how easily that could have been her. She’s a conductor. If the people who’d gotten their hands on her sister had taken her—

Well, she’d been prepared to offer her life for Colette’s before the Ferry showed up to keep her from making her journey to Mount Natazhat a suicide mission.

When Howard finally manages to shove the telepath out of their collective consciousness, Nicole reaches out her hands to steady the other woman, holding her shoulders with a firm grip. I’ve got you. It’s going to be okay. She may not be maternal, but Nicole Nichols is a protector. The possible threat Kaylee’s guard represents isn’t even registered on the scale of things that are worth getting scared about. Nicole can handle herself, and she can handle him.

Thankfully for all of them, so can Kaylee. When he retreats, Nicole is relieved, brushing her hands down the blonde’s arms slowly until the fall away. “Are you okay?”

Howard? Please— God, I had no idea. She knows her passenger is not okay after all that.

What the fuck was that? Who was that? You had a fucking telepath in my head— your— a fucking telepath! By that, Nicole is suddenly aware that Howard isn't aware of everything going on outside of her mind.

They made me train, Nicole! Seven months of training against telepathic intrusion! We had to keep the mask up! Seven months! He's wild, tempestuous, and Nicole’s hands start to spark with electricity that she can’t control They're not getting our secrets! I'll— we’ll fucking murder them all! They can't know! Can't know the future! Electricity snaps from Nicole’s hip, grounds out on the floor. More arcs come off of her shoulders and back and arc to the walls.

“Yeah… I’m sorry. I –” Kaylee looks a little flustered and frustrated at herself “—he caught me off guar—” The first spark of electricity arcs away from Nicole and the telepath jumps a little in surprise.

Even now she can feel him battering away against her mental shield. He doesn’t seem happy. The next arc, sends her scurrying back away from the other woman. “What’s…. what’s going on?” There is a nervous look sent back to the stairs, her nudge might not last in the face of this. An arc, lands near her foot and Kaylee side steps away, moving towards the stairs. “Nicole… are you —?”

She doesn’t leave though, Kaylee can’t just leave her up here like this.

Nicole knows what it feels like when she’s about to release some of the electricity stored within her. Before it can leap from her, she’s backing away from Kaylee until she hits the wall behind her with her hips and wobbles a moment. “Stay back! I- I can’t—”

This is terrifying. She may not have known how to use her ability when she first acquired it, but she never once had it go out of control. She’d never had lightning go snapping off of her without intending it. A few static shocks like a person might get when flipping a lightswitch after dragging stockinged feet over carpet, but nothing like this.

“Get back. Get out! It’s not safe!” It never occurred to Nicole that Howard wouldn’t be aware of everything she sees and does. She just assumed he was a captive audience. She never bothered to ask. “You have to— I can’t protect you!”

But she can protect him. Nicole will never stop trying to protect him. Howard! She wasn’t trying to fight you. She’s not your enemy! Please, you’re going to hurt someone! And it might be her.

We can't trust telepathy! If they find out we've come from the future it could ruin everything! Benji! Benji they've got a telepath! We've got to — we — Calvin? Hannah? Hhhhwhere is — why is it so cold?

Arcs of electricity continue to snap off of Nicole, and she can feel Howard’s anxiety, his fear, that rabbit-instinct of a panic attack emphasized by the incongruity of his bodiless state.

Mom? Mom where are you!? I — I have to save you! S-Sable!? S-someone!? H-help me, I can't feel my hands!

It’s hard not to hear that poor tortured mind, Kaylee feels her own distress at the sensation of it battering away at the edges of her conscious. She searches her own mind and then makes a decision; especially, since she can already tell that Nicole’s mind is locked down. Kaylee takes a deep breath, snatches up her notebook, and says “I’ll mark you as cleared.”

There is a moment of hesitation, like she wants to help, but clearly….

Regret tinges her expression as she turns to leave, feeling a little helpless as she heads down the stairs. Hopefully, out of sight… out of mind. Of course, those images of her brother… Richard are going to haunt her a little while longer.

Nicole drops to her knees, bracing her palms on the floor beneath her. When she can feel Kaylee probing at her mind, and finding the doors slammed shut, she looks up with those glowing eyes of hers, the electricity coursing through her visibly and snapping dangerously. It’s a warning. Stay the hell away from them. When the telepath retreats, she turns her focus back inward.

Howard. Howard, listen to my voice, honey. I’m here, okay? You’re not alone. Your mother is safe. You saved her. We did it. Together. Listen to me and try to calm down. I’m here. You’re safe. He isn’t. It’s going to be okay. It isn’t.

The anger and fear flow through her just as assuredly as the currents jumping from her. God, what has she done to him? Would he have been better off if she had just let him die? Now, she can’t do that. So she has to do whatever is necessary to protect him. Even from himself. Nicole’s fingers curl into her dark hair which is standing on end from all the static charge in the air. Fingernails scratch over scalp as she tries to think of what she can do to help.

With her eyes shut, she decides to think hard about something good. Something safe. Something that might bring him back to himself. She pictures a little girl with a head of blonde curls and eyes so very, very blue. Her little princess. A little girl who grows up into a so very, very intelligent young woman. Fierce, in her own way, and brave.

Howard, think of Ingrid.


Howard’s mental voice cuts out almost immediately, there’s a buzz in the background, a hum. Then, with a sound that can only be identified as an electrified sob, Howard blurts out. Ingrid is such a nice name.

Ingrid. Annie.


And then, silence.

Howard? Nicole’s eyes snap open and she looks around herself as though she might see him in the periphery of her vision or something. Having a mental passenger is a strangely tangible thing.

No, no, no. She can’t be losing him. Her hands splayed out in front of her, no longer throwing bolts of electricity off of herself, she summons her power on her own now, trying to recall him. Bring him back to the surface. Something.


Oh, God.

It takes a moment of silence, a moment where all she can hear is her heartbeat, but Nicole feels Howard in her veins and under her skin. He's an electromagnetic tingle, demagnetizing her credit cards, shocking her on every metal surface, short-circuiting her phones.

Slowly, Nicole sags with relief, coming to rest against the wall at her back again and feeling so unbelievably exhausted. “I’m sorry, Howard…”

He's still there, the hum in her bones. Quiet, now. Resting.

I promise, I’ll never let that happen to you again.

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