Waffling Over Waffles


aman_icon.gif kaylee6_icon.gif

Scene Title Waffling Over Waffles
Synopsis Aman and Kaylee catch up over brunch, touching on topics ranging from personal to world-ending. More often, both at the same time.
Date April 20, 2021


"You seemed like you could use the night out," was Aman's explanation when he showed up insisting she should come out for a few harmless waffles and drinks. Rightfully speaking, it's not even night yet, the sun barely golding in the sky. The atmosphere of Brenda's Bar and Griddle is intended to provide no pressure, capable of being as relaxed or serious as things need to be.

It's cozy, which he likes. Its versatility in being both a non-alcoholic joint or a bar depending on which side of the menu you flip to is definitely another thing he doesn't mind at all.

He relates, in that regard.

"I can't lie, this is definitely part apology for… everything that happened the other day," when she found him in Odessa's Raytech apartment knee-deep in everything so far beyond him, "but mostly just to check in on you. It's been a while, and I wasn't sure how you were. Better, worse… other." He lifts his shoulders in a shrug, arms folded against the side of their little square they're sharing in the back corner of the restaurant— a darker one, in case she needed that.

"You doing okay?" Aman asks sincerely.

Kaylee was quietly picking at the plate of waffles that had been set before her with her fork, shredding one end with a lost look on her face. As she expected of the friends she knew in another life and who owned the restaurant, the waffles had been dusted with powdered sugar, doused in syrup before being topped with some strawberries.

When the question is directed to her Kaylee’s eyes focus upward, though her pose doesn’t change much, her chin resting on the palm of her curled hand.

A sigh escapes her and Kaylee straightens in her seat, giving him an apologetic look. “To be honest, I’ve been better. Just… a lot of stuff’s been going on and… it’s been… overwhelming.” Setting down her fork, she starts to tick things off on her fingers, “My brother and Luther’s adopted daughter, plus a few others are going away on a long dangerous mission, Luther’s going to be super depressed about it, I might not even be me… just some synthetic copy… all the while my real body is probably plugged into some computer.”

Picking up her fork, Kaylee adds, “On top of it all, my mother shows up again after 7 years and wants to meet, which I agreed to.” She looks uncertain what to think about that.

"Um, wow, okay."

Aman abandons his own fork, dabbing at his mouth with his napkin while he chews quickly. "Yeah, overwhelming's a word for it. Any one of those things alone would be…" He tries not to qualify it, shaking his head.

"From… last to first, then," he decides. "I take it you're not on good terms with your mom? Do you even want to see her?" It sounds like sacrilege out of his mouth for how tight he is with his own family, but he slowly cautions, "You aren't obligated to see her. If she didn't do right by you in the past… you're under no obligation to just put all of that under a rug."

“She… was not a great mother, no,” Kaylee confirms, giving Aman a sad smile. “Granny ended up dragging me to Kentucky and raised me. Mom followed and… it was a strained relationship.” She sighs, picking up a strawberry and pops it in her mouth.

“However, something she said makes me think something happened when I was little. Something involving another telepath. He did something to her and me.” There is some uncertainty in Kaylee’s eyes. “I need answers, Amanvir. I have almost no memory of my childhood. That makes it worth it.

“And who knows, it’s been awhile… maybe she’s changed.” Kaylee doesn’t even try to hide the hope.

"That'd be nice, wouldn't it?" He allows his mouth to curve up in a small, hopeful smile of his own for her sake. "But you know her best. You know how likely it is that she's really changed in the end. Listen to your head while you're following your heart." Aman looks down to his food for a moment while he contemplates the matter of the other telepath. "I'm trying to think… if I know anybody off the top of my head who'd be able to help… I don't think the type of telepathy I held for that college student in the past would help. She was convinced it was basically mind radar only, basically."

He rolls his lip, chewing on it in thought before he decides to stab another syrup-soaked bite of waffle to chew over instead.

"If you need someone to be there with you, some third party, though— don't hesitate to ask. I'll go even if all you want me to do is drive and stay outside." He smiles more with his eyes than his mouth, not trusting that he's completely done away with his bite yet.

"Which brings us to the…" Try as he might, Aman can't keep an entirely poker face at the topic, expression falling little. "Concern you're a…" He heard her just fine before, he just isn't sure he has the words to regurgitate what she's said in a way that can soften it at all. He clears his throat. "Why do you think that? You all had strokes for crying out loud. I saw all the signs of it— the seizure that Isaac had, too— firsthand. There's no way…"

"Right?" he wonders hesitantly, not trying to shut her down, but understand. He glances back to Kaylee, hoping his foot hasn't jammed itself too far into his mouth yet.

For one, it'll taste terrible paired with the sweet confections they're enjoying.

Kaylee doesn’t answer about her mom, because she just simply doesn’t know. There may be a small shake of her head, but there is uncertainty there.

That is small potatoes compared to the other thing stressing her out. “It’s kinda complicated,” Kaylee grimaces. “It’s a lot of things… intel… that’s dropped into my lap lately.” Glancing around them, Kaylee moves the waffles just enough so she can lean closer and lower her voice. “Richard was approached by someone who found themselves in the allegedly unknown position of developing some of the tech within this body.” She motions to herself of course.

“Some members of Wolfhound found files for the development of technologies that can map and duplicate a person's mind and tech that a person can be plugged into.” Kaylee lets out her breath, calling the beginning flutters of fear in her stomach. Kaylee sighs and cuts at the waffle with the edge of her fork. “With everything Raytech and Yamagato discovered on top of it… It’s hard to hold onto the hope that I’m me… or this body connected to me…. her…. “

Aman reaches out to lay his hand over Kaylee's when she sinks into the nervous starts and stops, finding his own ability to be calm and steady in the face of her uncertainties. "You're you, okay?" he insists to her simply. "The same woman who came and chased me down when I was ready to give up my life here in New York." His thumb brushes over the back of her hand before he pulls back— she's eating, theoretically, after all. Wouldn't want to get in the way.

"You're the same you who was worried about me getting in over my head a year ago. Whatever happened leading up to that plane crash, whatever was done to you… I don't think it's stolen you from you." He leans back, hand lifting up defensively as he admits, "Don't get me wrong, the whole 'you might be you, just driving a fake meatsuit' thing is terrifying, but…"

Spending only a moment thinking on that, Aman shrugs easily. "I don't think it makes you less you. For whatever that's worth. Don't you think we'd have noticed by now if you weren't? If not me, then Luther— your family."

There is a moment where Kaylee starts to say something, but instead shoves a forkful of waffle into her mouth. It gives her time to think about what he’s said. Sometimes, it was nice to have the perspective of someone still new to it all. An optimist.

“But what if I’m just a copy?” Kaylee asks after she’s finished with that bite. “If my brain was created from a scan… This body is what? Just over a year old? Then anything before that.. It’s not really mine.” She watches him. “Is it?”

There is a shake of her head, as she says, “I’m just….” Kaylee's eyes close against the pain of ‘what if’s’ and ‘what could be’s.’ “Overwhelmed.” When eyes open again, there are tears there, though they do not fall.

"If you're a copy, you're a damn good one, I'd argue, and that's got to count for something," Aman argues bluntly. Maybe he doesn't believe in the possibility of her inhumanity, or maybe he just refuses to sink into the horror of the possibility of it. "You have all these memories, all the things that make you you still… right?"

"Except your ability," he acknowledges with a tender fall of his voice. He'd be remiss not to mention that.

"If there's anything that might be able to confirm for you if you're you or not, it's what happens when you dig into those memories from your childhood. If another telepath can help you uncover whatever it is you've forgotten, I'd say that's a pretty big mark in favor of your humanity. If there's nothing, because the memory just wasn't written, then it is what it is."

Aman shakes his head quickly at that. "A-and for that matter, even if there is another you out there, the you that's still got your ability— we find her. We help get her safe. Home. And then whatever is yours or not yours is decided by you and her and no one else." His brow knits, meal forgotten. "This is weird and new, and I'm still wrapping my head around it quite frankly, but I'll fucking fight anyone who thinks it should be handled otherwise, Kaylee."

A hand covers Kaylee’s mouth as she listens, but it’s not what he thinks. When he’s off his soapbox, there is a stifled laugh behind that hand, even if there are tears escaping the corners of her eyes. “Sorry…” It’s obvious that she feels bad about the laugh. “It’s just…” She wipes at the corners of her eyes. “You’re cute when you get all righteous like that. Just sayin’.”

There is appreciation in that smile Kaylee gives him. “Trust me, it’s been overwhelming for me too. I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was nervous how this all might go down. I’m trying to hold onto hope I’m not just a complete copy… I am.”

Taking a deep breath, Kaylee gives herself a little shake, as if she could shake off the dreary feelings. Not so easy really. “We’ll find my body. I know it and with hope we’ll find my father in the same place.”

Oh wait. Did she mention that? “Uh… yeah, I forgot to mention that we’ve learned my dad is alive and in the hands of… “ Kaylee looks around and learns forward again to whisper, “Mazdak.”

Aman gives Kaylee a small smile in return for her compliment. If she's able to feel a little better, a little less overwhelmed, that's good enough for him. "I know it's tough. But no matter what the reality is, it'll be okay. Promise." He nods his reassurance and then settles back into his seat.

His ears prick when her voice drops, his warmth fading in place of attentiveness. His brows pop, one then the other. "Oh," he says cavalierly. He stabs his fork through the crunchy crust of an outer slice. "Those assholes again." Aman narrows his eyes before he looks down at his plate, pondering just how bad that is.

He knows enough to know that's bad, anyway.

"Regardless of whether or not he's an asshole or bad relations or whatever, I'm assuming you're on the boat where he—"


The light in his eyes is unsteady as they suddenly snap back up to hers. His head dips as he leans in slightly. "You think Mazdak has you?" Gone is the casual tone, now in the same hush she speaks in, but more urgent.

There is a slow nod and then after a thought a shrug. “There is a good chance. Yes. Not confirmed, but… it makes sense,” Kaylee hates admitting it to him, really. “Richard’s source told him that… they’re using my father’s brain for his ability. He could take information and predict events… but, after he was augmented, he could see all possible paths and all possible outcomes.” There was a bit of awe at her father’s ability, even if it had destroyed so much.

“Much of what comprises this body,” Kaylee motions to herself with her fork in hand, “was made by various companies, not all knew about what it would be used for. Richard’s source came to him after they realized… Along with rumors of another that deals in plugging people into machines. I know for a fact, that a machine like that can tap into someone’s ability like Edward's.” Kaylee looks at her cooling food and adds, “Mind you this is second hand from Richard… but…” She wobbles her head a bit and takes a bite. “I trust his retelling and I’ve learned that… rarely are things coincidence anymore.”

It was a lot, but… “What scares me most, is all of this… all of these paths, so to speak, are leading right to the Entity.” Kaylee takes another bite and watches Aman and quickly decides to ease some of it, by focusing him on the immediate problem. “Though right now, I just need to get my body back. Baby steps… I guess.” Did they have time for baby steps?

"Baby steps," Aman echoes unhappily, his features frozen in a thoughtful pallor. He frowns down at his food, biding a few moments of time by slicing off a portion of soggy waffle with the side of his fork. "Getting your body back is no small joke, either."

Finally he looks up, no less solemn than before. After taking a bite he wonders, "Did the DoE ever find out anything extra after we did our postcognitive seance adventure down in Sheepshead?" He doesn't sound hopeful, but he feels remiss in asking. "I know like right after was when that Nakamura lady died, but…"

Aman shakes his head. "It all felt wrong. Pieces not matching up exactly. The plane crashed in Canada, but all the tactile information from before the crash pointed to something European."

But then something dawns on him. "Unless…" he concedes cautiously, looking to Kaylee. "I mean, Russia is a big fucking country," he offers with precisely 0 additional follow-up context.

“The world is pretty fucking big in general and we could be just about anywhere,” Kaylee sighs, looking mildly defeated, her fork again plucking at her waffle. “When it comes to my father, I feel confident that Mazdak would keep him close, which I believe means the middle east… but… I mean, they have operations everywhere.” She gives a little swirl of her fork in the air before her to signify the world.

Whatever Aman said is slowly sinking in and eyes narrow at the man in front of her, “Russia?” There was a touch of confusion, head tilting ever so slightly to one side. “What about…? Ooooh,” she concludes softly, understanding what he’s getting at. “But the people that abducted us from our homes were German.”

There is uncertainty in that thoughtful expression, but Kaylee doesn’t brush the idea away. They could be anywhere, “According to Richard’s information, it was a multinational operation. Parts built in different companies.”

Aman is on the verge of an immediate reply when he catches a whiff of something, head turning to the door. Whoever just came in smells awfully of skunk. But, it was today after all. Clearing his throat, he looks back to Kaylee.

"The flight seems like less a crazy thing maybe if you were picked up somewhere east in Russia. Because— I mean Russia and Alaska are only a few hours apart, at their eastern and westernmost points, right? That could definitely help with driving down the amount of flight time they went undetected. And if they went through mostly unoccupied airspace the whole time… I mean, that could explain part of how they went under the radar with a plane that fucking big, right?"

He thinks. Maybe.

"If it's a whole multinational affair, though, multiple companies…" Aman begins to sound less certain. "I don't know even where to start pointing fingers." Settling back in his seat, he fiddles with his fork. "The thing that gets me though— Russians and Germans and whatever— I mean, the EUSR is a whole thing. If they were looking for Evolved to disappear, they have ways of that, and countries full of people they could have dragged from. So, why here? Why New York?"

"Power flex? Or Mazdak manipulation?"

Aman looks miffed. "And why the fuck would they go after Isaac in that case?" he wonders more quietly.

While she tries to ignore the smell that’s found its way into the restaurant, Kaylee’s head bobs as Aman lays out his thoughts and he can see her taking that information seriously. When he starts doubting, she smiles at him kindly in total understanding. How often has she started down a train of thought only to backtrack and second guess herself.

“They have the power of probability prediction,” Kaylee says it like that was the answer to everything. “And who knows what else,” she adds blandly. “They had a list, which means those abductions may very well help them steer the river of time in the direction they want it. There is a lot of corporate knowledge too in others. Me, Ms. Nakamura, Nicole is SESA. It doesn’t explain them all, though, you’re right.”

Just like Aman, Kaylee starts doubting her reasoning, “It could be any number of reasons really.”

"In the Oni's case," he mutters around his fork, "You figure it'd be for fucking them over. Can't be a gift, right? Can't think of any of this being some kind of… positive."

But that's enough of that kind of talk.

Aman lifts his head back up. "One thing at a time, though. This shit with your mom— I'm serious if you need a ride or moral support or whatever. Especially if you need someone there for you if she starts freaking out because you tell her about your situation."

God only knows most people wouldn't have the reaction he's had to several people he's close to apparently being replaced by replicants.

“I… am… not going to tell her what’s going on,” Kaylee says slowly, looking guilty as her gaze drops to the table between them. “At least, not all of it. If it even comes up. It’s hard to hide the loss of my ability even if it is mental.” She plucks up a piece of her sausage, though she doesn’t take a bite yet.

“Haven’t really decided when I’m going anyhow,” Kaylee says with a glance past it to Aman. “Luther, Bob, and Lou have offered the same. I dunno though. All I know is I need to go and I hate that I don’t have my ability. I’ve never thought to see if Charles ever messed with my mother’s mind. Then again, I never had reason to. Not until I started to have resurgent childhood memories. She keeps talking about needing to remember.”

A bite is taken and chewed before Kaylee elaborates, “It’s not the first time that man has manipulated memories. Blocking and even writing over them. After the crossover event of the early 80’s they did this to a lot of people. Being that Edward had dealings with the Company, something might have happened.” There is a thoughtful expression, “I kinda wonder if it has something to do with the tornado. It’s the only thing I remembered for a long time.”

With a frown, Aman finds himself wondering, "Or maybe it's the bandaid hiding over what's there to be hidden? A storm in which the truth lies, but most people would be too scared to approach?" He realizes he sounds almost out of character for himself and winces slightly for it before explaining, "I mean, if I were to come up with a way to discourage someone from digging into covered-up memories… I'd not exactly just hole them up behind some kind of suspicious door that says hey, lost and found over here or something like that, you know?"

He stabs at what's left of his plate idly, seeming satisfied to know that at least she's got others who know she's going, others who see her more than he has lately. Between work and his expanding side-gig area of activities, he's been kept busy.

"Speaking of Company shit, I honestly don't know what to do with all that shit Des found. I'm… trying not to get involved, keep my distance, but I don't think she's gonna let the issue with the damn penny go, and I can't stop her." He glances up with a gloam of guilt clouding his expression. "She came to my house, asking for her ability back, and the arguments she put up… I couldn't say no. But she didn't leave me with any illusions she wasn't going to do something stupid with it again, either."

Aman sighs in frustration. "The shit that nearly happened before is ripe for a round two, from where I'm sitting. I mean we tried for months to find a psychometer til Cassandra. Now that we finally have one that can access the memories… I don't see what's to stop her from…" He glances up again. "You know?"

“Becoming the entity’s next vessel or worse.” Was there worse? Kaylee sighs out, her stomach roiling with concern and worry for her friends. A pinch at the bridge of her nose says that this was going to be a problem. Aman was her friend and she knew how he felt about the other woman. A part of her wanted to lie, but… she couldn’t do that. He needed to know.

The hand drops away from her nose and Kaylee levels a sympathetic look at Aman. “That woman knows how to hyperfocus on an issue when she thinks it’s right or wants something badly. She may or may not do something stupid again.” Kaylee couldn’t offer a definitive answer, because it was hit or miss.

Pushing her mostly empty plate away from her, Kaylee crosses her arms and leans them on the table, “Once her and I and Richard had a disastrous trip into her mind that could have killed us, where something - that I now am pretty sure was the Entity - took control of my ability. Her and Richard - who loves her and would risk anything for her,” Something in her tone says she thinks he was dumb for risking it and yet gets it. “Well, they turned around and risked a dreamwalker for another disastrous trip that could have killed them… all because she wanted more answers about her past. And I get wanting to know,” she has her own wants like that, “but my issue is even though she knew something powerful used my ability against us, she still risked it…. Risked others.”

What was the point of her telling him that? Kaylee’s attention drops to the table between them. “I really do care about you Aman and I don’t want you to get hurt because you stepped into this rabbit hole. So please tread lightly.”

"It's not me you have to worry about," Aman promises offhandedly, likewise looking off from Kaylee. He instead looks across the restaurant. "And hearing she's done this same type of shit before…"

He sounds disappointed, and he is.

"Entity, over and over," he laments in a mumble. "Why's it gotta be something that goddamned big at every direction?" He manages to look back to Kaylee, brow knit. "I wanted to help her, but I also know when to not touch something that's burned me once before. I can't save her from herself. That's not my job. And even if in sone other universe it was, I still don't think I'd succeed at it." He lifts up his hand in a kind of helpless shrug.

"She's out there looking for closure she knows she'll never find, but hopes for anyway. Answers aren't gonna bring her family back, and they clearly aren't helping her sleep any easier." He reaches for his drink, and the mimosa tastes oversweet against the bitter feeling he battles. He swallows against it, sets his glass aside, and considers the dregs of his meal against his failing appetite.

"It sucks wanting better for someone," he opines quietly. "She said that after I kept her ability, she went home, tried to leave her fiancé, but didn't realize he was still there because she couldn't sense him. He saw what she was doing, stopped her, talked her down the way he does. So I felt terrible, felt like I…" He struggles with his words. "That if she needed that to escape him and it was my fault that she couldn't, that I didn't have a choice but to give it back. No matter the risk of what else might happen."

"I tried talking her into just going and living her life with him if she's gonna stay, but…" Aman begins to shake his head, looking to the side again when a waiter passes by. "I think we both know how well that's gonna turn out. So maybe I just got tricked into just giving her what she wanted, but giving her a reason to keep being in my life and pining for me when she made her choices… somehow, that'd have been worse." He hesitates before shaking his head, biting back the need to justify himself.

After a moment, he looks back to Kaylee, studying her. "I care about you, too, you know," he feels the need to clarify suddenly. "It's why I do annoying shit like tell you to not go deal with this stuff with your mom alone." The smile he cracks is a weak one, but grants him the levity he was looking for. "I kept thinking you and Luther were bound to work out, keep waiting for it to happen, but… I dunno."

"I got freaked out a little by the red strings of fate and all, I admit," he says with a touch of wariness before canting his head. "but mostly I just didn't want to be relegated to 'guy girl jumps for while trying to escape the control of malicious entity over life'. That's just a fancy enough term for a rebound guy held onto out of spite, you know?" His smile comes back again, briefly touching his lips during his moment of self-deprecation. "Enough time's passed I don't think that'd be the case, though. I know you care, even if we're not together, and not out of some… misguided attempt to shepherd every well-meaning stray you come across."

His brow lifts and knits anyway. "At least, I'm like ninety percent sure of that last one," Aman admits with an awkward laugh at his own expense.

There are a number of conflicting emotions playing across Kaylee’s face as he talks. The mention of the red string has her huffing a chuckle out and ducking her head in embarrassment over having talked about such a thing. “The world's weird right now, it’s hard to even think about things like that,” she says, flushing slightly, “Especially if… if I’m not me. Just setting myself up for pain.”

But she does lean across the table so that she can touch the back Aman’s hand with cool fingertips. “But stray? Rebound guy? Never, Amanvir,” Kaylee says with conviction, chiding him. “I would hate myself for putting you in that situation. And I shepherd cause it would hurt if anything happened to you, even if I still can’t give you what you want. I’m just not brave enough to figure out my heart, especially right now, when so much shit is going on.”

Starting to draw her hand back across the table, Kaylee’s expression falls, taking on a darker edge, “Not that any of this will matter if my brother and his team isn’t successful.” She might have faith in her brother, but there would always be doubt nagging in the dark corners of her mind.

Aman starts to turn his hand over at Kaylee's touch, to give her his rather than just receive her touch, but she's withdrawing almost as soon as she's reached out. He gives a flicker of a smile anyway. "There's a lot going on," he sympathizes. "But who knows when it'll stop. Letting someone support you and get close wouldn't be the end of the world. Someone to help share the load, yeah?"

He looks off and then back, closing his hand and pulling it back to himself. "Is Richard trying to find your dad to get him out from under Mazdak?" Aman asks with all the innocence of the uninitiated and unaware.

There is a small shake of her head at the question and avoiding anything about letting him in close and support her. He made it sound so easy. “Richard… he’s going off to save the world soon,” Kaylee admits blandly and maybe a touch jealous.

“So it may fall on my shoulders to find my father and then figure out how to get to him.” There is no hiding the uncertainty and anxiety that Kaylee is feeling over that. “Unfortunately, I am not Richard. He has all the resources and connections,” Kaylee sighs out. “I have you, I have Luther and a group of synthetic humans with something faulty going on.” Her hands lift in a gesture of helplessness.

Sighing heavily, Kaylee addresses another issue, “Then there is the fact that they have a leg up on anything we do.” Across from her, Aman can see a thought alighting in her eyes, “Unless we can find a way to fool it. Which is easier said than done, because we have to act unpredictably.”

Aman takes a last bite of his food with slow consternation. Off to save the world. Facing two extinction-level events, Richard had off-the-cuff said last month. His jaw slows as he tries not to think about that too hard.

"Hey, nobodies are harder to predict for. Wouldn't you think? People care about what the Kaylee Thatchers of the world do, not the Aman Singhs do." The grin he flashes is a weak one, a joke hidden somewhere in it. "That being said, you're also the girl with big family money to throw around. You know more people thank you think thanks to your life before that, too. Anyone with half a brain should duck when you go swinging. It'll hurt."

"Dodging them knowing…" Finally, Aman reaches for his drink again. "It sucks, but does that mean you have to stay out of the know?" He wrinkles his nose, wondering at it. "Like, do you need certain friends of yours to do some secret spywork on your behalf?" He sounds cheeky, and he is, but he's not entirely joking either. He lifts his brows at her wonderingly.

Kaylee’s head shakes slowly, “I don’t think I need to stay out of the know, I just can’t make any lasting decisions, because he’s my father and he knows me.” By the way she wrinkles her nose, it’s obvious she doesn’t like that idea. “Back during what I call the time war,” she gives him a small smile at the corniness of it, “he used reverse psychology on me to get me to help someone. Told me… Don’t trust him.” A small laugh escapes at the memory of the warning.

“I totally trusted him,” Kaylee adds a little smugly. “And I ended up doing amazing things to keep our world intact and saved Valerie from dying in Midtown. Honestly, even though I was shot up during World War 2, had a terrekinetic try to kill me, and was exiled in the 1890’s for five years… I would have done it again.” There is a weird serenity and calm about the woman.

Curling her finger through the handle of her cooling mug of coffee, Kaylee admits with no qualms, “To be honest, if Hiro showed up today and asked, I’d totally go.”

Aman remembers the time travel bombshell. It was one of the first things Kaylee had lobbed his way when he was wading into the deep end to see if he'd sink or swim. To hear her talk about it so easily rather than to try to scare him off peels back another layer to her, one that brings him to only watch her.

And then try to avoid making it obvious he's staring. He reaches for his drink again, only to turn away quickly to flag down a waiter and ask for a hot drink like Kaylee has. "Hiro being the time travel war instigator?" he ventures idly once the waiter's gone. "And presumed time traveler?"

Aman lets out a low tone of appreciation, head canting. "Man, that's one ability I've always wondered about. I almost picked up a version of it briefly, but the kid's mom… she was scared of him having it, much less what would happen if anyone else did, in the end."

His brow furrows and he murmurs, "It's been a while since I've heard from them actually. Hope they're doing well."

Kaylee’s head shakes, brows furrowing at the idea that Hiro started it. Though she also knows that Aman didn’t know about a lot that went on in the deeper shadows of society. “Hiro didn’t start it. A man named Samuel Sullivan did. He is the terrakinetic I mentioned. He brought people back in time to kill people and stop events that led to a war worse than the one that happened here. Hiro pulled a bunch of us in to help.”

His concern over a friend gets a curious look from Kaylee. Could he mean? Blue eyes narrow thoughtfully. How many other kids out there could have time travel abilities? Only one way to find out, so Kaylee settles back in her seat and casually says, “Well, Delilah has her reasons…” She almost lets slip that Walter was one of the kids that came back, but didn’t feel like it was her place. “She knew most of us that helped Hiro. Time travel is not only helpful, but also extremely dangerous. Each time you go back to change something, there is a risk of a new fork being created.”

It wasn't that Aman wasn't attentive before, but he sits up a little straighter when Kaylee guesses correctly just who he was dealing with. For a moment there's a wondering look in his eyes, but he stops short of asking an insensitive question.

Of course Kaylee didn't read his mind. It'd be stupid and hurtful to ask. She just… knows lots of people. This shouldn't be a surprise.

"That's insane," he says of the time war, though he sounds impressed. "But amazing, minus the part where someone tried to kill you. Generally not a fan of those moments." He manages half a grin for that. "But given the outcome, I see why you'd do it all over again."

Beyond that, his tongue stays glued to the roof of his mouth for a moment longer. Should he say anything at all about what he knows of Walter's situation? Their arrangement? He resolves that it's Kaylee, and she's a safe enough person to tell. She already knows them, from the sounds of things.

"She hired me early last year to help him get his head around his ability. Tutor him so its use happens on his terms, and so on." His head wobbles. "Keeping from him the full scope of what he can do is only going to hurt him long-term. One day, he's going to be comfortable with zipping here and there— too comfortable— or maybe he's in a snap moment and he pulls that side of his ability his mom doesn't want him to worry about."

Aman frowns. "He needs to know before he suddenly ends up—" He catches himself when he hears the agitation in his voice, and looks back up to Kaylee, mellowing. "But he's not my kid," he acknowledges. "So it's not my circus. I just would hate if we spent all this time building up his confidence only for it to be shattered and for him to be afraid of himself, what he can do." Still with visible concern, he mutters, "That's a worst-case scenario."

There was a small nod when her suspicions were confirmed, followed closely by a sigh. “Like I said, she has her reasons,” Kaylee says softly, “and it’s not really my place to explain them even if I have a feeling I know why. But, I can assure you they're good ones and I hope I’m never in her position when Carl finally manifests,” Her smile tips up to one side in apology. If Carl had that ability, she’d be just as terrified of losing him to it. She was already terrified of losing him everytime Joseph talked about moving away.

“I’m glad to hear she’s found help,” Kaylee says after a thoughtful moment. “Especially since you have experience with many abilities. All you can do, Amanvir, is do your best.” It was the best she could offer.

“Though, I think at this point…” Kaylee starts, taking a deep breath, “He might be the best to help get the rest of the kids away from what’s coming…. If my brother can’t…” she trails off, having been reminded that her son and the other children were going to be victims of this as well.


Aman looks off, thinking to himself, I mean, shit, is she wrong? But he frowns anyway.

The war was supposed to mean the survival of everyone wouldn't be on the backs of the Evolved kids of the nation. And yet, if something greater than civil war came to threaten them, anyone with abilities like Walter's would become… more invaluable than they already were.

He forces a smile abruptly. "Yeah, I'm glad Delilah found me, too. Walt's a good kid, great to work with." His disquiet announces itself in the way he massages the lower half of his face, the heaviness of the whole conversation begging some kind of physical release. "Let's just hope he gets to be a kid a bit longer."

"Better that crummy old adults like us are the ones that worry about shit like that end of the world," Aman opines with that smile again.

“True,” Kaylee agrees readily, “I haven’t told Carl and won’t until there isn’t any hope left.”

Giving a shake of her head, as if clearing the dread and darkness from her mind, Kaylee offers Aman a smile. “I’m sorry. I keep dragging us down. It all is just looming so large over our heads.”

"Some day we'll all get out from under it. Or maybe someone else can play Atlas for a few minutes, and we can steal an escape from it anyway." He sounds sure of that, calm. Ready to create whatever mischief is required to make that happen.

After all, he's certain she's worth it. Without question.

"In the meantime, I'm there with you to face it. Do what I can." Aman opens his hands in a general gesture at their current situation. "Whether it's pancakes, or…" His smile flickers present again. "Whether it's something more. All right?"

The smile Kaylee offers in return shows she’s not quite convinced there will ever be a time when it didn’t feel like the world rested on their shoulders. Still there is a small nod of her head in agreement.

“As my brother likes to say, ‘we’ll rest when we’re done,’” Kaylee says softly, almost wistful for that moment to come.

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