What's Mine, What's Yours


kaylee3_icon.gif luther_icon.gif

Scene Title What’s Mine, What’s Yours
Synopsis A short journey through the little things two friends discover about each other.
Date April 17 through May 28, 2019

What’s Your…

Favorite Food
Favorite Color
Favorite Animal
Favorite Game
Favorite Song
Worst Fear

Burgers and Pies

April 17, 2019

“New York Penal Code.. 270.25,” Kaylee parrots back, while padding silently back to the kitchen table that her and Luther were huddled around, laden with drinks. A thick book lays open in front of the man, a pair of half eaten pizzas on the table cooling, but neither seem to care. By the look of them, the pizzas are even homemade.

“Here you go.” A bottle of Luther’s favorite beer is sent in front of him and a glass of iced tea near Kaylee own plate. “Um…” She’s thoughtful, brows furrowed as she reaches to snag another slice of pepperoni and onion pizza. A sock clad foot tucks under her as she sits down again. “Shit… I know this one. Hold on.”

The events of the month before were like a distant memory, as the telepath dove right into her police training as soon as she got out of the hospital.

Today, Luther was helping her memorize penal code… an arduous task, but easy compared to the hours they’ve spent on the range… Kaylee had a handful of people working hard to get her shooting good enough to pass the range quals… that was a lot of work.


“Uh…Unlawful fleeing a police officer in a motor vehicle…” Blue eyes are intent on the slice as she searches her own brain for the answer. “In the… third?” Kaylee glances at Luther out of the corner of her eye and after a second, nods, “Yes… in the third degree.” A big bite is taken of the pizza and she settles in for his verdict and waits for the next.

This was easy.

“Thanks,” Luther rumbles out with the appearance of a beer before him, a brow arching in amusement. “But if you thought this was going to get you off the hook for not knowing…” He pauses as she names the definition of the code successfully. A second brow joins the first, this time impressed.

He nods, signalling her correct answer, and takes a quick bite of his slice of folded pizza. The slice is huge even for his hand, as appropriate for New York. Once of the first things to come back to the Safe Zone, pizza. The slice is set down as he flips around for a decently difficult question, but not too far in given that they’d only just really begun. But upon deciding arbitrarily that he hasn’t found a good one, Luther looks up to the telepath.

“You know the real question here, is why only onion and pepperoni?” Not that he’s complaining, he’s only curious. And a swig of beer follows the question. “And did you take that out of my head as I was reading it, or did you actually know.” Luther wipes his hand on a napkin, using it to dab at his mouth and hide an impish grin peeking from his grey gaze.

“Well….” Kaylee takes a bite and doesn’t continue until she swallows it. “First, I'm going to ignore that last question. You know me better then that.” The impish grin reflected back to him. As for the pizza?

“I had thought about an everything pizza, but then I wasn’t sure what you like,” Kaylee points out, picking of a slice of pepperoni from her slice. “So… I went simple and I like onions on pizza. I think it adds a little something to the flavor.” The pepperoni is popped into her mouth. “Though, I like it best with sausage though, but couldn’t find any before tonight.”

Dropping the slice on her plate, she leans back in her chair and considers the man sitting across from her. “So… while shopping for ingredients… I realize… You know a whole lot about me, because of your job, but you…” Kaylee smirks and shakes a finger at him, like he’s been caught red handed at something. “I know almost nothing about you.” There is a flicker of disappointment, though maybe more at herself.

“I mean, what kind of friend am I, that I don’t even know what kind of toppings you like on pizza,” Kaylee gives a frustrated wave of her hand at the pizza. The second of which was simply a cheese pizza.

The pizza is delicious, what with onions adding a twist to the classic pep and mozzy combo. Luther goes in for another bite since he can. It’s an unwitting display of how quickly he happens to consume food, as those around him during breaks could confirm. He pauses in chewing at the finger shake looking much like he’d been caught doing something he shouldn’t have. Until, she turns her frustration upon herself and he shakes his head.

After the swallow down, a second wipe of the napkin in hand, he looks plainly at her and states, “Mm, sausage. Well, I haven’t met a pizza topping I haven’t liked. Livin’ out on the streets, you don’t get picky… just cautious.” Luther sits back against his seat, glancing down the partly eaten slice, blinking a few times as those memories of the meaner, leaner times pulls up. It’s a question he’s giving further thought into. He glances up. “I like onions. I don’t like… fish.”

The conclusion: “People put some weird shit on their pizza.”

There is a wrinkle of Kaylee’s nose at the mention of fish, her head shaking back and forth. “Never will a fish touch my pizza.” She looks at her piece and back at him with a truly disgusted look.. “Nor pineapple.”

In short: She agrees.

Another quick bite of her pizza, followed by a finger held up while she chews; she’s not done talking, yet. Kaylee’s foot slides out from under her so she can get up. “So… along this thought — funny enough — Carl came to see me after school and left some papers behind.” Stepping around her chair, the telepath moves to retrieve what looks like a kids book from the living room table; it was Carl’s favorite book The Good Dragon.

A hand brushes over the cover lovingly and for a brief moment her carefree appearance cracks and he can see a brief flicker of pain. Almost as soon as it happens, it is gone again. The book is opened as she settles back into her seat and a folded paper is taken out. “It’s kind of a get to know you thing. It helps the kids and teacher can learn about each other, I guess.” The book is set on the table next to her, while the page is offered to him. Carl’s large and looping lettering fills the page, some words having to trail down the edge of the paper in places. The smile that plays across Kaylee’s lips is bright and a brow arches in challenge. “The questions are simple, but it’s a start.” A start?

“It’s not so bad if you take off the anchovies,” claims Luther as a small smile spreads over his features for that disgusted look. “Pineapple’s not one I’ve tried.” The admission comes quietly, followed by a curious arch to his brows as she rises. He remains seated, tracking her movement, sneaking another bite from his slice that’s about half gone with just a few chomps in. It’s a good thing she made a large pizza.

His head tilts as she picks up the book, and while he thinks he sees the flickering shift of her pained expression, Luther continues to chew without making a point on it. Not yet. But, clever Carl. The boy must have deliberately left the book, he concludes quietly.

A second glance to the book cover later, Luther drops the half-eaten slice onto his plate, knuckles the worksheet over and tilts his head the other way as he peruses. “I remember the kids askin’ these things, for school.” His eyes follow the looping letters of a childish hand, brow pulling together between his gaze as his memories that had sunken deeply find their way to bubble back up to the surface. And when he returns to the very first batch of questions, Luther looks up to Kaylee.

He smiles gently.

“Alright then. You want to go first?”

Maybe it’s the darkening tone of his mind, but Kaylee suddenly feels bad for bringing it up. Teeth briefly catch on her lower lip, before he looks up at her with that smile. Relief flows through her and she pulls the sheet close, picking it up with a bit of a smirk. Making a show of straightening a corner she draws it out a little, making it look like she is considering the proper question to ask. .

“Well… I believe I know the perfect question.” Kaylee sets the sheet down carefully and replaces it with her slice of pizza. “What’s your favorite food?” Brows lift as she watches him expectantly, while she takes a healthy bite of the pizza slice.

Later, The Next Day

“Luther! Come on! That isn’t an answer,” Kaylee huffs out in frustration from where she jogs beside the man. Long, curled lengths of blonde hair are pulled up into a ponytail, which bounces behind her head. It was still too cold to go without the hoodie she was wearing over the sports bra, and leggings. “‘Whatever’s edible’, is not the answer I’m looking for.”

It was always kind of tough to chat while jogging, her words coming out breathless and broken up around her breathing. Yet, she was making plans for her evening. Neither one of them were busy, so hanging out with her closest friend, sounded like a good one to her.

“If you don’t tell me what you want, we might just end up eating grilled cheese, since I still have a ton of stuff leftover from Carl visiting.” It was the kids favorite after all. “And personally, I’m kinda burned out on it right now.” It still hurt to be apart from her baby boy and that food made her think of her kids.

There is a grin and Kaylee bumps her arm against his. “How about I make your favorite thing? Maybe some sorta pasta too or, now that I think about it, maybe we should do a salad.” There is a teasing smile, she’s trying to keep him motivated in all this, as much as he has for her.

"You didn't tell me you were looking for a specific answer." Luther's reply comes out in spurts between regular inhale-exhale rhythm. His pace matches with hers as they jog along the streets of Jackson Heights. It's a way to get out of the company campus border, but also to examine their neighborhood along the way. An ever practical excuse.

The threat of a grilled cheese looming, Luther laughs out a rough huff. "Bob warned you about buying so much cheese," he recalls. "But hey, at least it's not something that goes bad quick." Plus, Bob had already taken a fair portion of it for his family.

Luther pushes back the hood of his grey hoodie as they come to the corner, letting his head and lungs breathe. He bends, forward first in an effort to stretch his legs and back, then back up straight with hands hooking behind his head. The man stalls, switching mental gears to actually give the question some thought.

"It really depends on the course, though," he says in open consideration. Unhelpfully. "I mean, if you're talkin' dessert, wouldn't do bad with some cake. I like a good baked ziti as much as the next guy. And now that the hydroponics lab's getting going…" But he makes a face about salad, glancing down to his sweater, imagining his gut underneath the fabric. "Hm."

Super unhelpful, Luther. But he's apparently coming around to a conclusion. "Did they even have cheeseburgers in the 1800s?" He remembers their odd discussion about where she'd learned to cook, and the strange circumstances behind it. Shoulders roll up and back, hands spread. "It's not exactly a grilled cheese sandwich," he says.

“You are the most unhelpful man I have ever met,” It’s said with a grin, so it must not be that much of a bother. Kaylee turns towards Luther as she stretches, feet hooked on her arm and pulled up behind her. “So a salad and cake.. Maybe a pint of ice cream.” The second to take a bite out of the first, her smile pulled to one side in her amusement. It was sorta healthy eating right?

“And it’s not as bad as you think.” His stomach gets smacked with the back of her hand as she switches feet, to emphasize what she’s talking about. “But people might say I’m biased,” there is a roll of her eyes, “just cause we’re friends.”

A quick bend, to stretch the back of her legs, and she nods her head where they are going. She doesn’t jog this time, moving to walk a little before they do. That way their heart rate doesn’t drop, just yet. “You and I both could do with eating better. Just cause I don’t really gain much, doesn’t mean I my heart won’t clog.”

The unhelpful man looks upon his friend's suggestion of salad and cake with a pull of his lip corners into a rueful smile. "If you're going to do that, then at least make the cheeseburger and skip on the ice cream," Luther says with a glance down to his smacked stomach. A slight concern tickles the back of his thoughts along with the errant opinion that he does at times feel his age. Not always, as such moments are fleeting. But he has them.

"Well, what do you want for dinner? Pasta?" He shrugs lightly, banishing the thought that they'd be virtually undoing what exercise had been done with such a caloric-heavy meal. Then again, the Safe Zone staples had been for some time as such, especially when the food shortages had lasted that long. Rice and beans, starchy items, it was what most had.

Luther walks alongside, moving to some upper body stretches as they engage in brief cooldown. "Tell you what, you do the cooking and I'll come by and help put away some of those boxes I see you got your code books stacked on." It's not like he hadn't noticed she was still in the middle of unpacking. And maybe noticed the process was slow. Painful, even. The support is implied, shifted into an offer of more helpful actions.

“I am not giving up the ice cream,” Kaylee states firmly, chin tipping up defiantly, “You will have to pry it from my cold, dead hands.” When it comes to ice cream, she was pretty damn serious. “Besides, cheeseburgers are filled with the artery clogging fats.” It is pointed out very reasonably, with a grin. “But fine… we’ll keep both.” They are not good at this healthy living stuff.

It is a familiar conversation.

The offer of support bleeds the amusement of the moment right out of her. Replaced by pain? Guilt, maybe?

No!” The word snaps out faster and harsher than she wants. Kaylee doesn't apologize. How dare he. Instead, she picks up the pace; feeling the temptation to run from the question and thetruths buried behind it and the answer. A few more paces, she amends her answer. “Thank you, but no. I’ve… I’ve got this. Okay?” A lie and Luther knows her lies, where others might not.

“Besides, I don’t plan on living at Raytech forever.” And so starts the excuses. The covers. “It’s just taking awhile to find a place I can afford on my new salary and isn’t weirded out by what I am.” He can hear the growing strain in her voice anytime she talks about her family, “I gave up my Raytech earnings for Joseph and the kids” Most likely for alimony and child support.

A shoulder lifts a bit dismissively, “So might have to find me a sugar daddy to support my new freedom.” It is an attempt at humor that falls flat. Her heart just isn’t into it. The decision is still a raw nerve.

Luther mostly loses the smile at her sudden snap, and he only cracks a low sounding, placating chuckle. "Cold hands, huh?" Get it, Kaylee, because ice cream… anyway. Still, her resistance is noted and he falls silent as they walk on.

She doesn't have to be a telepath to see that he recognizes the raw emotions surrounding her. Her excuses only manage to shift his gaze from the construction riddled road ahead of them back over to her. It's a metaphor not lost upon the man. As she picks up the pace, so does he. That too, a bit of a metaphor as he keeps up with her like the truths she's fleeing from, nipping silently at her heels.

But, sugar daddy sends his brow into an awkward pinch, his nose wrinkling. "I could do with never hearing that term come out of you again," rumbles Luther with a short shake of his head, "Unless it's in context of the candy brand."

He elects to push onward then, stretching the stride out some more. "Well when you do find a new place," he says after some distance, "I'll bring the cake and the ice cream."

True Colors

April 20, 2019

A stack of papers looms from a corner of Kaylee's kitchen table, but neither Luther nor Kaylee are paying attention to them. He's in the middle of marking over an answer sheet while the telepath turned police academy cadet in training waits for the results of a practice test. The man's thoughts are focused on the sheet before him, marking it steadily with a red pen. In the silence, it's a little confusing and possibly anxiety inducing to watch the pen circle over the question numbers over and over.

In his reality, it means the answer's correct. But that doesn't stop the red ink from attracting the eye and making assumptions.

Eventually he sets the sheet and the pen down beside it long enough to pick up the slice of quesadilla sitting on a plate beside the page and take a bite. With the freed hand, he nudges the answer sheet over to the telepath, nodding for her to take a look at her quiz results.

"If they have a ceremony, would you want me to go?" The question comes after he swallows.

Chewing nervously at her thumbnail, Kaylee watches Luther mark up the paper. It was hard to reconcile his reality and her’s with each new red circle. It was a lot of red. There is an aversion to touching it, even when he nudges it at her, fearing to look at the final results even if there is a large amount of red.

It doesn’t mean what you think it means.

“Oh there is going to be a ceremony,” Kaylee comments knowingly, “We’ve been fitted for dress blues, but that won’t matter if I can’t pass my tests.” Finally forcing herself, she gingerly takes the paper and lets out a huff. “Has anyone told you that using red for the right answers could give someone an ulcer?” she asks in a chiding tone. It is half a tease and half truth. “Blue is traditionally what you use to tell someone they are doing good. You’d think red is your favorite color or something.”

Looking at the one she got wrong, Kaylee grumbles softly, “I swear… I’m never going to get this one. Aggravated Enterprise Corruption. I can't imagine I’ll be using that one much at all.”

Looking up from the practice test, he gets a look. Almost confused, “And why wouldn’t I want you there? Of course, I want you there. You are a big reason why I’m going to make it.” If she does. “If you didn’t spend so much time here going over everything or helping me keep motivated at the shooting range…” He gets a matter of fact look, her shoulders shrugging, “Doubt I would make it as far as I have.”

Looking back at the paper in her hands again, Kaylee adds, “If you didn’t go I’d be hurt.”

Patiently waiting out her nervousness, Luther withholds most of his smile, lip edges curled Cheshire cat-like, until she half-chides his choice of pen color. “It’s not though,” he says on red being his favored color of choice, without any indication that his grading methods for practice quizzes will change any time soon. “I like blue. And if the results of this practice test are any indicator, you’ll do fine.” A second bite later he sets the half-eaten slice down, wipes his hand and extracts from his inner jacket pocket a familiar object. The blue fountain pen that Carl (perhaps with a little help from Mom) had picked out for a gift.

Popping off the protective cap, Luther reaches for one of the papers off the stack, flipping it over and tests the nib upon a corner of the page. Once he’s gotten the ink going, he starts to scrawl various words on the page backing starting with their names. It’s all to distract his thoughts to her complimentary statements of him, and though he catches the matter of fact look, he shakes his head slowly. “You’ve got what it takes,” he says evenly, measured as his pen loops over the paper. “Even if I weren’t here, you’ve got the drive and dedication, a strong sense of justice…”

He slows the scribbling to a stop as she notes that she’d be hurt. In the moment, his brow furrows and he averts his gaze down to the doodles on the page. The pen, he sets down, covering with his hand. Fingertips tap as he considers his response, ultimately deciding on, “As long as I get an invite.” It’s meant as a joke, because she of course said she wants him there at the ceremony. “But. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet.”

He picks up the blue pen once more, twisting it around his fingers. “Aggravated Enterprise Corruption might be more prevalent than we want to think in this day and age… actually, don’t tell Carl or he might get a big head about it, but he picked out my shade of blue.” He holds up the pen in example, pointing out a cerulean-toned Pacific blue color in the swirling blue body of the writing utensil.

“I won’t,” Kaylee comments with a knowing grin. The test paper is set on the table and replaced by a triangle of Quesadilla — At least it wasn’t grilled cheese. A slice of pepperoni is plucked from the edge of the piece. An odd addition, but it worked. Plus, it got the leftover pepperoni out of her fridge. “It would go to his head,” she adds with a bland tone. “I’m glad to see you still have it. Carl had been really insistent on it.” After she pointed it out, of course.

“Blue’s a good color, I like it.” Though something says it isn’t her idea of a favorite. Her eyes follow the way he loops his letters across the page. “It’s a calming one, like the sound of a river or the waves of the ocean… which is where I’d rather be than here.” Fingers rub at a temple, with a huffed chuckle. Her brain clearly fried from all the work. “I might have the drive for all of this, but I still have a lot to learn. I have to be more than booksmart.” The quesadilla changes hands and slightly greasy fingers snag the recently marked up paper, looking it over with a press of lips. “There are physical requirements and weapons qualifications, too.” That last being the worry that eats at her the most, he can see it every time she mentions it.

“All of this,” Kaylee motions to the stack of papers with the half eaten triangle. “WIll mean nothing if I can’t pass any of the rest of it.”

Not pizza, but pizza-like, and floppy enough. The quesadilla slice disappears the rest of the way into Luther when he sets the pen down to polish off the food. “You’ll be fine,” the man reassures as stubbornly as she insists on doubting herself. “You’re setting up another obstacle course in your head, though, so stop that.” With a few gulps of his drink to wash the rest of the slice down, he reaches for another.

“We’ll get you on target practice some more,” says Luther with a lean back into his chair, cradling the warm slice on his fingers. A slide of a look down to the blue pen resting on the papers before him bring a reminder not just of the cadet qualifications deadline, but the origins of the pen, and the day they had started his mental training. “So what’s yours, then?” he asks in a turn of topic. “Favorite color. Should I guess?” An angled brow lifts as he’s already cycling through some possibilities.

He doesn’t say it aloud, but stares at the telepath a bit more intensely with his thoughts focusing as if to throw out his guess by a mental toss rather than verbal. It comes as a picture of a memory, the first time she had tugged him into the strange worlds of the mindscape. The first plunge into the rabbit hole where she had shown him a vision of the RayTech lobby under attack. But before that, there was Kaylee in a bright white sundress, immaculate around the blood and carnage they had first seen.

“You trust me with this?” he questions her, but he doesn’t act to stop her.

«Do you think I shouldn't?» Kaylee asks a brow ticking up with her query, amusement pulling the corner of her mouth into a smile. The whisper is strangely silent for that moment. The smile slowly slides away, as the telepath turns serious; while blue eyes study him as he approaches. «I-» Brows furrow a little as she looks away and to the frozen gunmen. «I am not sure why, but I feel I can trust you, Luther.»

None of that disastrous vision came to light, thankfully. However much it did color the paranoia of the security chief at the time, it also pieced together a new bond between them.

The memory is loud enough that it catches her attention, he was getting better at that and it sparks some amusement in Kaylee. She looks at him thoughtfully with a crooked smile. “Good guess, but no. I can see why you think that.” If he saw her now in the mindscapes, he might change his mind.

Dropping the paper on the table and looking away, Kaylee considers the question. Suddenly, a finger flicks up to ‘hold that thought’. Over on a long table by the door sits a vase filled with golden yellow black-eyed susans. A bright splash of color in a bland apartments. The look out of place next to the boxes that haven’t moved. A look that is as conflicted as the woman living there.

Moving over to extract one the flowers, Kaylee looks at it with a bit of nostalgia, with a hand gently cupped around the petals. “Granny loved these,” she explains wandering back over. “She said they reminded her of the first time Granddaddy and her met. He told her they reminded him of her golden tresses.” Grinning Kaylee breaks the stem shorter. “I guess that is where momma and I got it.” Fingers flick at her own golden curls. “I always loved that story. So much, that I’ve always tried to keep them. A connection to her and him, especially, him since he passed when I was little.” He might remember flowers in the flower beds outside of her home.

“So, to answer your question…” Stopping next to his chair, Kaylee takes a moment to tuck the flower into the pocket of Luther’s jacket, giving it a little adjustment. “Yellow is my favorite color.” Kaylee moves to sit, looking at the flower nestled in that pocket. “Not that bright lemon, but a rich golden color. Just like this.” Kaylee reaches over and brushes a finger gently over the petals, before sitting back and gives a little shrug. “It just kinda speaks to me.”

He was getting better with the purposeful projection, but Luther winds up with a funny-looking expression of knitted brow and pressed lips as he appears to try to force it up to the surface. Good thing Kaylee's skilled at picking up thoughts, especially if they're sledgehammered out like a watermelon through a mini-golf tunnel.

Luther blinks twice as she gets up, releasing the memory and focusing on her movement away to the flower vase. "Golden tresses," he echoes in a low rumble, glancing sidelong first to the blond lengths, then to her face. Admittedly, the word was in his opinion a bit much. But he'd also admit it was a romantic word. And it reminds him of another blond-haired woman of his past.

That memory sweeps away with the shift of movement. The telepath coming beside him, settling the flower in his blazer pocket, causes him to look away from her down to the flower itself and take in the cheerful golden yellow petals and black center that mimics its namesake. He then looks back to Kaylee as she answers the question.

A small, warm smile finds its way back to Luther's expression, appreciative of the tidbit that he's learned. His fingers poke lightly at the flower, but otherwise leaves it where it sits. "Good to know," he rumbles out and reaches for the lingering bit of quesadilla left.

"Speakin' of… Did you know dogs don't really see color?"

Lions, Dragons, and Chickens, Oh My

April 22, 2019

"Kaylee, it's alright. You've got plenty of time," assures Luther at Kaylee's side, distractedly poking around a rack of children's clothes on hangers and looking over bits and bobbles laid out on a table cloth. The Red Hook market was the natural choice to go treasure hunting.

That is, to find a gift for a treasured child.

"Is he still into the same things as before? Kids. They can get picky. Especially when they're turning… what was it?"

“Seven,” Kaylee supplies without any hesitation.

“And you say there is plenty of time, but I’ve got all of this training and studying. I just know I am going to blink and miss it.” There is that edge of intense worry in Kaylee’s voice as she runs fingers long the spines of a few books, looking to see if any speak to her.

So far the trip hasn’t gone how they hoped.

With the separation, her anxiety over her kids has grown by leaps and bounds, especially where Carl is concerned. The question posed… has his interests changed sends a sharp zing of panic through her. What if he had changed and she missed it?

Now you are just being silly.

“Dragons are very much Carl’s favorite thing,” Kaylee sound sure about that. “Though being around Jonah he’s started to think dinosaurs are cool, too.” She picks up a dinosaur book and flips open the cover to the first bright and colorful picture. “This gift has to be perfect.”

Luther can almost sense a sudden shift in Kaylee’s mood or maybe it is a look in her eyes, the way she’s holding herself, but something shifts… and not for the better. While she was fine a moment ago, looking at the picture of a cartoony and chubby dinosaur, the woman suddenly looks on the verge of tears.

“Joseph wants full custody…” Kaylee admits softly, slowly closing the book, “All of them… Even my baby.” Swallowing, she finally looks up at the taller man. “I carried him… I listened to his mind as it developed… felt him kick..“ blinks away the tears, the telepath shakes her head. ”I still remember holding him for the first time… the smell of his hair.” Her voice hitches, head shaking again. “I’m his mother and I feel like I’m being told I have to give him up.” She knows it isn’t true, but it felt that way.

There’s a part in the back of Luther’s mind that slowly crawls forth while he browses the children’s clothes. The smaller sizes of them, the colorful fabrics, whimsical patterns, conjure up an old, nearly forgotten feeling. While Kaylee quietly panics, the man circles the odd feeling, hand resting on a red t-shirt with a black robot face. He looks back to her, a pre-emptive glance in the anticipation of the mood shifting. The gift has to be perfect.

Then she’s on an edge looking down into the emotional spiral, and he furrows his brow in concern. “Hey. You’ll always be his mother,” he notes as he steps back from the clothing rack and over to Kaylee’s side, using his form to block out the busy world around them. Prying eyes as well. Luther looks down at her, sympathy rising. “What did you say?” To Joseph, that is. A beat later, Luther finds himself a touch curious, and digs in the back to an even older memory as he remarks quietly, “You both agreed that the best thing was for the kids to have a stable environment.” The statement bubbles up from him, like an air pocket lifting out of the depths of a tar pit of memories and popping, escaping, out into the open.

His looming form demands her attention, Kaylee eyes a wider then normal, like a deer in the headlights. She stares up at the man, he can see the storm of emotions in that blue gaze. Her own chaotic thoughts make her miss something important… his own. He’d been a parent… shopped like this… but it doesn’t reach through her own self pity.

With a hard swallow she looks away and down back to the book in her hands. “I didn’t.”

There is guilt in those words. Kaylee knows she should have spoken up. She didn’t. “Say anything. I just nodded in agreement, but… he’s right. It’s why I left in the first place,” Though it seems like she is having second thoughts on it. ”The kids needed…” the words get caught in her throat, her focus fully on that book, even if she is fully aware of his presence. “…they needed things to be stable. Structured. And anymore my life is chaotic and unpredictable at best. I can’t be what he needs or them, I tried… but… that isn’t me. They deserve better.” Then her… that goes unsaid.

Kaylee’s reasoning thrown into that empty space between them, probably the first time he’s heard it. “I don’t even know what I deserve anymore or… or what I need.” Her words are have softened, low and filled with all those emotions, “But… I’m having a hard time with my choices.”

By her side, Luther stands quietly while she works through the moment. In the implications of her reasons, though, he inevitably forms a thought as she says that "They deserve better." He turns back to the book, reaches a hand over and pushes it gently back down to the table of merchandise.

"I got an idea," Luther says after the pause. "What if you write one yourself? A book, that is. Not like a long book, but something Carl could… I've seen your journals." The ones she had passed him before, with all the chaos and unpredictability of her life and dreams penned down.

But the idea grows, gathering some momentum as Luther goes on. "You could write about that. Having a hard time with choices. But make it not so serious, like…" Like what, Luther? He scans around at various objects around the table and clothing rack, then turns back to Kaylee. "Like choosing your favorite animal. Dragons, dinosaurs, or… lions."

Luther blinks once. "Maybe throw in a less toothy predator type animal. A chicken." Although, Carl would probably debate that chickens are descendants of dinosaurs. The man furrows his brow again, having backed himself into a corner.

The look she gives Luther is a quizzical one. Clearly, she doesn’t think her writing is all that. Not to mention, “I doubt Carl wants to read a book about canaries.” At least, she sounds highly amused at the idea. Not that she doesn’t like it, but that he even offered it up. “I dunno if he is old enough to appreciate a gift like that.”

She looks down at the book lying on the top of the stack. “He’s been wanting a new dragon book.” Not something there are a lot of. “Maybe…. Maybe.” Looking up and over to her friend, she gives Luther an affectionate smile “Thank you, Luther. What would I…” The words trailed off as all those thoughts bubbling up across the surface of his mind finally catch her attention.

There is a blink and then another, Kaylee looks away with brows falling into a concerned furrow. “You should have told me.” There is no accusation in those words. “I drug you here, I can’t even imagine what this is like for you,” she motions around them. “I’m so sorry, Luther. I didn’t know…” The words are awkward, stumbling over themselves as she tries to find the right words. “I didn’t know you had kids.” That he lost them, she doesn’t say.

All those times, all those comments. How did she miss those.

The telepath takes a deep breath and turns towards him with a bright smile. “Lets go get some food, hmm? I can come back another time… maybe give your idea some serious thought.” Fingers move to lightly grip his arm. “You pick the place.”

The initial note about the book being about canaries gets a quiet chuckle from Luther. "No, no, about his favorite animal. Animals," replies the man as he covers up the awkwardness. It's not enough though, when she comes to realize what's bubbling at the back of his mind. Luther glances away to watch the market, blinking a few times to will away a heaviness.

"Joanna was around Carl's age," he says, head nodding once. "Luke was…" Grey eyes narrow with arithmetic. "Ten. They were going to go see The Lion King. Her favorite animal." Subsequently his. Her, the reason why. He sucks in a slow breath about the same time as Kaylee does, holding it for a pause. Holding it as if to exhale would cut through the weak spot in his pillar of gathered, if barely held, composure.

Her touch to his arm breaks it, and he blows out the breath roughly. Luther looks down to her bright smile, and it's hard to stay so somber with that. He nods again, one hand moving and covering her hand with his warmed fingers. A thank you.

"I get to pick? Then… Donuts count as lunch, right?"

Touch Down

May 10, 2019

It was a beautiful day out. The world smelled faintly of rain, but the breeze made the day a little cooler then normal. Bearable, even with the humidity and surrounding rains. At one of the many picnic tables at the park in Kaylee is busy setting up lunch. Peanut Butter and jelly sandwiches and a variety of fruits and veggies. Even a dish of potato salad. When she was younger,there would be chips, but those were more of a luxury.

“Mooooommy! Help!”

It was Carl that picked this game and Luther who had suggested it as one of his favorites; Kaylee opted out of the game immediately. When she had said they should play a game she meant a nice quiet board game, they were her favorite… But no…. She was ganged up on by her child and her best friend. A picnic and some football.

There is a shrieking laugh as Kaylee’s little boy, gripping a football just a little too big for him, runs straight for her. Stepping away from the table, hands go out to stop him. “Carl! What…?!?”

“Catch!” Carl with a big smile half throws and half shoves the ball in his mother’s arms, even as he about bowls her over. Luckily, she steps back, catching herself. There is a bright smile angled up at her, his arms clinging to her briefly, while he catches his breath. “You’re it!”

Okay, he still has a lot to learn about….

Oh shi—

It suddenly sinks in that Kaylee is holding the ball, thrust into the game by her sneaky son. Arms curls around it, clutching it against herself. This also means… slowly blue eyes lift to look past her son to the looming form that is chasing him.

Oh no…

“Run, Mommy! Make a goal! I’ll stop him!” Her brave little boy… Turning toward Luther it was like watching David and Goliath. It takes everything in her not to laugh out loud as Carl hunkers down and tries to look like one of those linebackers he’s seen in pictures. It is her son’s enthusiasm that has the woman sending a wicked grin at her friend, before turning and running off for the designated goal line between two trees.

Of course, as she runs she is wondering… What the hell is she thinking?!?

The ground doesn't rumble, but the world blackens out with the shadow of Luther Bellamy galumphing towards the pair. Or, more accurately, towards the comparably smaller and more delightfully screamy ball carrier. His target has the advantage of a head start, but the man has longer legs.

He adjusts his trajectory when the ball passes to Kaylee, slowing a touch so the boy can switch positions. "Hey, now you're playing both sides?" calls out Luther. "Alright then, you asked for it!" He doubles down on the show of huffing and puffing, looking like he's going to crash head long into the boy without regard for the weight and size difference.

Until at the last moment, the big man twists and scoops up the kid. At the same time, Carl gets to grapple Luther in a "full contact" defense. Luther nearly topples the boy right over, but he keeps his footing and holds on to Carl to keep the boy from actually getting tackled down. The effect? Luther is naturally forced to slow down, giving Kaylee the chance to make it to the nearby trees and finish the play.

With a bright laugh of triumph, Carl clings to the bigger man, while trying to watch his mommy run for the goal. Meanwhile, Kaylee is reaching those trees and turning to put her arms up, football in one hand. There is a loud whoop and grins at the other two. “A point for Team Sumter!”

“Yay! Mommy!” Carl crows from Luther’s grip.

Seeing Luther with her son and seeing the kid actually happy, Kaylee can’t help but feel a bit of a twinge of a deeper affection for the man. As much as she tries to hide those feelings and tuck them away… they bubble to the surface today. In fact, it must show, because something changes in the little boy. The smile falls away and he goes very still. “Mr. Bellamy? Put me down please,” His tone lacking any emotion. He looks up at Luther, brows furrowed. His expression a mix of confused emotions. This was his friend and his mommy’s friend. Right?

“Mommy. I don’t feel good,” Carl chimes up a bit louder as his mother approaches ready to praise her brave son. Kaylee’s own smile fades away.


“I wanna go home,” He says quietly, cause he knows she'll sense the lie, but he still insists, moving to grab her hand when finally let go.

Not wanting to ruin the shared victory with rules-lawyering, Luther smiles away the erroneous points total. The sight of Kaylee looking happy adds to the triumph.

That is, until Carl's quiet voiced request turns the man's focus. "Oh." He lowers the kid down to solid earth, straightening shortly and blinking as the young boy states he suddenly doesn't feel well.

There, Luther detects it too. The mood shifts and his concern grows. But at the same time, an invisible, sharp feeling pokes into him that it's not his place to play a parent. The man steps back a pace as if physically moved by the jab. Was everything alright? Did he do something wrong? For a moment, Luther replays the scenario in a silent mental rewind of what happened just now.

His gaze dips down to the grass, brow furrowed down the middle. A pang rattles through his body, not one of hunger. He looks back up, his softened stare and slow nod communicating an understanding to the telepath. Maybe a raincheck on lunch so she can tend to her child.

The telepath doesn’t see the changes in Luther’s own expressions, her attention is only on her son. Carl for his part isn’t looking at any one, only the grass between his feet.

What was wrong with him? Kaylee’s brows furrow. Maybe something bubbles to the surface of the boy’s mind, but Luther sees the realization dawning on her and then her suddenly looking guilty. “Okay, baby.” Kaylee’s voice is strained. “I’ll take you home.’ Something in her tone says it won’t be her place. A hand brushes her son’s hair, lovingly… apologetically.

“Sorry, Luther.” Kaylee says softly, turning an apologetic look to the man. «We’ll talk later.» Hopefully, easing his fears that it is his fault. Though, it might not help when the little boy turns a warning look at Luther and wraps his arms around his mother’s arm, almost protectively.

Kaylee’s voice in Luther’s mind appears to ease the guilt only briefly, long enough for him to compose himself and squash the tail of the spiral before it travels further down into the black hole that swallowed the mood. He turns a look over to Carl, meeting the boy’s withering glance. The man lifts his chin, jaw twitching tensely for a moment with the intensity of the silent warning, and finds himself looking away.

“Alright,” he concedes quietly. “I’ll see you later, then.” There’s no save on the abruptly awkward feeling, so Luther steps away, heading off to put some distance between him and the pair. Between him and that stare. His pause is only to look back over his shoulder, enough to see them in his periphery. “Hope you feel better soon, Carl.”

Gonna Make You Sweat

May 24, 2019

Loose clothing but not sweats, check. Comfortable shoes, check. Attitude… check? No, not quite an attitude. Luther checks his watch while he waits at the bus stop nearest the RayTech campus. It’s after business hours and most of the team has left for the day except the night shift. But the reason for the meet up is one of the more common activities since Kaylee began her studies and training for the academy.

He checks back a glance in the direction of the campus, fights off the temptation to head back. Luther instead sends a text to Kaylee’s phone.

Hey. You still up for this?
Going to miss the window tonight if we don’t hurry.

Blowing out a breath, he slips the phone away back into a pocket, easing into a lean back to keep limber.

The hurried sound of feet reach his ears, before Kaylee comes running into view. “I’m sorry,” she huffs out, as she gasps for breath. “Took longer to get Carl home then I planned.” With the young boy’s mood around Luther since that day at the park, she suggested meeting at the bus stop. “We got into an… “

Suddenly, there is the vicious roar of a grizzly bear that interrupts Kaylee’s apology. The sound could almost be mistaken for a growling stomach. It has the woman flushing, and hastily fishing her phone out of her pocket. Even though things were slowly improving with the cell service, delays in the chain are expected and do still happen.

A smile suddenly appears when she reads the text. “Yeah, I am,” Kaylee says when she looks up at the man who sent the text. “After the day I had, I need to blow off some steam.”

Luther's skygazing when the sound of Kaylee's approach shifts his attention to the running telepath. For a moment, he's blinking at her, anticipating the reason of her delayed arrival. But then her person is roaring. More blinking, and the glance down to her pocket.

He meets her smile with a chuckle of his own. "That's the sound you got for me?" he mock-huffs, not mad at all and in fact, amused. Luther shrugs lightly, noting, "Could be worse. Don't even want to know what Lou's tone might be. Remember that one time it was Mardi Gras trumpets?"

It was a brass ensemble loudly playing When The Saints Go Marching In. She'd said it reminded her of home. Also, because it was funereal. Like Luther's expression much of the time back when. Like Luther's expression sometimes still.

Any worry she had about Luther’s reaction to the ringtone is instantly discarded by his amusement. Kaylee visibly relaxes with his chuckle, her smile pulls a little crooked as she admits that, “Yeah it is. You ever see yourself in the morning before you had coffee?” It’s an affectionate tease of course.

Stepping past him, Kaylee leans out a little to look down the road, brows furrow and she glances at the schedule board. “We going to even make it?” Guilt tickled at her, looking back over her shoulder to Luther. They had been hitting the range hard lately, working her up to just being passable.

It was a hell of a challenge for everyone involved, though Luther has been getting the brunt of it really. Luther can see the slow shift of Kaylee’s demeanor, while they wait, as the weight of the task starts to settle on her shoulders.

Through rueful expression, Luther concedes his morning before coffee is definitely like the grumpy bear in Kaylee's phone. Even after coffee sometimes, but before food. They both know the signs of hangry mood well.

He watches as she steps and looks past, casting a glance down at his watch and then up again. "It'll be alright," he reassures, ever faithful of circumstance and present moment. When she seems to stress further, he straightens from the eased lean against the bus stop pole. "If it comes down to it, we'll go tomorrow or something." Easily solved, in Luther's mind. But, it likely doesn't answer the deeper problem weighing on Kaylee.

Soon enough, the Yamagato-provided bus comes rolling around the corner, a bit delayed itself. The ride is short and uneventful to the range, which gives them both a chance to relax and discuss merits and drawbacks of various dinner options.

"Alright, alright, but if you do hit a couple headshots, I'll buy," Luther says as they climb off the bus. "I insist. Because that's worth celebrating. And no throwin' the game because you feel bad." He almost wags a finger at her, but doesn’t. She gets the verbal waggle instead.

“So what you’re really telling me is I’m paying for dinner, again,” Kaylee teases with a chuckle, giving his arm a playful push as she steps off the bus. It is also a testament to her confidence in her ability to hit the target.

The telepath leads the way, but the sound of music nearby has her slowing so that she can search for the source.

A few businesses down, upbeat music thumps loudly as a door opens letting a trio of giggling girls stumble out. The signage indicated it was a bar, by the savory smell that trails after the women… It serves BBQ.. A thought brings a wicked smile to Kaylee’s lips. Luther’s hand is snagged as the woman cuts across his path on a mission. The grab doesn’t linger, it only last long enough to pull his attention and turn him that way. “Screw it… I’m hungry now and a bar often has bar food. BBQ and bar food, equals good stuff.”

“Come on… “ Kaylee waves him to follow.

Luther makes a show of being pushed harder than Kaylee actually does, leaning to a side before shifting back along with the rolling motion of the bus coming to a stop. "You'll get there, I promise," the man replies to the telepath, though her distracted state leads him to also look for the source of it.

Then it's his turn to be briefly distracted. The girls coming out of the bar get a blink, the scent of food gets a longer sniff. The tug brings him back, gets him moving along with a lurch in his step. "But… We're definitely going to miss the range hours." The protest stutters along, then falls behind when the scent of delicious smoked meats curls along, pinches at his nose. He sighs faintly, surrendering to the pull.

Luther's not far behind her with his long-legged stride catching him up soon enough. He even reaches over to pull the door open when they arrive and tilts his head to usher Kaylee in. "Don't think this means you aren't pulling a double training tomorrow," he chides nevertheless.

Kaylee had planned to open the door for him, but longer arms and legs prevail. Instead, she turns that energy into a grin and a tease. “Food first, then we can negotiate the price of this detour,” he gets a poke in the chest, before stepping into the place and being swallowed up by the music and the loud humming of a crowd of minds. There is a small grimace, but after a moment she adjust easily enough.

A tall table with newly vacated chairs is spotted; a tug on his sleeve and a point draws Luther’s attention to it.

“Look!” Kaylee’s excitement managed to overcome the voices and the thump of music, when she settles into one of the bar height stools at the table. Again a point works to pull his attention to, “A jukebox! When was the last time you saw one of those?” For obvious reasons the telepath doesn’t frequent bars often.

At the moment, Kaylee looked like a kid that found a new and exciting toy.

Luther doesn't ever - well, hardly ever - argues with food first. He trails a step behind Kaylee as they enter and out of habit scopes the atmosphere, the people, the bar, the exits. A tug on his sleeve turns his focus back to the telepath. Once they've settled, he's back to taking things in.

At the pointing out of the jukebox, and moreover her reaction, Luther grins more fully. "It's been awhile," he admits as he looks to the music machine. "Think that diner upstate had one like it, but not the dance floor to go with it." Not that there's much space in this small bar, but a square of polished wood in front of the machine is deemed enough.

He senses the excitement in her, reaching over to nudge her off. "Well go on. Give it a closer look and let me know what they got." He notably doesn't budge even though he’s urging her to investigate.

With all the pain and stress going on in the telepath’s life - even if she was doing it to herself - there is a rare smile of pure giddiness and excitement at the idea of the jukebox. Some expressions seem to translate across time and space, this was one of them.

There was a certain enthusiasm that Kaylee had towards living in the moment.

This means it takes very little encouragement for Kaylee to hop off the stool to take a look at what it has to offer. “They come by for a drink order, iced tea.” Not that she really needs to tell him that. How often do they hang out? If he doesn’t know that by now…

She starts to head for the thing, when a thought brings Kaylee up short. Turning, the telepath leans on the table. “Any requests before I go? A favorite song maybe?” A blonde brow arches, a mimic of his own, a bright and playful smile on her lips. “I can see if they got it for you. Only fair since I forced you here.” Not that she really did, but she instigated.

Luther tips his head in acknowledgment of the drink order, quirking a smile at seeing her slip off the stool. "Roger that," he confirms, only to blink as she stops and turns to query his song.

He blinks again. She can see the mental catalogue he's flipping back through, a number of titles invisibly scrolling over the man's gaze until he settles on one. The smile he wears dims but a second, then broadens as he confirms inwardly to himself before the revealing. "Favorite song," he answers, "Billy Joel. You May Be Right." If it's on there, he'll be surprised. But it's an upbeat song, so the possibility is greater than some other slow ballad. "If they got it. If not? Lady's choice."

Thus sent off with that mission, he waits at homebase for the host to come around, eventually placing their orders. Beer and a large iced tea.

Luther can see Kaylee looking over the choices, fingers drumming to the beat of the current song, while the others flips through choices. There is a pause and she flips back again, he can’t see the grin when she makes her selection. She flips a bit more and makes another, before relinquishing it for another guy waiting. He gets a saucy wink as she moves away, not noticing the look of interest after her.

This is probably the most relaxed Luther has seen her in sometime, there is even a little swing to her hips as she lets herself be wrapped into the fold of sound.

When it ends, he can see Kaylee look his way with a bright and excited smile… he knows why when the sound system belts out the familiar music uniquely belonging to a long gone group, C&C Music Factory.

Everybody Dance Now!

Almost immediately the telepath feels that beat, familiar and welcoming, and she starts singing along… which he can’t hear from there. In that moment it is hard to believe this woman was edging on 40 and a mother of three. Kaylee felt 20 again. It had been ages since she let loose on an actual dance floor, the experienced swivel of hips and her body moving with a fluid grace that comes from someone who knew a thing about dancing. Her friend gets a wink and somehow makes the motion of beckoning him over look like a dance move, before she turns her focus fully to the music.

This was a side of her that Luther has never seen before, one that Kaylee hid away a long time ago.

Leaning on his elbows, Luther watches the telepath saunter off to the jukebox with a mildly crooked smile. The interaction at the music stand only gets a casual internal note of observation, because the server comes by with drinks. He's tipping his beer back, mid-swallow when Kaylee's chosen song plays.

The mouth of the bottle covers his surprise well, but not entirely. But while he sees the summons to the stage, the man merely smiles back. A touch of self-consciousness turns the expression wry. He's watching, though, and seeing the telepath move to the groove is well and good.

Kaylee's not left alone for long, though. The man she had winked at takes the invitation meant as a freebie for him, and bops over to join the dancing before Luther gets the chance to reconsider. The new guy has rhythm, obviously having done this plenty times before.

When her invitation gets turned down by her friend, Kaylee sticks out her tongue just a little and a fake pouts. It is obviously only a tease, because from there he can see her laugh and shake her head. But, Kaylee doesn’t linger on his refusal long, going back to concentrating on her moves.

Well, at least until the guy comes up on her, unexpectedly.

When his hands grab at Kaylee’s hips from behind, she jumps and her rhythm falters. The telepath whips around and plants a hand on the man’s chest. Something is said between them, a glance towards him, her head shakes a bit. Whatever is said, the two fall back into the music. Front Luther’s seat, he can see the tension, her moves turning stiff and that hand never really leaves the guys chest.

Lucky for Kaylee, another woman moves in to lure away her partner. Of course, the man is more than happy to oblige. Giving the telepath a chance to shimmy away and make her way back to the table. Cheeks are flush and Kaylee is clearly out of breath… more importantly.

Kaylee is in good spirits.

“Missed you out there. Should have joined me,” she teases, drawing the glass of tea towards her and taking a deep drink.

Her fake pout receives a countering smirk around the mouth of his beer. Luther is unrepentant, having declined for the sake of sparing the bar's patrons some level of empathic humiliation. He feels, anyway.

His eyes spot the other man moving in, watching as she startles at the hip grab. Luther sits up straighter, attention focused on the situation. But it doesn't seem to escalate, and the distraction of another dance partner lets the tension out in the former security head too.

"Oh I think you covered enough ground for the both of us," is his ready rumble around the beer once she returns in good spirits. "It's almost like you were dancing to your favorite song." Though his gaze doesn't exactly leave her, he keeps the dance floor somewhere in the peripheral of it.

As he sets down the beer, Luther nudges a menu over. The faint, amused smile returns. "Are you hungry after all that funky gyrating?" He assumes she must be, because he adds, "My treat." And there'll be little heed of any protest or insistence on her part to pay even so.

“I don’t know if I have a favorite, so much as I love anything that makes me want to get up and dance.” Pressing a finger against the menu, Kaylee pulls it towards her, while wrinkling her nose at him, “And you should know better than to ask me about being hungry.” Picking up the menu, she turns her attention at the fare being offered.

“Yes!” Kaylee suddenly exclaims with an actual fist pump. Dropping the menu to the table, the woman is smiling with bright excitement. “They have pulled pork nach —” The telepath trails off, the smile falling away into a look of curiosity. Something over Luther’s shoulder catches her attention.

In fact, Luther gets only a quick glimpse of she’s watching as someone drops a folded piece of paper on the table. He’ll recognize the man she had danced with right away… and this guy is offering her another wink before moving on just as quickly.

The telepath glances at her friend across the table, before warily picking up the paper. Unfolding it slowly, her brows high, in fact, they have never shot up so fast. Whatever it is, she is totally stunned. After a moment of staring at it, Kaylee turns the paper towards Luther with a confused look.

Call me…
- Trenton

Under the message? The guy’s phone number and Kaylee looked a bit like a deer in the headlights.

The Only Thing to Fear

May 28, 2019

When the main doors to the offices of Fort Jay, Luther’s waiting is over. Kaylee steps out into the light, squinting up at the bright sunlight while gingerly folding a packet of paperwork. There is a set her mouth and an almost jittery manner to her.

Kaylee looked… scared. Anxious.

Though when the telepath looks up, it all falls away into a brighter smile; though a hint of that fear still clings at the edges. “You waited.” Just like he said he would, but by her tone she, clearly, didn’t think he would be there; she had only asked him to go with her to the door.

In fact, she moves to join him on the bench, letting out a deep breath. “Well… I did it.” She offers the packet to him, so he can look if he wishes. “They know everything I can do now.” Stress strains her voice as she says that.

“I’m scared, Luther.”

Kaylee admits, looking up at him. “One of my biggest fears has always been this. Everything that I am is now out there and I’ve seen what that kind of information could do.” Of course, that was before the war. “Even the guy taking the report gave me looks, I could hear him coming to conclusions and seeing the possibilities. If the wrong person sees this and decides I’m too dangerous…?” She trails off and takes a deep breath, hands nervously rub together with her anxiety.

Kaylee looks out at the water, not far from where they are. The sound of the ferry echoing. “Am I being unreasonable?” It’s apparent she's struggling with what she’s done.

“Did you tell him he had nothing to fear, but fear itself? And spiders. Fear and spiders.”

Luther hasn’t budged from the bench he’d sat upon when she’d stepped away to head into the SESA offices. Even if he’d wanted to accompany her in, it wasn’t his place and he knew it. And she had to face this fear. “I’m still sorry that you had to go it alone,” he says as he looks from the calm bay waters over to the fidgeting, anxious telepath.

“So now they know. So, now what? World’s still spinning. You’re still living. The hard part isn’t gettin’ your details down.” Luther reaches up with a hand to rub at the back of his neck, then suddenly looking restless and fighting off the urge to send a glance back at the SESA offices. As if they might be listening in on the pair’s conversation. After a beat, he continues in a quieter rumble, “The hard part is trying not to let the details get the better of you. You know? People already going to make assumptions. Lots of ‘em. They’ll see you for a list of traits on a card with your picture, a file stuck in a drawer. But only you are the one who knows what you’ll do.”

He shifts in his seat, angling to face her. A measure of guilt weighs on his mind as he looks at her more fully, studying her features and the worry in them. “You worry that… the things you do will drive people away. Or you drive ‘em away so they aren’t around to get hurt.” The hand at the back of his neck drops away back into his lap, and his gaze dips down as well. Fingers twine together, separate, and clutch at his knees.

In the near distance, the ferry grows ever closer on its trip to the island. Soon enough the other people who commute to and fro will intrude into the space they have carved.

He can see her glance his direction, even if her head doesn’t move. After a moment, Kaylee confirms what he says with a slight nod of her head. He was right. Of course he was. “You always seem to know my mind…” The comment edged with a bit of amused affection.

“Being a telepath is wonderful, but… also means being alone a lot of times. I’ve had people literally run from me at the word. Imagine if they saw that line up.” Her voice sounds small, as she nods to that paper. “But… it’s worse to have people hurt because of it… of what I am and what I can do… and now, they will be watching me that much closer at work, I’m sure.” There is a grimace at the thought.

“My biggest fear is losing the people I care about most, Luther. You included.” Kaylee offers him a weak smile, before watching the water again and letting it slide away again.

After a moment of quiet, brows lower and it’s Kaylee’s turn to shift her seat and turn where she can look at him fully, an arm hooked over the back of the bench and her fingers clasp. There is a thoughtful weight to that blue eyed gaze as it travels over his features. “Why didn’t you run away when you found out what I was? I mean… to be honest, I still don’t even know why you got in the car with me.” Not that she could explain why she asked the janitor along.

Kaylee can see where the confession of her biggest fear strikes a chord in her burlier companion seated beside her. He blinks several times, eyes turned to the ferry out upon the water and the surrounding waves churning off its bow. As she examines him, he works his jaw, chewing a bit over the mulled thoughts and memories.

"Nothing worse than being alone," he replies eventually, eyes still on the looming ferryboat. "Not like being alone like after a long day's work. But like Being alone and being… lonely. So, when you asked me to go along with you…" He trails, a multitude of reasons going unvoiced, but her being a telepath, she could easily sense the tumult of thoughts churning around, looking for an outlet but finding none.

Finally, he shifts his gaze back to the woman, wherein a sense of guilt haunts his expression in a faint overcast. The man swallows dryly with a bob of his Adam's apple, then pushes up a corner of his mouth in a wry smile.

"Besides, how could I say no to the pretty boss lady? Especially one who could compel me to go along anyway, with her mind?"

Luther inhales sharply with that levied attempt at humor to deflect the invisible dark cloud hanging over them.

Kaylee does see the humor that he is attempting, a small huffed chuckle before she turns back around is proof of that. “You have a point,” she quips quietly before falling silent again. He isn’t a telepath, so there is no way to know her thoughts. “I never regretted that decision.”

Her focus dipping her hands that are now rest folded in her lap, Kaylee takes her own deep breath. “We’ve sure been through a lot together since then, haven’t we?” A small smile touches her lips briefly, maybe a reaction to an errant thought.

However, the telepath doesn’t wait for him to confirm that fact, giving her knees a slap with both hands and standing up abruptly. It is an attempt at breaking the melancholy cloud over their heads. Then tucking her paperwork into a back pocket, Kaylee turns and offers both hands out to him with a bright smile, an unspoken offer to help leverage him to his feet. “All of it will be wasted if I don’t graduate.” Okay… maybe she’s being dramatic.

Kaylee’s head jerks towards the direction of the ferry and home. “You wanna join me for an exciting round of flash cards? We can grab food on the way.” Fingers wiggle waiting for him to take her hands and join her.

He's no telepath, but Luther has his own observations and musings from what he can read off of the woman's shifts in expressions. "I'll admit I had my doubts when you all first asked me to go down the rabbit hole at first," he says, shoulders rolling back as she stands.

The hands she holds out in offer get a glance, his head tilting at them, and he angles a look up at her. The invitation gets a smile, still wry, but wider. Instead of reaching out, he tucks his fingers into his pocket and pulls out an oblong shaped object wrapped in an attempt at being fancy with some black and silver striped wrapping paper. That’s what he’d had tucked in the back of his person and his mind.

The object is placed into her waiting hands which he clamshells with his own as he stands. "I guess I better go along with you to flashcards if you think you're still not ready. Because this isn't exactly returnable." His smile wanes a touch back to seriousness. "It's just a little thing… I meant to save it for the date, but it looked like my trip out is going to be smack dab in the week of it."

Luther looks out to the ferry as it starts to pull in towards the dock, then back to Kaylee. "Consider it… a pre-graduation incentive."

Even though she is a telepath, clearly Kaylee wasn’t expecting the gift that is tucked into her hands. There is no faking that surprise. Hands close around the present, but her mind catches on one fact. “Trip?” He was going to miss her graduation? “I —” A part of her wants to complain about him not being there, but…

Kaylee’s mouth closes and offers a sad, yet affectionate smile. Something about this had a bit of familiarity to it. A touch of deja-vu. “I’m sorry you can’t be there. I wish you could… Not sure I could have done all this without your support… or your friendship through all of this.” The telepath looks down at the package, hands spreading a look at the wrapping.

Visibly swallowing back emotions, Kaylee manages to slip a finger under the wrapping and carefully undoing the hard work he’s put into it. Of course, as soon as she sees the mirrored sunglasses within, Kaylee can’t help but give a short laugh. What he doesn’t see is the tears that follow right after, because there is no hesitation in her slipping them on.

Kaylee’s chin tips up with a touch of defiance, as she looks up at him; tears well hidden behind the mirrored frames. “Well?” Her voice filled with emotions, even though there is a bright smile on her lips. “Do I look the part?”


The upward pull of Luther's mouth corner twitches even as his angled brows pull in and his eyes duck their gaze down to the oblong package holding the case of aviators. "Yeah, I gotta go out there and see to some things," he replies faintly, his tone purposefully vague and the rumbled tone catching in his throat. He clears it lightly.

"You look good," Luther adds with a slow nod, seeing his grizzled featured visage mirrored back at him, his smile more subdued, wry in its twist. "You look… How do the kids that come around say it? 'Primal.'" RayTech security hasn't simply been hanging around for nothing.

Looking past her to the docks where a small line has gathered at the waterside, he takes a moment to wrap his head around a few stray pangs of guilt. "I'll make sure Bob sends me the pictures, alright?" he offers in compromise, even as he realizes how weak a consolation that may be. When he shifts his gaze back on to the telepath, Luther heaves out a sigh and a shake of his head to clear that as well.

Maybe she can sense that guilt somehow, because Kaylee’s own expression visibly softens; still a noticeable shift with her eyes behind the sunglasses. Hands move with the intention of bracketing his head, but stop half way and simply grip his arms. “Hey, it’s okay. Really, I know what that whatever is pulling you away is important. I… just…”

It’s her turn to look away, her gaze shifting down briefly. The sunglasses are pushed up on top of her head, allowing her to brush at the traitorous tears with the heel of her hand. “Just make sure to come back.” The word to me don’t seem to make it past her lips. Kaylee turns her eyes reddened up towards his with a sheepish smile. “Your one of my best friends, Luther. Probably, the best one I have.”

Why is she saying that? Cheeks flush lightly at the awkwardness of those words and it doesn’t get any better when she impulsively adds, “I honestly can’t imagine my life without you in it.”

Turning, Kaylee looks back at the dock and clears her throat, “Anyhow, we… ah… should probably get in line.” The telepath gives an embarrassed chuckles and motions him to come with. Especially, before you say too much, dummy!! she can’t help but think to herself.

The bob of his Adam’s apple pulls tight, as is Luther’s smile, as she holds him there. Big though he is, his thoughts are small, peeking from the dark thoughts at the back of his mind. Furrowed brow reflects off her donned glasses, creased in worry at the sight of her tears. If he were to admit the fear pooling in his mind’s mires, it’s the fear of the unknown fate that lies in the future.

“We’re just doing some sightseeing and stuff, vacationing and…” Luther can’t conceal the discomfort that lingers behind his explanations, so his rumbling trails off. “I’ll come back,” he states softly, head dipping in a slow nod. Grey eyes hold the promise part of it in silence.

Once she breaks off and moves the focus back to the docking ferry, he blinks and remembers to breathe deeper. “Yeah, let’s,” he says as he turns to keep pace with her. As they head down towards the people lining up in wait of the gangway, he rolls his shoulders back in a release of stiffness, looking over to the telepath from the side, at the sunglasses perched atop her head. His smile starts its return.

“Also? I could go for a cheeseburger.”

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