Within Range


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Scene Title Within Range
Synopsis Luther and Kaylee set down to training in the use of firearms, and discover something there when they're within range of each other.
Date January 2018 through March 2018

Choose Your Weapon

"Long Range Rifle"
"Assault Rifle"
"Thrown Projectiles"

January 2018

"Long Range Rifle"

Despite her being out of commission, Kaylee found that Luther had not been absent from her vicinity for very long at all. She wasn't able to patrol or go on the foot-traffic based runs, but neither was she entirely forbidden from helping out the team or relegated to Assistant Chicken Tender. Sometimes the orders would come from others. Esposito's paid a few visits to bring another bucket and salts for the telepath's feet (and the other woman has no doubt noted the attentions paid, but not commented). Krejci has come by to assign a different task or unloaded items to be sorted and delivered around camp while they're away.

But all in all, when Luther's come by, the visits are short and check up like. He doesn't stay long. He doesn't ask to see her feet and how they're healing, but looks with interest if she does have them exposed. And so, it's not long after Kaylee is finally able to walk and properly travel that Luther's come around again. The afternoon air is cold and crisp, and there's no snow on the ground but the breeze has a bite to it. He doesn't have a way to tell if Kaylee's inside her tent, save to ask the air around the flap. "Hey… You in?" Shifting the pair of rifles slung on his shoulder, he waits just outside.


Kaylee’s voice calls out from within. There is a touch of excitement to the tone, having finally been cleared from the bench, the telepath was ready to get back to things. With a slightly new pair of hiking boots and a healthy respect for proper care for her feet.

As much as she hasn’t minded her convalescence, it wasn’t the same as working beside Luther. Though that enthusiasm wanes a bit as she pops out of the tent and finds him standing there with rifles. Those were not the normal type she is used too.

Fingers brush strands of escaped hair, from her braid, behind her ear as she eyes the rifles. She was starting to be in need of a haircut herself. They sight of those weapons tells her: “We’re not going on a run today are we?” A black beanie is taken from the oversized BDU jacket and tugged over her head, brought low enough to cover the tips of her ears.

“Training day?” Kaylee asks curiously.

Luther waits outside patiently, noting the eagerness with which Kaylee emerges and the look he gets when she takes note of him and his irregular kit. There’s only a very light travel pack besides the rifles. The man nods once to confirm her curious suspicion. “This one’s for you.” He slings one of the two rifles off and holds it out for her to take. The tone suggests he doesn’t expect a rejection, but regards her in anticipation of her balking at the firearm. Ever since they’d met, he must have been noting the reluctance with which she handles guns.

“Because,” Luther continues, “you can’t be reliant on your power all the time. Targets move, they get out of range. Or…” He trails as he glances back over his shoulder at the rest of the camp for a moment, feeling like they might be watched, then turns back to Kaylee. “Or there could be a drone or other robot you gotta shoot down.” And once the gun is passed, he turns and heads off with the expectation that she’ll follow. They’ll continue conversation on the way.

Knowing better than to refuse what is being handed to her, Kaylee reluctantly reaches for the weapon. It clearly weighs more than he makes it look, the rifle is almost dropped when he lets go of it, but luckily the telepath recovers quickly. It sits with her arms curls around it like she’s clinging to it, as if her life depended on it.

Kaylee at least waits until Luther’s back is turned before she wrinkled her nose at the smell of gun oil… to be honest, possibly the man himself.

Finally, resigning herself to her fate, Kaylee hurries after the man. “You know that men have tried before and failed. I mean…” Words trail off as she finally adjusts her weapon and looks at it. There is a look of confusion. “What is this?” Yeah, he has a lot of work to do. “Is this like a sniper rifle or something? So big… kinda heavy.” The rifle is hefted as she tests the weight.

Lots of work ahead.

“No, it’s not a sniper rifle,” Luther rumbles in answer without even looking back at her. But by his tone, he sounds irritated by her distinct lack of recognition of the firearm. “It’s a hunting rifle,” the man goes on after a couple beats, “best damn gun you’ll want out here. Because it’s got range and firepower.” Sort of like Luther’s ability, it would seem, so he naturally gravitates towards using the firearm when they’ve gone out.

“Looks mean too.”

That remark accompanies a glance back over his shoulder at the blonde woman and an arch of one of his angled brows. But it’s the comment she made before asking about the gun that he feels he has to add a response to. “You been with many men about handling a weapon?” She doesn’t have to see it, or even use her power to know that joke was purposefully crude as fuck, and aimed to get a rise out of her. And to get her blood going, for some reason.

Luckily there is a shoulder strap connected to the gun allowing her to sling the heavy weapon across her body without having to heft it in her hands the whole way out to the dip in the grounds nearby that serves as a makeshift landfill. And target range. There, a number of various objects have been set up including a wood and metal scrap “hunter”, and a few stick-bots with terribly silly faces painted onto the bullet hole ridden buckets and bits of siding that serve as heads and faces.

Obviously, Luther did not paint them.

“Post up over there,” Luther points at one end of the range where there is a plank of wood laid between two metal folding chairs that acts as their table. Interestingly enough, though, there are a couple sets of ear muffs - likely pilfered from an airport or somewhere - awaiting use.

There is a soft “Ooooh” sound behind him when he tells her what type of weapon that is. “With as much time as I hung around Kain, you’d think I’d know better,” which seems like it is more murmured to herself.

Then suddenly there is a… “Shut up, Tyler… I told you, dad wouldn’t… “ There is a heavy sigh. “Whatever,” Kaylee hisses out and slings the rifle over her shoulder. The woman hurries her pace to catch up, just in time for Luther’s crude joke.

That joking question earns him a solid punch in the arm. “Luther Bellamy! That is none of your gawd damn business.” He might have hit a nerve. Cheeks red as he has ever seen them, Kaylee slips past him and marches her way down to the spot indicated. Though once there, the targets are spotted and the flustered and embarrassed look fades into amusement. Motion towards the targets with a jerk of her thumb, she can’t help but ask, “Cooper?” From what she’s seen of the guy, this seems like him. “Or Eve?” Her too…

He does think that she should know better. Probably why Luther’s brought her out here with the intent to learn just how badly her training has been lacking. If he hears the muttering one-sided conversation she has with Tyler, he doesn’t comment on the nature or topic. More likely, he hadn’t heard. Most likely, he’s thinking his own thoughts and possibilities of what moments come next. Especially after his tease at her.

The punch in his arm gets but a twitch, almost like the force has seeped into his dark coat and person. The impact still gets him to turn his head and side eye her, though. A short consideration of a counter dissipates as he twists a corner of his mouth up, the tip of a tooth peeking between the split of his lips. He’ll come to his own conclusions of that reaction and answer… even if he might be totally wrong.

“Sure, we let the kids do some arts and crafts,” he notes of the shift of topic to painted targets, and unshoulders his rifle to set down on the plank. Safety on. The man picks up the ear protection, passing one over to the telepath. “So who taught you about shooting? Kain?” Who is he going to preload his blame towards?

“Peter,” Kaylee answers off-handedly taking the ear protection, after her own rifle is set down on the table. “Only a few times though and not anything this big. Handguns mainly.” There is a moment of thought as she adjusts the ear protection, “A few other guys beyond that, but… they always disappeared or got sick and died.” The way she says that is almost disturbingly conversational. Then again, she might not be trying to think too hard about that point.

The ear protection is hooked over her ears and she looks at him with a lopsided smirk - probably knowing she looks silly - before pushing them off to hang around her neck. Ready for instruction, she asks, “Think you can do better than them, Drill Sergeant? You that confident in your ability?”

She doesn't sound convinced. Then again, she might just be teasing him to get a rise out of him.

The name drop gets a short huff of disbelief. “Twinkletoes?” Luther remarks of the man, but it comes with an underlying appreciation for what the other man is capable of. Luther just happens to have an added sense of friendly rivalry along with it. Which is how Kaylee’s successful in tweaking the man’s sense of competition. Luther steps closer to her side, looking down at her with that confidence glinting within his gaze.

He leans down, gray eyes meeting blue. “I do,” he rumbles, “And I am.” The linger there shifts to a then business-like mode as he turns away and down to the rifles. For all his gruffness, Luther takes to instruction like any other battle plan. Short and to the point, and repetitious only when he needs to be. Once the basics of the gun are explained, he picks his up and demonstrates firing position and holding the gun. Then, lowers his rifle and indicates to her. “Now you. Don’t forget the safety.” He slides on the ear protection then, and waits, watching the technique and if she’s managed to retain it all.

The nicknames gets a bark of laughter from the telepath that is quickly covered with both gloved hands. Another snerk comes from behind those hands. “That name… if my Peter had heard that.” She bites her lip suddenly, as invoking the Peter she knew brings up memories. The pain of those losses was duller than it’s been in the past.

But it subdues her enough to listen in on the lesson, nodding to show she was hearing him… and asking him once or twice to repeat cause Tyler was a bit loud at that moment.

When he finally turns to her with expectation, he can see the uncertainty settle in. A look is sent to the targets and then to Tyler, or the blank area next to her. You can do this. She starts to pick up the gun, then remembers the ear protection. So the rifle it set down long enough to put those on; cheeks flushed in embarrassment.

The stance in her mind is correct, but it’s not even close. She does remember to take off the safety and settles the weapon in to place. Biting her lower lip, Kaylee finally takes the shot. The kick of it, surprising her a little.

Meanwhile, downrange….

There is a puff of dirt far to one side of the target.

Well then…

Hearing Kaylee laugh and mention her Peter in that breath, Luther cocks his head aside, blinking at her. He defends his unofficial nickname for Peter Petrelli, citing, "He flies around like Peter-fuckin'-Pan." Not to mention the boyishly good looks that Luther could not compete with if the ladies and gents were to prefer that type of physical appearance. But anyway.

He has little regard for Tyler's interjections. No regard, really, because he can't hear the head-ghost peanut gallery'ing in Kaylee's mind as he instructs. But once they're getting into actually shooting, Luther goes quiet and observes. The stance being so wrong, noted with an inhale, expanding his chest. A slow blink as she bites her lip, pulls the trigger. Luther's eyes close for a long moment. He doesn't have to look. He can hear that there wasn't a strike of the metal-on-metal.

"You're tense," he notes with an opening of his eyes again. "Take a breath. Look down the sights at the target. Exhale and pull." He motions for her to try again.

Kaylee’s expression is flat as she looks down range. “I told you I wasn’t good at this,” she growls out. She’s probably been around the man a bit long.

When instructed to go again, there is a heavy sigh from the telepath as if resigning herself to it. The rifle is brought up again with eyes narrowing to look down the length of it. Her stance shifts a bit, but is still off. Though not as bad as it had been with the first shot.

A deep breath is taken, thought her form still doesn’t relax. When she breathes out the gun goes off. The shot his the ground again, not far from the first. Irritation shoots through her and she doesn’t even wait for his instruction, she shifts again…. Then fires. It goes wide to the other side of the target.

There is a sounds of frustration from the telepath, hissed through clenched teeth, and her rifles is dropped on the table. Kaylee stalks away from it needing some distance from it, before she throws it, fingers shoved through hair, dislodging some from her ever present braid. “Every time,” she grumbles to no one.

“You’re still tense.” Luther’s tone is strangely patient when she goes wide the second time, not indulging her self-deprecation when she growls. The third, impatient shot going wide on the other side gets an almost humored snort that isn’t heard under the ear protecting muffs. He has to look away, down range, to study wideness of her miss and consider why. The adage ‘it’s so bad, it’s funny’ springs up in mind.

But it’s not funny for her. And her frustration draws Luther’s attention back as she stalks away. “Hey! Don’t you quit on me,” he snaps at her back, moving after her the head her off. The man rounds around her, looming in front to block her retreat and stands there. “We’re not leaving yet.” A beat passes and he points back to the gun table. “We’re not going to leave ‘til you get over your shit and take out a few fuckin’ targets with that gun. Now get your ass back over there, and pick up the rifle.”

And he’ll brook no argument about it, as he turns towards the targets down range, lifts his rifle in hand and aims down the sights. The trigger pulls. A bullet pings off the metal bucket head of the “hunter”. He adjusts, pulls again, a second shot hits one of the “soldiers” square in the torso. And a third shot is purposefully placed on the round bullseye target on a painted butt on a Centurion’s “face”.

Luther lowers his spent rifle when the physical demonstration is over, turns to stare at Kaylee expectantly, and narrows his eyes, expecting her to turn back.

There hadn’t really been a plan to fully walk away, but when the man suddenly looms looking rather intimidating and demanding she go back, a part of her wants to push back at him. He might even see that momentary flash of irritation and barest lift of her chin; but something stops her.

Watching that demonstration, Kaylee is impressed by the skill shown, but these people are the products of their own world. Deflating some after his demonstration, the telepath can’t help but think, Why was she so bad at this?!?

She is still staring at the last target he’s hit, when she feels his eyes on her. There is a heavy (and maybe slightly exaggerated) sigh, shoulders drooping. “Fine,” Kaylee concedes, turning back to the table and her rifle.

By time they are forced to give up for the day, at least, Kaylee will finally ping one of the metallic foots of the target. Take small victories where you can get them.

January 2018

"Assault Rifle"

There’s a saying about falling off horses and getting back on them. What the saying doesn’t specify is the amount of time one spends off the horse, recovering from the fall. Luther’s fall happened to come from a particularly high horse. The target practice with a long range rifle wasn’t exactly anything he could deem a success. But, it did give him any idea.

The man tramps through the camp with several items strapped to him, amongst them a couple of assault rifles. The sort used by the soldiers of the DoEA and one machine gun that looks like it could be mounted on a tank rather than carried by a singular man. Eyes turn and observe as he finally stops at Kaylee’s tent and sets down one of the boxes of ammo in one hand. “Come on out,” he calls inside, “Esposito said you were in here. We’re going back to the range.”

No sense in hiding what he’s here to do, given how many pieces he’s got slung around him. Either he’s headed to the range to blow off steam, or he’s about to make some poor soul’s life very miserable and bullet-ridden. Either way, the others around the camp have stayed away or not bothered to ask what the Beast is hunting for.

There is a soft groan from in the tent at the mention of the gun range, again. “Come on, Luther, didn’t you learn…” Whatever Kaylee was going to say dies on her lips when she sees everything he as. There is a surprised blink, before she looks up at him.

“What is all of this?” Spotting the machine gun, Kaylee can’t help but stare a him holding it for a long moment; until a thought has her paling a little. Looking about ready to disappear back into her tent to escape, she gives a shake of her head, “I don’t know if this is a good idea…” Though she looks at it all and gives a resigned sigh. “Alright… “

Ducking into the tent, Kaylee comes out with a knit red scarf around her neck and shrugging into her Army jacket. She knows she’ll regret it, but she asks, “Anything I can help carry? Or do I get to watch you be all macho and carry it all yourself?” There is a tease there maybe a flirt to the observant… maybe… her mouth dipping into her thick scarf to hide the smile on her lips, while she tugs on her gloves.

"Nope." Perhaps the only thing Luther has learned to be is even more stubborn than the telepath when rising to the challenge of figuring out Kaylee's firearms training. The day's form of digging in his heels comes in the form of all the assault weapons he's brought along. The man does appear like he's ready to be a one man army. In some ways, he is.

Bearing the brunt of her stare, Luther waits, letting her come to the realization on her own what today's training will be using. "It's a machine gun," he answers bluntly to her question. Her hesitation gets an annoyed snort. "You're not getting out of this." When she relents and retreats into the tent, he waits again, lurking outside. Another camper passing by pauses to blink at the sight of Luther and the brandished guns, receives a look from the man, and hurries on.

Once Kaylee re-emerges with scarf around her neck, he turns back to look her up and down again, settling on her face when she offers to carry. The tease doesn't escape him. He hesitates for a split second, then dismisses an errant thought of her appearance as his own imagination before nodding to the rectangular metal ammo can he'd set down earlier. "Grab that, and let's go." He doesn't mention that the full container weighs quite heavy, and were it not for gloves to provide added protection, the metal handle would likely cut into skin.

A glance down to the box on the ground gets a bit of a shrug. Okay. So he’s giving her a little…

There is an ‘oomph’ sound as Kaylee moves to picks up the ammo can. How could something so small be that heavy. Taking a moment to shift her grip on the handles and shift the weight, she tries to make the lift less biting. Holy— She might need a few rest breaks to shift her grip on the way to the range; already feeling the bite. However, the telepath is stubborn and bites her lip against the pain.

“How the heck do you carry all of this yourself?” Kaylee asks through gritted teeth as she moves to follow him. Clearly, she is far more out of shape then him. A few thoughts about that strength drift through the telepath’s mind, but she clamps down on them quickly and pushes them away. Focus.

By time they reach the range, she might be panting and the jacket might be a little warm. When she moves to lower it to the ground, her grip slips, and with a yelp it drops heavily with a clatter. Cheeks flush red, while rubbing her sore palm. “Sorry,” she murmurs.

The distance to the range hasn't changed, but the weight they carry makes it somewhat slow. Thankfully there's no hurry, and though he seems patient enough to wait for her to adjust her grip and recover, Luther does go so far as to suggest she could let him carry it. If she wanted.

To answer how he manages to carry it all, Luther looks back and shrugs one of those laden shoulders. "There was a time I carried almost everything I owned on me. Been at it longer," he rumbles out plainly. The tone implies it may have been a long time ago. And so they trudge on in the present, until they come to the plank and bucket combination table and can finally drop all their gear. This time, waiting for them are a couple of bottles of water resting in another bucket. Though Luther looks puzzled by the presence, he doesn't seem to question it and sets the light assault rifles down.

The clatter of the ammo can handle against itself gets a glance over, and Luther tilts his head at Kaylee. The amusement doesn't show exactly, only the pause and faintest twitch of his eyebrows upwards might give it away. And his thoughts. And the short clearing of his throat before he motions for her to pick up one of the two rifles.

After a short explanation of the firearm's handling and safety features - shorter than the other session with the long range rifle - he this time steps over to nudge, knuckle, and adjust a few spots of her stance. "Alright, same as before. You gotta look down the sights and line 'em up. Don't put your face too close, this one's got a kick." Hopefully, she'll remember. This time, Luther lingers nearby but slightly behind her, observing more closely.

The bottles get a curious look, but then quickly dismissed as just him being prepared for the day of training. Their last session had taken some time, clearly he was set for another long session.

Her ear protection is hooked behind her neck and the light rifle is picked up and studied. The uncertainty is there, ever present; maybe a little nervousness. When he speaks up, Kaylee settles into listening to the lesson. He can’t fault her for not listening, she pays attention and even asks questions. So she feels pretty comfortable with the weapon, but when it comes to shooting, the anxiety returns.

Taking a deep breath and taking a shooting stance, Kaylee is a bit surprised when Luther moves in to correct her. The touches seem to have her very aware that he’s there. She tries not to think about it, focusing on the target sighted down the length of the weapon. Her head starts to dip towards the weapon, before she remembers and lifts it a little again.

“You can do this,” Kaylee whispers under her breath. Letting out a breath, she fires. Still missing, but it wings the target. There is a look of hope and she fires off a few more round each still missing, but closer than the last time. Still the woman hisses out a few choice words in irritation.

“There, don’t get impatient,” Luther tries to advise around the pockets of gunfire. The phrases come out firmly, but not barked out as if commanded. Check your stance. Don’t pull the trigger until you’re sure. Watch the recoil. Your face is too close. After she’s managed to strike the targets a few more times, he steps forward again to tap a finger on her shoulder, pausing the short-burst effort.

“You want to give the big one a go?”

His question tinged with curiosity and a little eagerness, Luther he nods towards the machine gun laid on the table. The firearm’s bullets sit in the ammo can she’d carried along with them.

There is a bright smile angled his way after that last one hits the target, even though she missed far more then she hit. Far, far more, but Kaylee will take that small victory. At the mention of the big gun, Kaylee lowers the rifle and lets it hang from one hand at her side. Looking a little… uncertain, she looks over at the gun and then back at him brows lifted.
“You expect me to pick up that monster?” Kaylee asks with a touch of amusement. “And be able to fire it? I don't know. That seems like a bit much for me to handle.” Turning the rifle to where she can rest it against the bench on its butt. The telepath reaches for the machine gun, to heft it, and test the weight of it. “This thing must weight a thousand pounds-“ Obvious exaggeration “-and you carried it on your shoulder like it was almost nothing? Dang Luther.” She sounds impressed.
Luther eases his posture to a casual stance, arms crossed lightly over his chest at her initial uncertainty. “You’re handling things well, all things considered. Think you hit the target… twice? Three times?” It’s impossible to tell with the amount of bullets they’ve collectively shot at the targets in the distance. Some day, they’ll change the targets out.

Her amusement and reach for the machine gun to lift it gets a short chuckle out of Luther. Particularly when she mentions it’s a bit much to handle, his thoughts take a momentary turn for the crass. It fades into a wry smile, fleeting as it is when he turns to gun on the table and fiddles with a few things on it as she holds the gun in her hands. “This one, you’ll want to stand your ground with,” he says as he makes a couple of adjustments by her. “Set yourself up in a good spot and let’s have some fun.”

He means the gun, of course. The firearm gets heaved up, tripod legs unfurled to swing out and he starts the way down further along the range to a decent spot where they can post up. She’ll have to lie prone on the cold, frozen ground, though, as she discovers how the gun works.

The smile is noted and there is a sudden mischievous glint, though like his smile, it is fleeting. Especially after Kaylee sees she has to lay on that ‘Fucking Cold Ass Ground’ (T M). Brows lift high as the machine gun settles into place and he motions her to take her spot. “This is crazy,” she comments with amusement to no one in particular.

Still she lowers herself to the ground just behind the gun. She rests her chin on her hands, ankles hooked together and lifted where they swing a little. Kaylee looked a lot like a woman at a sleepover waiting to hear the latest gossip. “Alright, big guy, ready and awaiting instruction.” One hand moves to pat the gun like a favorite pet, her smile bright, “Get down here and show me how this baby works.”

No excuse given for the "FCAG", Luther finishes his set up and catches that amused comment. Brows lift, a wicked, toothy smile curling on his mouth corners. "Crazy's right," he agrees as she settles into the spot, taking a moment to observe her prone form. Appreciate the physical appearance.

The spell breaks when she bids him to join her, and then he regains himself with squeeze of his brows down and back to business. Training, rather. Luther lowers himself first to a kneel, explaining the differences when firing from the position she's in and what was done before. Once it's time to fire, he finalizes with, "We don't break 'er out until we mean business. DoEA's got some heavy shit, as you know. But that doesn't mean you can't have a little fun about it. Go on and give it a whirl. Remember… It's gonna be fuckin' loud." That said, he slips the muffs back over his ears, lying beside her to watch.

That uncertainty returns as the lesson is given. It’s freakin’ cold, but luckily the front of her starts to numb. There is a touch of fear and appreciation of the weapon when he tells her to give it a go. Kaylee starts to say something, but stops as something catches her attention.

By now Luther knows when Kaylee’s mental guest has arrived.

Once his ear protection is on, he’ll see Kaylee look to the side of her, “Your opinion is not needed or wanted, Tyler.” She shifts her own headgear up into place as she adds, “I’m having fun, just let me have this okay?” Of course, since he is in her head, Kaylee can’t really block him out. “I am not.”

There is an apologetic look cast Luther’s way, it’s always so awkward when Tyler comes calling. Trying to ignore her mind’s other occupant, Kaylee shifts to take control of the intimidating weapon. A look of concentration comes over her as she tries to aim it. With a flicker of fear, she pulls the trigger. The loud report of the weapon is startling, though the way it tears at the target, gets a pleasantly surprised grin.

“Oh my god, Luther, that is so scary… and yet so freakin’ cool!”

The look Kaylee turns to him is the brightest it’s been, excited with flushed cheeks. Though he might noticed the chattering of her teeth, that distorts the words. Even the hands on the controls tremble with how cold she is. She wasn’t equipped like he is against the icy ground.

The lesson goes on steadily, where she’ll note the affection with which Luther seems to regard the weapon they’re using. Or perhaps it’s merely respect for the firearm and its power. He pauses, too, when he recognizes the interruption of Kaylee’s psychological roommate. The frown returns, gray eyes flick to the invisible air beside her. Luther hasn’t asked very many questions about Tyler or what the ghost-man says or does. He still doesn’t, now. By now, he’s practically accepted the oddity about Kaylee, sticking by the ‘no harm no foul’ mantra.

It’s just a little annoying. “You done, class clown?” he rumbles towards that air space, waiting a beat, then pulls on the ear protection.

Once the weapon fires, he looks from the targets down range to Kaylee. Her surprised grin reflects as he grins back. The man reaches over her, using his hand to guide hers to the switch that changes the gun into a full auto. Unlike her chilled fingers, his bear a heat that feels almost feverish in temperature compared to their environment. Luther doesn’t seem to even notice the difference. “Alright, now, open ‘er up,” he tells her.

It is probably good that the cold air has already colored her cheeks, cause having his hand touch hers, even if hers are gloved, makes her suddenly very aware that they are laying there next to each other on the cold ground. It takes a moment for the warmth to seep into her gloves, so by time she realizes he is warm he’s already let go.

“Ar-r-r-re you al-l-lways so war-r-rm?” Teeth chatter quite a bit now, though she uses them to pull her glove off, before shifting enough so she can grip his hand. Her fingers are turning red and are like ice when she grips his hand, curious surprise at the warmth of his skin. “Is t-t-this par-r-rt of-f-f your-r-r ability?”

It takes a little shifting, but she curls both hands around his, savoring the warmth. The trembling much more noticable and along where her body touches his now. “Oh m-m-my god, that f-f-feels good-d-d. N-n-no wonder-r-r you see so comf-f-fortable in this-s-s cold. I just-t-t thought-t-t I was b-b-being w-w-weak.”

Kaylee's return touch is unexpected, and Luther turns his attention away from the machine gun back to her. "I…" He blinks at her hands cupped around his, then to her face where she's gone red with the cold. The man furrows his brow. She can feel the air around him intensify as he focuses on his ability in those moments, pushing from his own energy into a bubble of warmth around them.

"Your hands 're freezing," he rumbles out after a long, quiet beat. He only mentions her hands, but he's recognized that the rest of her is, too. The snow around them has melted into circle around them, along with the casings where they've fallen. After further silence he turns back to the targets down range and adds after a low pitched clearing of his throat, "Have a go… these bullets aren't gonna fire themselves, and I don't want to have to haul that full can back." Despite their guns normally being low on ammunition, he insists on her getting the full experience.

“Just-t-t a little,” Kaylee jokes lightly, fingers curled around his. The change in the air around them in noticable, as well as the melting of the snow around them. The fact that he is doing that, touches something deep within. Her heart kind of skips a beat, forcing a bit of a catch of her breath. Though it comes out as soft sigh as her body slowly starts relaxing in the warmth the man creates.

“Thank you,” Kaylee says. The words heartfelt along with the smile she rewards him with. Suddenly conscious that she’s still holding that hand, she lets go of it and works her glove back on.

Fingers curl back around the machine gun with enthusiasm and a wicked smile; but she hesitates. She starts to say something, but stops… however, whatever it is bothers her. “We sure about this?” she asks timidly, as if worried she might upset him by asking, with a glance his way. “That we should be wasting ammo like this?” Her attention goes to the gun and back to the targets. “I can’t imagine this type is easy to come by.”

With a short shake of his head, Luther does answer with a grumble and a release of a frosty snort. "Just fire the damn gun, woman," he says as he shifts his positioning a few inches away further from her, clearing a space and giving her room to react to the power of the firearm. "We don't get much chance to use these out in the field anyway. Too noisy… We'd get lit up like Christmas by the drones."

But it does seem that the man's comfortable enough where he is that he doesn't mind the roar of the guns here, as evidenced when they and others have come by to fire other arms. Still, his next words almost soften the edge to the growl as he adds with a sidelong look at her from the corner of his eye, "And I pray you'll never have to fire it outside this range."

“Fine I’ll fire the damn gun,” Kaylee fires back, though it is edged with a chuckle. Glancing over at him out of the corner of her eye, her mouth curled into an affectionate smile for the man. The smile does fade a little at the more serious tone of his words, the reality of where they are sinking in again, like the cold around them.

Despite that there is still that look of excitement as she lets the loose with another volley or two. The bigger caliber bullets tear through some of the targets, at least one spraying out shards of wood. Chuckling when she lets go, the telepath’s cheeks flush with the exhilaration. “God I hope not either,” Kaylee finally comments, a little breathless with a big satisfied grin. “But woe to the poor bastards on the other end of this thing.”

There is a jerk of Kaylee’s head to motion him over and pushes the butt of it towards him. “Come on. Can’t let me have all the fun. Show me what you got, drill sergeant.”

Grabbing at the protective earmuffs to further press them against his head, Luther readies for her to do just that. And when the machine gun roars out bullets and casings drop like hot stones to steam in the snowy, muddy, icy ground, it’s no secret how much Luther enjoys watching things get torn to pieces in a deep, visceral feeling. Excitement translates into a broad, toothy grin like the one he’d given her during their first run ins with other scavengers and bandits. Somehow this turned into fun.

“Fuck yeah,” he says, sucking in a breath as that acrid gunsmoke dissipates around them. The push of the gun stock towards him leads to a tempering of the fierce glint of his grey eyes. Her encouragement is all he really needs to scoot closer and grab the weapon. “Ear muffs on,” he confirms aloud, and then wraps his finger around the trigger.

They don’t spend the whole day there, but by the time they’re done, the ammo can is a whole lot lighter to carry back than when they started.

February 2018


The smell of gun oil and fired gunpowder was becoming familiar to Kaylee. The light ringing in her ears couldn’t overpower the humming of the mind across from her, but it brought a different note to that sounds in her head…. even the vocal ones.

“I will definitely feel that in the morning,” the comment is addressed to both men, one real and the other mental. A hand shifts from where it has a loose hold on the shotgun she was firing and tenderly touches where the jerking of the stock connected with the shoulder. When it came to the shotgun lessons, she always ended up bruised.

Time had passed since the fire fight that had badly injured the man across from her, cleaning his own weapon. If he catches her looking, Kaylee gives him a somewhat shy smile, quickly looking back down at the shotgun and the oiled rag she was running along it. It felt awkward being near him since that day. Certain aspects of that day are still sharp in her memory.

For many reasons, but one in particular was getting hard to ignore. “It’s been a few months since I got here, we’ve spent a decent amount of time together. I would say we’re friends. Right?” Kaylee always hated having to make him grouse and growl, but this was important. Oiling done, the telepath gets ready to beat a hasty retreat; swinging the strap over her shoulder and picking up a partially empty box of bullets.

Taking a step back, her brows go up in a matter of fact look. “Everyone is afraid to say it, but I’m going out on a limb here and I’m going to say it as your friend. Please get a bath.” Kaylee looks pained for having to say it. “Cooper brought in that water tanker. Use it.” For the love of god goes unsaid, but it might be said in her ear, by an invisible voice. “For me at least, since I lo-” a pause, “like, really like spending time with you, but even I'm asking you to please, Luther, take a bath.”

Kaylee is happy to beat a retreat and let him think about that or he can follow and growl at her, the choice is his.

They weren't alone on the range to begin with today, but the others have since left. Esposito was the last to leave, making a short excuse of going to check on Krejci, who has not yet fully recovered from that failed raid and ambush. Other teams have gone out instead of theirs. Others have offered Kaylee the chance to accompany them out.

She's noticed, too, Luther has not been the same either. He's not been avoidant, exactly. He's got an excuse for every visit though, a purpose behind the check-ins - one of them being that she's one of the few he's sat still for to change his bandages rather than doing them himself. Maybe she's just better at it than the other medical unit personnel. And aside from that, as soon as he was cleared for it, Luther's back out in training.

The lesson's short, intense, focused on the up close and personal aspects this time. Shotguns are about a show of strength as much as they are about the business end of their barrels. And a little bit about blasting things to itty bitty pieces. Luther runs a rag over the gun to clean it, mostly focused on the act but when he looks over to make a late comment about her bruised shoulder, catches her looking. His own words wipe away with the shy smile from her, and he gets back to finishing his cleaning.

At least, until she speaks up. "Huh? Friends?" He blinks at her, a moment taken to confirm that he'd heard right. A short check confirms he didn't have his ear muffs on. He did hear her right. Even as she goes on, he looks at her puzzledly, watching her pack up to leave. He notices her readying for a retreat. The anticipation makes him tense slightly more than the statement about them being friends. And then her reason for being so comes out, and she's right to take a step back.

Luther frowns, grey eyes turning a stare colder than the air at first. Then it hits more fully and color fills in his face. "What're you trying to say?" he growls out audibly, the rising temper of offense predictable by now but the previous confusion of her considering the two of them as friends still lingering in the back taste of his tone and mind. Before she even answers the question, though, he also picks up his gun and stalks after her, long legs striding with speed until he catches up.

There is a wince at the reaction even though Kaylee knew it would be there, that she was purposely provoking it in hopes that he will do as asked. “Please, don’t make me say it out loud,” she pleas in exasperation; turning to look at him when she pauses her retreat.

There is an apology in those blue eyes as they turn towards him, “I get that this is the end of the world and there are more important things, but it’s time.” She hitches the shotgun strap higher on her shoulder, settling it a little more comfortably. “You know that I can’t remember ever seeing you in anything but these clothes.” She says it so conversational like. “Or coming out of the bath house.”

The telepath turns away, so he can’t see the pained look. She starts to move again, picking up the pace a bit. “I’m not the only one to notice, Luther.” Kaylee casts a look over her shoulder. “I’m a telepath.” There is a small tick of a smile. “You have the eye of a lot of ladies, but one thing keeps them away.” Almost without noticing, her gaze drops a bit to his chest and a memory of it… She is suddenly forced to look away when she feels the heat rising in her cheeks. “You could have your pick of the lot, you just got to take a bath.”

Luther might have caught up with the intention of confronting her, but when she pauses and turns to face him, he pulls up to a stop just beyond arm's length. Definitely within smelling distance. "It's not," he starts to argue about the whole end of the world scenario, but it comes out as a muttered protest. Served with the oh-so-casual reminder of his appearance and presumed lack of hygiene, he can't help but frown again with the sting against his character.

The compliment that comes after as he lurches back into the walk after her, this time at some distance, keeps him silent for a long moment. When she looks back at him, he's caught in a mixture of annoyance and skepticism. Like he doesn't believe her, but isn't sure why would there be any reason to doubt her honesty.

"Well," he rumbles tightly, puffing somewhat in his huff, "what if I don't want to pick?" His stare is still focused on her as he says it, but as something of a challenge to her statement. "And I do have other clothes," he claims, stubbornly. "They're for summer."

“You don’t want to—“ Again she stops and looks at him, but this time as if he grew two heads. “Are you kidding me?” Eyes narrow a bit and she steps closer, even if he does smell. “No one catches your eye?” Kaylee doesn’t sound like she believes that.

His challenging stare gets one in return from the smaller woman, chin tilted up some. “You know,” it sounds almost like a revelation. “You know and you do this to yourself on purpose.” He’ll be amazed to know that Kaylee isn’t reading his mind, when she states flatly, “You don’t want anyone to get close to you.” There is another step taken to close more of that distance, he’ll have to step back if he doesn’t want her in close.

Blue eyes study gray ones thoughtfully. Breath catches in her throat as full realization hits her. “You lost something and it hurt you bad and now you’re afraid to feel something again,” Kaylee finally concludes, actually looking a touch sad at that. At that realization, she lets her gaze fall and takes a step back and then another, before turning to walk again.

“Shit… “ Kaylee knows she’s gone too far. “I’m sorry,” the telepath says softly, shaking her head, “I had no right to say that or ask that of you.”

The step closer twists Luther’s gaze to focus on the woman’s face, particularly the blue of her eyes as they stare up at him. Had he a retort, it’s gone upon her questioning. He doesn’t admit it aloud, that it’s not because he doesn’t want to pick. But, that he has yet to come to grips with the notion that in all this time, he’s only grown accustomed to her even bothering to get close enough on this level.

But oh, how stubborn is he. Luther stands his ground physically so that when she steps even closer she’s practically stepping on his boots. An urge tugs at him, one more deep down and clawing up, creating a fire in him that seeks release. He doesn’t let it.

She’s right, though. And that realization comes with a new sting in her words, the sadness pulling down the fire and dropping a chill upon the growing tension. As she turns to walk away, Luther swallows roughly while the telepath’s back is turned to him, looking away to collect himself. When he does, he shifts his feet to follow again, if only because the path they take is the one that leads back to the main camp.

“Her name was Jane.” He says it loudly enough that she’d be able to hear him. But the next part comes out quieter, “Pissed off a whole lot of DoEA officers and killed more than she pissed off.” A beat clicks by. “She went out fighting.” The crunch of their boots in the snow and mud continues to fill in the silence that drops back down between them. Once they reach the perimeter and acknowledge the guard there, Luther stops and holds out his hand for the shotgun she’s carried back. The firearms eventually are to be returned to their small Resistance armory.

When he says her name, there is a slight hitch in her step. Not at recognition for the name, but more from just the fact that there is a name behind his pain and he had just shared it with her. Kayee doesn’t say anything, she knew that saying ‘Sorry’ wasn’t something he’d want to hear. So she lets the silence linger and stretch between them, giving him time to process and afraid that if she speaks too soon, he might close up again.

At least, until the hand comes into view.

Finally, she dares looks his direction, he won’t see pity in her eyes, just understanding. “Peter,” is what she offers, as Kaylee swings the shotgun off her shoulder and hands off to him with the shells. “Mine was Peter. I even loved him. Thought he loved me, too.” she can’t look at him when she says it. However, she does admit, “but he was never really mine… I was too stupid to see it until he up and left me, to track down a rumor that Gillian was possibly alive” She knew even here, Peter had his Gillian, even if she might be dead. “Even after he left, I loved him enough to help him get Gillian back.” There is no pride in those words, she sounded almost… guilty. “In fact, my last view of my world was his death… or the death of what was left of him.”

There is a moment of silence, then her shoulder give a bit of a shrug. As if to say, and there you have it.

In fact, she starts to leave him to his task. Something stops her, however, and she turns back to offering him a bit of a smile; the subject keeps any of it from reaching her eyes. “I shut myself off, too.” Kaylee eyes drop to focus on the ground, unable to look at anyone, hands tucking into her jacket’s pockets. “I— I did things to stop thinking about the hurt and to make sure it didn't happen again. I didn’t want to hurt like that again.”

When Kaylee finally looks up again, there is something in the way she looks at him, “It took coming here to learn that the world didn't end there and I’ll never stop feeling. Hell, it hurts in every timeline that I see him. But I've been learning to let myself feel again and found for me that there is much better than him out there.” There is a knowing to her as she offers up her experience.

“It is up to you to decide if you want to let yourself live or continue like this,” Kaylee says motioning to his whole self as she backs up, intent on leaving him now. Turning away from him, she calls back over shoulder with a bit more enthusiasm, “My advice? Open yourself up, let yourself feel. You won’t regret it, I haven't, yet.” She does a half turn to offer him an true smile, before going back to paying attention to where she is walking.

The pair of names, Peter and Gillian, and her explanation behind them comes as a surprise, which she sees in the pause from Luther in receiving the shotgun and extra ammo. His fingers curl around the shells, gaze dropped to them in thought at such revelations. The Peter here was still very much alive. The Gillian of the Wasteland, well. Eve was definitely sore on that point. But her statement that what she last saw of her love was his death… that strikes an uncomfortable nerve. Close. Very close. He’s rendered speechless by the confession, unable to gather the right structure of thoughts together to give a return volley.

When she stops and turns back to him, Luther lifts his gaze from the shotgun shells in his hand to look at her. Grey eyes meet blue, but the expression is tinted in wariness and inward conflict. Her advice given, it’s not until her back is turned again and she’s heading away that he finds himself exhaling roughly of a breath he didn’t know he’d been holding. It comes out half-growled, and the man gives a hard shake of his head to try and clear the muddiness that she’d stirred.

He’s gone for several minutes more before eventually returning to his tent, after spending the rest of the day doing the daily work - patrol checks, supply checks, etcetera. When he finds the package left in front of the tent, Luther’s first inclination is suspicion. He takes a moment to look around as if he might find some prankster, or thief, expecting a reaction out of him should there be some kind of booby trap there beneath his folded up coat. But the man picks up the entirety of the set, only then finding the bar of soap and sprig of lavender tucked in the fold of the coat lapel.

“Damn,” he grumbles aloud to no one at all.

February 2018


It feels like it’s one of the coldest days of winter, made more so by the recent snowfall sticking around and the cloud cover overhead making the weather feel somewhat dreary and grey. At worst, it’ll probably start snowing again. And worse than that, the possibility of having to go out in it is real. Or it was real, until there comes a note from Steele dropping by to inform the telepath that they’re holding off on a supply run until things are cleared up in camp. And to instead head to the range. Luther’s there already, he’d said.

When she reaches the range, the sound of gunfire can be picked up earlier than the sight of the man. Luther’s back in his infamous black coat and holding a pistol. Given the range is much closer than what they’d started with, he’s also closer to the targets as well. Freshly reconstructed, there are more people-shaped objects this time, and a set up of random objects like cans and bottles, paper sheets pinned on planks with circles painted on. A few of those sheets happen to be in bright, kid-friendly colors. And bear kid’s handprints and fingerprints on them. Someone had the children do some handiwork disguised as arts and crafts.

Unlike Luther, Kaylee is very susceptible to the biting cold. The thick knit red scarf is positioned over her nose, so that plumes of white puff from between woven yarn. Her black beanie is pulled low to cover her ears, plastering her golden curls close to her face. Not to mention that she is in layers, making her a bit bulkier up top. No doubt she’ll have long johns under the clothing even her jeans.

Trying not to interrupt the man’s concentration, Kaylee hangs back a bit watching him. Since, that day where they talked about the exes, it’s been hard to deny that something changed. Just a little something. The squelch of snow under her boots is loud under cloud filled sky. Snow had a way of doing that. If there were bad guys out there, the telepath is certain she’d be dead.

When there is a pause in his shooting, Kaylee speaks up, “You know… only crazy people go out when it’s this cold. The smart ones are staying warm in tents” not that her’s was warm, “or sit around a fire.” Luckily, she doesn’t sound like she is complaining, just amused. “Some of us do not have built in heaters, Luther.” Okay, maybe she is a little. “Why are we training today?” Just a little.

Three more shots fire as Luther puts them into three different dummies before she’s reached him, that added hanging back keeping him unaware of her arrival. The man lowers his gun down to his side, and for a moment wipes his brow as if he’s actually warm on this cold day. It’s the crunch of snow under her boots that turns his attention back over his shoulder, followed by an arch of his angled brow at her words. “It’s not built in, it’s home-grown,” he rumbles his reply, adding with a smirk and a wave of her over. The pistol in his hand held out for her to take, he answers after a pause to actually consider the question.

Why are they training? Today of all days. Hm.

“If you want this to go by faster, we can do this later,” he replies, a faint tint of amusement in his tone as well. An actual tease? The way he starts to retract the pistol from her grasp indicates his attempt to joke.

There is a slight hesitation when he motions her over, as she considers refusing. However, like any other time she might have protested, there is a plume of white from the scarf as she gives a heavy sigh of acceptance. She guesses they’re doing this. “Well, not like I was doing much,” she murmurs in admission, gloved hands are already reaching for the weapon. “Only good thing to do on a day like this is re-read that god awful book.” She means Mean Heat, of course. “This is an upgrade.”

But, then he is pulling the gun away with that tease. Eyes narrow slightly at the move. Suspicious. There is a lunge to carefully snag the weapon from his hand. “No. No,” Kaylee eyes him, using her unoccupied hand to pull the scarf away from her face. “I asked you to help me, so we’re doing this.” Even her tone sounds slightly suspicious. “So teach on, Drill Sergeant.” She gives him a mock salute, returning his smirk with one of her own.

Plus yeah… sooner they get done, the sooner she can crawl back under all those blankets and try to remember what warmth feels like.

Luther doesn’t truly mean to pull the gun away, but he doesn’t make it easy and she is forced to get in close to grab for it. With a flash of teeth tips, the man looks all too much like a dog with a bone and enjoying the keep away play. Which, he eventually surrenders once she’s gotten her gloved hand on the firearm successfully. “Oh I don’t know, I kind of enjoyed the book,” he muses after, scratching a spot on his jaw.

She might notice that he’s recently groomed it, at least within a couple of days. But at the moment, he’s not thinking about it as much as he is recalling a few choice passages of Mean Heat. “Awful or not, you have to admit it was entertaining.” He looks back at Kaylee, considering the way she’s bundled up in layers, and then clears his throat as he remembers what they’re here for when he sees the gun in her hands. “Let’s get started.”

There are different handguns offered for Kaylee to choose from, varied in size, power, capacity. Once Luther goes through the basics, he gestures for her to take her pick or stick with the one in her hand.

“I guess if you are into reading about fictional character’s very active love lives,” Kaylee growls out, possibly sounding a bit bitter. That is all she manages to say with him thinking of certain passages. She remembers those passages. Her face dips back into scarf to try and cover and flush of her cheeks. “And stop that,” she hisses at him a bit grumpily, scrunching her nose at him, “I don’t need to be reminded how unrealistic those scenes were.”

Not bothering him through the lesson, those passages continue to beat against her mental barrier, making it hard to get everything he is saying. It was like a mental yawn, he started it and now she’s stuck thinking about it, too. When he motions at her to pick something, she stares blankly at the array of handguns for awhile before blowing out a huff of frustration.

“I’ll stick to this.” She concedes giving her hand, with the Glock still in it, a wiggle.

Pistol in hand, Kaylee moves towards the line, trying to remember exactly what he told her about aiming those things. Something else was nagging at the corner of her mind, but she wasn’t sure what. Something she was missing. By her stance alone, she might not have heard some of his lesson. So it’s no surprise when her first shots go wide.

Luther arches a brow upon hearing her bitter growl, perhaps not having expected it, but letting it go uncommented upon for the time being. The chide for him to stop thinking of the passages, however, is met with a subtle shift of the way he twitches his brows up. Her scrunched nose is met with wry, amused wrinkle of his forehead as he regards her. Unrealistic. That's something he'll take note on. Silently.

As training continues, Luther isn't as distracted on the business of handling firearms. When she chooses the Glock, he nods his approval and steps back to watch. It becomes obvious immediately how distracted she seems, and the fact that her stance is off contributing the missed targets then gets a bit of a frustrated note. He knows she can do better. She can't be that bad at this after all the training they've done. "Tighten up on that circle. Square your shoulders. Aim down the sights, both eyes open."

He steps a pace closer coming up behind her, to look down the sights of her gun as well, albeit from a different angle.

There is a frustrated huff as he throws instructions at her back, though Kaylee’s emotions are not aimed at him, it’s at herself. She use to manipulate guys to do her bidding… why was she getting distracted by a few stray thoughts.

Lips press into a fine line as she lines up the target again, making sure to taking his instructions into consideration. Ready to take another few shots to empty out her clip, Kaylee’s concentration is interrupted when he steps up behind her. The nexts shots go wide again. The air plumes white again as the telepath lets out a heavy sigh. “Dammit,” he hears whispered under her breath.

Then it hits her with that sigh. “Wait.”

Luther finds himself the recipient of a look of surprise and then sudden scrutiny. Blue eyes take in the man from head to snow. He’s close enough that Kaylee, doesn’t have to reach far to move the flap of the coat to see the clothing under it. At that moment, whatever was bothering the telepath seems to dissipates; her mood brightening considerably. Her tone might suggest she had some doubt he would when she states, letting go of the coat, “You took my advice.”

Taking a step back, Kaylee gives him another appraising once over, then her head bobs in satisfaction. “You clean up nice. Real nice,” she gives him a knowing smile, thrown over her shoulder as she turns back to the targets. Unable to help teasing him a little, she adds, “Best watch out, those girls will be knocking on that tent flap, before you know it.”

When the shots go wide again, Luther narrows his eyes in a truly puzzled stare. What’s so difficult about it, he doesn’t understand. But he does recognize her distraction in the broadest sense. “You gotta focus, but relax,” he grumbles with a rough sigh of his own. A hand starts to lift in a scrub of his beard to hide the frustration with a scratching of what’s probably a physically itching spot of a fresh shave. Or at least, he does so until she suddenly turns around and pins him with that scrutiny. Grey eyes stare back, blinking once when she reaches for him. The man’s posture tightens to the attentions of her.

“Yeah, well. You brought my coat back,” he replies, eyes dropping to looks at his clothing as if he expects to spot something unusual about it, but doesn’t. Then he looks back up at the telepath when she turns back. The teasing note about the girls gets a low snort. He doesn’t believe it anyway. But on the next breath, he steps over to close the distance between them and reaches a hand for hers holding the gun.

Wordlessly, he works to position her properly on the line, adjusting the parts of her arms and shoulders that he’s noticed her stiffen up on. Subtle nudges to move, a touch to angle. “Like that,” he says after a moment to look down the sight again. “Breathe in, out, and pull the trigger.”

With her back to him, he can't see the pleased smile that tugs at Kaylee’s lips. Gloved fingers busy themselves with changing the clip, while giving a chuckle at the snort. Slapping the fresh clip into place, she starts to defend herself, “Disbelieve me all you want, but that curvy redhead—”

Whatever else she would have said is lost as he is suddenly a presence behind her and the lesson continues. It is a good thing he can’t catch the skip and subtle increase of her heart rate.

As he guides her stance and adjusts her position, Kaylee is painfully aware of the warmth of him pressed close and he might feel her lean a little into his weight. He was so nice and warm; she was freezing. It was hard not to turn and hug him for his body heat alone.

Of course, there is something deep down that wants to follow other instincts, as well. There is a lot of willpower exerted not to.

When he tells her to breathe, Kaylee suddenly realizes she’s been holding it. The breath she takes is a deep, shaky one. And on an equally trembling exhale, the woman squeezes the trigger. The gun goes off several times, as she tries to release the tension she is feeling. Instead, there is a sort of thrill of them like this, especially, as she clips the target with each round.

Not kill shots, but the grin Kaylee turns towards him, over her shoulder, says she still sees it as a win.

Only the briefest thoughts go to which curvy redhead Kaylee could be mentioning, but Luther has his focus on the telepath, his attention on the present. The invisible warmth of the air surrounding them comes subconsiously. The man feels that lean against him, pausing a moment and then lightly presses her back into place. So she can shoot straight, and he can think straight.

Once she finally manages to hit the targets, he gives her a short nod. Luther signals for a pause, stepping out from around her. “Alright. You managed to put a few in to the dummy, that’s a start. Won’t have to bring you to the broadside of a barn.” His smile is wry, the poking fun of her still developing skill a teasing jest. But there’s another ulterior motive to it as he steps away to several paces down range. After inspecting the paper target he turns, standing in front of the dummy.

“Now,” he says, readying his mind to focus upon her and the gun, “try again.” Luther takes in a breath as well, chest rising and falling as he grasps on to his ability.

The broadside comment gets a tongue stuck out at his back when he turns to move down range. It’s gone by time he looks back down at her again. The picture of innocence waiting for his verdict. Her expression falls flat when he tells here to shoot him. In fact, there is no immediate reaction to his order. Kaylee openly stares at the tall man at the other end of the range, Glock hung limply in her hand, like she can’t believe he told her to do that.

“Are you fuckin’ kiddin’ me right now?!” Kaylee shouts, all of a sudden, voice pitching up a notch in alarm. “I’m not going to shoot you! I just know it would be the one time I actually hit something!” She’d never forgive herself if she hurt him.

“You’re not going to hurt me, relax,” Luther insists confidently. He motions a ‘come on’ with his hand, waving fingers before dropping to a more defensive stance. Presenting perhaps a slightly smaller target, although not by much, he stares at her like she’s a forward and he’s the goalie in a hockey game. “Trust me.”

“I trust you.” Kaylee admits, starting to raise the weapon. Pointing it towards him, he can see her sight him down the weapon; but nothing happens. Not for a long time. There is a small shake to her head. “No.” The firm tone, says she won’t be convinced otherwise.

The Glocks is set down on the makeshift table as if she was being burned by it. The look she pins him with is distressed, even a little angry. Pointing a finger at him, Kaylee growls out, “You want to train? Find someone else to try and kill you. Lynette… or the millions of others. I want no part of it.”

“Idiot,” Kaylee hisses out under her breath. With that, the telepath turns away sharply, golden curls and red scarf tails swirling about her, and storms off. He can hear her shouting, “I’m gonna go get warm!”

The man at the other end of the range remains focused on her to the point that Luther starts to get a little stiff in the posture, and impatience starts to crawl into his thoughts. But when the shot doesn’t come and she set the gun down, he straightens again. What words he might have had cut off with that look of distress and anger, the point of her accusing sort of finger.

Luther remains where he stands, watching her stalk away without a retort. He scrubs a hand on the back of his neck, a little confused by the woman’s reluctance, by those words she’d noted at first. I trust you. Eventually when she’s further into the distance, he shakes his head to clear off the confusion, moves to gather the handguns up and heads after her on the path back to camp.

March 2018

"Thrown Projectile"

With Kaylee’s weapons training going at a decent pace — the fact that she is hitting targets now is a big thing — Luther had wanted to do something a little different. He wanted her to show him her skills with a knife. Maybe teach him something this time. The prospect tantalize her, turning the tables a little? She was no Ling, but Kaylee had been an apt pupil during those long and boring years in another timeline.

Much to the telepath’s dismay, when she woke up that morning, she found that it had snowed again overnight. The wet powder coming up to her calves when she took those first steps. “Great,” Kaylee drawls out sarcastically, lifting a foot out of the fresh snow. It made her thankful for the boots they found on one of their last trips, before the weather got nasty.

Looking towards the direction of Luther’s tent, Kaylee gives a heavy sigh. He’d still be expecting her so she crunches her way towards the tent. Movement of the tent flap, slows her movement to wait for the man to emerge. It isn’t the familiar form of the man that slips through the flap. A thick mop of red hair and a curvy figure pushes her way out the tent, her back to the telepath; but Kaylee would know Jennifer anywhere. Her interest in the grumpy man has been pretty obvious to the whole camp. More so now that the man has been showing some care for hygiene.

What Kaylee didn’t expect is the sharp jolt that drives through her at the sight of the woman and the sound of her voice, flirtatious and gitty. It sets the telepath’s jaw and narrows her eyes, there is a predatory nature to the way she stares at the redhead. Like an obstacle that needs removing.

“See you at the mess,” Jennifer can be overheard saying. The woman turns to be on her way, catches sight of Kaylee standing there with that scowl and startles like a prey animal having just spotted the lioness in the grass. “Oh! You scared me,” she breathes out, blinking blankly at the telepath for a moment. Jennifer then shifts her expression to a smile, but it’s not exactly reaching her eyes. The camp talk about Kaylee and Luther’s training is also rampant, and the rumor mill churns on. The redheaded woman gives the blonde a slight wiggle of her fingers in farewell and turns to head down the path away, forging the way to the mess. She sways her hips in such a way that it almost seems deliberate. Kaylee could assume a lot.

When Luther finally emerges from the tent, Jennifer’s already further off. He adjusts his coat over what she can see is the same set of clothing she had given him. He’s taken to wearing it more often, although there is the risk of falling into the old habit of not keeping up with the cleanliness of things. At least he’s kept up with shaving and bathing more often than laundering. If she really thought about it, he appears the same way when they’ve been training. And today is not a break in that routine, where he’s come out looking a little more groomed.

Spotting Kaylee standing there and looking at Jennifer’s back, Luther arches a brow at the telepath. “Mornin’,” he rumbles out in greeting, followed by the now standard phrase, “Did you eat yet?”

Still too far off to hear anything in the mind of Jennifer, the cattiness receives an even darker expression from the telepath. Even though Kaylee probably did this to herself with all her teasing, jealousy lights a fire within the woman; as well as that familiar feeling of assumed rejection. The finger wiggle gets a twitch, like something snapping, and when Jennifer’s back turns, Kaylee bends down to scoop up some snow. Intent on taking some the sway out of the other woman’s step, hands pack the snow into a nice round shape.

A smile, pulls to the side with a wicked curl as she she draws back her arm…

And Luther decides at that moment to step out of his tent, completely throwing her concentration out of whack. The arms falls to her side, still clutching at the snowball, as he turns toward her and for a moment that fire cools a little, until he asks the same question he always does… Normally, she’d happily answer that she had been waiting for him. This time however…

Luther becomes the target of her frustration and jealousy. Why? Because she knows Jennifer will be at the mess waiting to rub her face in whatever it was the telepath thought she saw. And because she finally realizes, she’s fallen for someone again.

Damn him for being just like the rest of them!

There is only a moment for him to think before with a growl, Kaylee pivots and instead chucks that snowball at the man.

Kudos to his reflexes. In reality, if Luther hadn’t ducked, the snowball hurled at him might have just struck him harmlessly in the shoulder. The movement actually causes the balled up projectile to splat messily against his turned face, breaking apart on bearded cheek. The first reaction of surprise melts off into a heated flash of annoyance as he brushes snow off from his coat and face. Grey eyes glare at the telepath, filled with accusation.

“The fuck was that for?” he snaps at her, the betrayal mild, but existant all the same.

There is a blink. Kaylee might look as surprised as he does, hands both slapped over her mouth as she stares at his snow covered features. It doesn’t last long as a thought occurs to her… there sudden burst of laughter, arms going up into the air as she crows out with a huge grin, “I HIT THE TARGET!” She gets a strange look shot at her from others passing by.

Somehow, Kaylee feels vindicated seeing him wipe that snow off. But, there is no way in hell she is going to admit to him her jealousy over him picking the redhead. Instead, her chin jerks up ever so slightly in defiance, clearly looking for a fight. “What’s wrong, Luther? Not that long ago you wanted me to use you as target practice.” Arms spread wide, her smile wicked. There is a challenge in that stance. Daring him to say she is wrong.

“Well, guess what, handsome.” Bending down, Kaylee starts scooping snow again, but not taking her eyes off him, “Your time has come!” Snowball in hand, she points at her eyes with two fingers and then points them at him, before throwing it at him.

Passerbys aren’t the only ones who give Kaylee a strange look. Luther evidently can’t stay mad, though, even seeing her defiant posturing. “I did, but I didn’t mean…” He trails off in a moment’s distraction at her words, still watching her as she bends down and it doesn’t truly occur to him what she’s doing until she points her gloved fingers at him. Split seconds later, the snowball hurtling through the air at him gets the man to twist away. The packed snow splatters against his coat.

Luther looks down at the impact site, then up again at the telepath. Eyes narrow. Oh. It’s on now.

Suddenly, he’s stooping down to grab whatever chunk of snow will come away in his scooping hands, barely packed before it’s lobbed in Kaylee’s direction. He’s following straight after it, closing the distance in a chase effort.

At the narrowing of his eyes, the impish smile grows a little more on Kaylee’s lips. “Bring it on,” she growls out, moving to get more. However, halfway through her bend, she sees how much snow he is getting ready to fling at her, she suddenly starts to rethinking this. All she has time for is to turns her head and bring up her hands, before she’s hit with the large spray of snow, a little half laughed shriek escapes her.

Snow clings to blonde curls, as she swings back around. There is yelp of surprise to see him coming after her, though despite the shot of fear, there is a big grin. Kaylee doesn’t hesitate for long, turning on heels and trying to retrace her steps. Downside of the deep snow is, her legs are shorter than his. Much like radar, the mental hum of the man is quickly closing distance, as she scoops up snow on the go.

This new snowball in hand, Kaylee stops just long enough to turn and try to chuck it at him; a desperate attempt to slow him down and give her a chance. All the while, completely oblivious to the scene they were creating in the center of camp.

If there are any worries about appearances, Luther doesn’t seem to be heeding them at the moment. He barks a short laugh of triumph as the pile of snow spills over the woman, and then he’s after her. Like a charging bear, he lumbers at a surprisingly fast pace over the snow towards the telepath. The briefest of pauses taken as the second snowball headlong, shaking the icy bits off himself with a couple of quick jerks and a blow out of breath snorting plumes into the air.

All in all, the snow isn’t enough to slow him by much. Luther’s determination focuses him with a singular purpose. When he’s within arm’s reach, he makes a grab for her in a bear hug like motion around her waist to trap her and pull her in. He likely doesn’t even realize just how much of a scene they’re causing. He definitely doesn’t notice that he’s enjoying the playfulness of it, enough that it might ruin what reputation of being the camp curmudgeon he might hold.

Seeing that her attempt to stall him fails miserably, Kaylee makes a desperate attempt to turn and flee. However with a yelp, Kaylee is deftly caught and pulled in close. Her back pulled against the front of him and his strong arms tightly around her… it is a little jarring. Bringing a certain awareness with that embrace. Still, Kaylee can't help but laugh and make a weak attempt at pulling away. In the end, though, she is happy to let him have his prize, as she leans back against him and his radiating warmth.

Head shifting to rest back against his shoulder, it allows her to angle a look up at him with a Cheshire type smile. “I got you three times,” she says with a big satisfied grin, eyes glittering with mischief. “Three!” Of course, he still managed to win the game.

The sheer joy of the moment starts to fade, when Kaylee remembers the reason they even got started down that path. The smile loses some of its brightness, “Sorry to keep you away from Jennifer, I just couldn't resist the target practice.” The smile fades a little more and she looks down at the snow at her feet, as she adds, “I saw her coming out of your tent; finally took my advice, huh?” The telepath knew she needed to hear it from him.

The exercise of it all adds a bit more heat to Luther’s person as he clutches arms around her to trap her in. His breath exhales closely, she feels his chest rising and falling. “Yeah well, I got you now,” he counters, unaware in the excitement of the moment what the innocent words could imply to unaware ears. He only means it to be part of the game. Maybe later he might realize the deeper implications.

Her turned smile up at him gets an arched brow as she apologizes, a blink as she continues, reminds him of Jennifer leaving his tent. The man blinks, his hold on the telepath loosening slightly. “What? Jennifer…” He has to think about it, then recalls and leans back slightly from her. “She came by to give me the rundown of what’s left in rations,” he starts to say as the confusion clears up. “You think that she and I…”

The next breath out of him comes as a snorted laugh. Luther gains a crooked smile, the tip of a tooth showing. Suddenly it makes sense. “The ‘curvy redhead’.” The man’s smile fades there as he regains a more neutral expression, staring down at her face and realizing in an instant all the comments and notes made to him culminating into what she’d meant the whole time. His grip on her loosens further, so that he can turn her about to face him.

And then without much warning, he pulls her up by the waist to hoist her up over onto one shoulder and carry her back through the snow towards the way they’d came.

Expression a mix of confusion and curiosity, Kaylee doesn't really resist or try to flee when she is turned to face him. Her cheek are flushed with the cold and the lingering exertion of their moment of play. “Yes,” she admits that Jennifer was the woman he mentioned to her.

When he hands lock on to her waist, Kaylee seems surprised. “Luther…” her voice filled with an abundance caution. When he starts to lift her, the telepath’s voice lifts a little higher. “Luther what are you -?” And then she is flung over his shoulder.

Oh. My. God. How embarrassing…

Luther!?!” she growls out, face red, though a laugh slips out of her. She smacks his back, legs kicking, but cautious not to kick him in the face. “Wh-where are we going!?!”

Granted, the position is not one very dignified to be in. Luther has his arm strapping down the back of thighs as he carries her the short distance back towards the tent. She can spot a couple of curious, amused expressions from other camp members looking their way. Nobody moves from their positions or tasks to help, though. The man trudges through the snow a bit longer, silent and progress steady, until they’re back around his tent.

He can’t exactly carry her through the tight opening, so Luther eventually releases her with a short bend and set of the telepath back on her own two boots and takes a step back. His own face, flush with the color and effort, turns to her and for a long, quiet moment, just stares. Grey eyes hood, the man watching as if to make a sort of final decision. Then after a longer, almost awkward amount of silence, he rumbles out, “I don’t care about Jennifer. The thing you said before, about picking. Thing is, Kaylee, I don’t want to…” He strays off the end of the sentence, hands at his sides twitching with the urge to ball and release.

With a growl down in his throat, frustrated with the lack of words that come to him, Luther finally gives his head a shake and simply steps back in, reaching out for her again. This time, with the motion to pull her in close and kiss her fully.

Back on her own two feet, he will see the irritation in Kaylee’s blue eyes and cheeks flushed with embarrassment. While part of her wants to shyly look away at the scrutiny, she is ruffled enough to feel defiant and refuses to drop her gaze. Meeting his steadily through those awkward moments.

There was already a tight ball of tension growing at the center of her being; but, when he finally breaks the silence, he can hear her breath hitch in surprise. She really thought she knew… or did her own self doubt and fears blind her?

Either way, Kaylee’s heart is pounding by time he move to action when the words fail him. For a moment longer after lips meet, it might seem like she isn't going to return the kiss. Something changes from one moment to the next, slender fingers curl around the lapel of his coat and pull as if to bring them even closer, as she kisses him in return with a heat that he might not have expected.

Somewhere beyond them there is a certain mischievous duo that is cheering and giving each other a high five.

Not expecting that heated return, Luther nearly breaks it off out of sheer surprise. Her hands curled on his coat keep him there, and she can feel his own hands tighten around her waist, one hand lifting to cup behind her neck. He’s the first to break off to breathe, to stare with grey eyes into blues. His face remains flushed, though this moment not with a physical effort so much as the heat of a barely held back feelings.

Then the understanding clicks over past the initial fire and with renewed desire he presses up against her. “I pick you,” he utters, the whisper rumbling through a thick near-growl. And then he pushes forth, intent on finishing the task of bringing her back to his tent.

There is something in those three whispered words that seems to trigger something deep within her. Even though in her own mind she is scarred and broken, he picked her. There is a prickling sensation behind her eyes and tears threaten to spill over, even though there is a smile on her lips. Kaylee never realized how much hearing those simple words would affect her.

Luther pressing in close like that and the thoughts in his head, it is enough to send a shiver of anticipation through her. Next thing they know, she is pulling him into another desire driven kiss even as she is forced to take that first step backwards into the tent. When the canvas starts to brush past her, taking them into what little privacy it offers, it’s hard to tell if he is pushing her or Kaylee is pulling him.

There was no way even Tyler was going to ruin this moment of discovery for them.

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