2008-07-13: Before The Flood Of Tears


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Summary: Kory finds herself facing the most painful part of being a powered hero with a love interest.

Date It Happened: July 13, 2008, shortly after the events of Battle Damage

Before the Flood of Tears

The Deveaux Building - The Batcave

The advantages of having money are many. Kory, however, doesn't tend to make liberal use of them. Not usually, anyway; but these days, things keep happening that she has to spend like she's more than a comic girl with a good investment portfolio.

The glazier's been called. The door and frame are at least somewhat closed, but the replacement has been ordered. The big picture window that looks out over the city is occluded by a big sheet of heavy duty plastic.

Kory had a steam vaccum brought in, and is now going over the dried milk and blood with a blank expression and a determined, repeatitive motion.

Randall, meanwhile, has had a hell of a day. Not the same hell that the others went through, but one of simply not knowing. Was it not bad enough that anyone felt the need to warn him… or was it so bad that no one was able to? Bailing out on the day job a couple hours early - it was about time for a change of venue, anyhow - he drums his fingers against the wall of the elevator car all the way up, practically sprinting to the door. Which has obviously suffered major damage. Peeking inside, he sighs with relief as he picks out a familiar face, slowly easing the door open again.

The door, damaged; creaks. Kory jumps, and makes a tiny little sound too small to be a scream, but full of the same taut tension and fear. She realizes who it is and the vacuum attachment falls from her limp fingers. "Oh, hi," she says, trying for a joke, though her voice is hoarse and ragged, her eyes red from fatigue and unshed tears. "For once I'm glad work kept you away from me. Unexpected drop-ins."

Randall glances back at the frame, easing it shut behind him as best he can, then walks over and reaches his hands out toward Kory's with only the most cursory of additional glances at the furniture. "I figured as much. What happened? How badly was anyone hurt?" No one friendly killed, he hopes, or she'd be in even worse shape than she is.

Kory looks at Randall for a long moment. "Sophie's worst hurt," she answers after the silence has drawn out long enough to be uncomfortable. Is this Randall? Is it really Randall? She has no way of knowing. So she has to trust it is, and that's of late become a lot more difficult. "He electrocuted her. Did something to me. Threw Lee clean through the window." Her hand flips up to indicate it. "Cam's awake now. Sophie's sleeping it off. And Gabriel saved me. By —" and her eyes drop to the bloodstains nearest her, rather than the track of it leading to her window. The body, at least, is gone. "Shooting him. And then Professor Garibaldi made things worse."

Well, he's acting like Randall, anyway: moving in for a hug, but hesitating as he starts to understand how badly shaken she is. And blinks, unaware who this 'he' was, but nothing's been said of his recovery so presumably there wasn't one. Instead, he sticks with the man he does know something about. "That's right, he was trying to wild-card their project, wasn't he? What did he do?"

Oh, god, please let it be Randall. One more shock tonight is probably more than Kory could take. But he wraps his arms around her, and he feels like Randall. Smells like Randall. "If…if Lee hadn't had his own gift…" It's very long way down to the ground from Kory's floor. And for that matter, a bad injury even if he'd hit a balcony and hung on.

"He came to kill us. For standing against him. He showed up because I called for help. I called for Peter, and he could change shape and he locked us in and then he dropped the disguise and took us all down like we were a bunch of three year olds. If it hadn't been for Gabriel he'd have done it. Gabriel barely made it. Shot him in the head. And Professor Garibaldi came for his daughter and she was here looking for him becaue Pinehearst burned down day before yesterday!" All of this rushes out of her in one long exhalation, leaving her hitching up dry sobs to catch her breath as she buries her face in Randall's chest. "And then Professor Garibaldi…" she manages, a moment or two later, "…tried to shoot Gabriel, and then Gabriel nearly gave up but he didn't and he had to go because the Feds were coming."

Randall looks confused at first, but stays quiet and listens until he works out a better idea of which man in the story was which. The rest, though— "How did the Feds get in on this? And what happened to the professor and his daughter, did they just leave or what?" Slowly, he backs up against a wall so that he can lean against it as Kory leans against him, testing it slowly in case it took a critical hit as well.

"I don't know." Kory shrugs. "Jamie texted me to warn me just as people showed up at the apartment." She wipes at her eyes, but there aren't any actual tears on her face. Not yet. "The Professor grabbed her by her arm and took her down the fire escape. Lee called from the ground a few minutes later." She pauses to catch her breath again, and realizes she probably caused Randall some pronoun trouble.

"He was the head of Pinehearst himself. The Big Bad. Peter's father." And Peter himself? Peter never showed. She's trying not to think of what that could mean.

Randall nods, processing as best he can. Okay, just 'worse' as in 'launched a second attack', not 'and it was even bigger than the first one'. But the fact that it happened at all - either of them - is plenty bad enough. "Well, I just hope most of the people still there decide to drop the project, then. The professor won't, I guess, but if he has trouble convincing anyone else to support him…?"

"The project is dropped," Kory says, stepping away from Randall to pace across and flop into one of her chairs. "The facility burned to the ground. And if the Feds found any of Arthur Petrelli's people? I guess they're locked up." She turns a bleak expression on Randall, Kory does, and shrugs. "Randall, the Professor still has Elisabetha. Elisabetha is entropathic or whatever. Does it matter whether he has a project when he has her?" She curls her fingers around the ends of the chair arms, and looks out the window at the distant lights of the city, blurred through the plastic. "I have to stop him. Or convince him to stop. Before Sylar comes for him."

Randall lets go, wandering over to the opposite chair and lowering himself into it. Again cautiously, because who knows what collateral damage still needs patching up. "I guess you're right…" He sort of understood what the formula did; he doesn't know as much about Elisabetha's ability. "So you figure, if Sylar gets to him, then… what? Same thing, but with even less self-control?"

"If Sylar gets to him, he'll kill him." And Gabriel will be lost. "And the grief might cause Elisabetha to go ballistic. Which is, I figure, pretty bad. Crossing the streams bad." Kory shrugs. "I owe it to Gabriel for all his hard work to not let that happen." She piches the bridge of her nose as if a migraine were starting behind her eyes. "And Elisabetha deserves a chance to live. Too many people have already died."

Dangerous territory, this. Randall only knows that Sylar's a general threat, presumably intending to steal whatever powers the Pinehearst formula created. He still hasn't worked out his specific relationship to Gabriel - quiet, unassuming building super Gabriel - as evidenced by the fact he isn't completely losing it right now.

"I don't know what I can do to help - I don't know what I would've done, if I'd been here…" Seeing abilities (or thinking you can) is not the most directly useful combat skill in the world. "But if there's anything, just let me know. I mean, he might go after Elisabetha instead, which I'm guessing would be at least as bad."

"You…you'd have…he'd…even Ian couldn't do anything, and Ian throws lightning!" Kory whispers. "He'd …you'd have gone out the window with Lee, and you'd have been street pizza and you should go back to California because I'm turning into a danger magnet!" Kory drops her face into her hands. "I couldn't do anything except watch and black out and be a liability…and…" She drags her hands through her hair, trying to collect herself.

Randall stares at Kory. Wait, what? What? No, she can't seriously mean that, she's just stressed out because of everything, and who can blame her? "…and I might be a little safer there. A little. But how much?" Again he reaches his hands out, not toward hers directly, just to the edge of her armrest. "If trouble can find me here, it can find me there, too. And I'd be even less likely to see anything coming— that's why I left in the first place, because I was half-blind."

"I love you, Randall," Kory says, dismally. "I do. But this is gonna follow me. And I can't put you in the line of fire if Sylar surfaces again. Professor Garibaldi's fault. But now I see how close he always is. I'd never forgive myself if he took —" Randall's gift. Via the top of his head. There's a blankness in Kory's eyes that indicates that mental image has been vulturing in her backbrain most of the day. "It's because I love you. I want you to be safe. To live." Because even a Sith lightning thrower wasn't able to be safe. She still hasn't shed a tear. She looks like she wants to, but they haven't come yet. "You were right to want to keep your own place. I just keep thinking what if you'd been here."

Randall stops. And stares again. This isn't happening. Can't be. It did happen a few years ago, with another girl back in Davis - he can't even remember most of what she said that night, only that they were both a mess - but he'll be damned if he's letting it happen again.

"I… I'll stay away for a little while, if that's what you want, but… that can't be a permanent answer. There's got to be some other way to deal with it." And if it takes them a while to search for one… well, they're both young, still. And neither of them will just give up and wander away, right? It's a good thing he doesn't know about the other night with her and Peter, too - that might almost drive him away even faster.

"You were right," Kory says, but she does respond to his insistence it's not a permanent answer. "I don't want you to go away," she says, hands finally unclenching from the chair arms to cover his. "I should've run when stuff started getting crazy and weird, and now it's too late." Peter isn't even in the equation to her mind, just now. The current Peter may have stepped out into the sunlight like Bambi only to be crushed underfoot by his father, Godzilla, as far as she knows. He could well be dead. "I just…what else can I do?" She shrugs, helplessly, and drags her hands through her hair again in frustration. Too many responsibilities heaped too quickly on her shoulders — and she didn't take it seriously enough soon enough. "You…you think we can find a way to deal with this?" Doubt in her voice; hope in her eyes.

Slowly, Randall nods. "I don't know what, yet, but one thing… the chart back at my apartment, it's got plenty of holes. Some of them, I've been able to fill in." A periodic table of abilities? "We haven't seen every variation in the world yet— and that's just abilities, never mind the people behind them. So yeah, I think we can."

Rising to his feet, he bends down to press his lips against hers: slowly, not with a spark of passion this time, but with the understanding that it may be their last chance for a while. That sort of occasion deserves respect.

Kory is caught by surprise with the kiss. She returns it, but with the same somber gentleness Randall offers — a pause, then. Not a break. Her fingers stroke gently across his cheek, and the tears begin to slip from beneath her closed eyelids. Touched by his optimism and his acceptance, the emotional dam finally gives way.

Randall walks around to the other side of the chair, leaning down and slipping his arms around Kory's waist from behind. He stays with her for as long as it takes for the tears to run their course. And then - before he can change his mind - he goes. There's a passing glance as he reaches the hallway again, still gingerly handling the door.

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