2010-07-03: Kindred Spirits



Date: July 3, 2010


Kain and Morgan meet for coffee but get stuck in an elevator where they get a bit more honest with one another.

"Kindred Spirits"

Mt. Sinai Hospital

The first step to making a life for oneself is believing it's possible. Kain doesn't, but he's still going to try. It's not going to be very much of a date; at the moment, he can only afford the barest minimum, and he's always going to be looking over his shoulder. Maybe if he tries hard enough, he can actually have a friend.

But it won't last.

After getting off work, he stopped by the giftshop to get a rose for Morgan. Even if he's only wearing jeans and an old white t-shirt, he can at least have something classy to offer her. He does notice that the rose has a 'get well soon' pick huddled within the plastic wrapper and the leaves. Frowning, he pulls that out and shoves it down the crack of the waiting room chair he's sitting in. Just what he needs her to find.

Checking his watch again, he watches as the hands move from 6:59 to 7:00. She'll be here soon, probably. He almost chickened out himself, but he could disappoint her. It was just the way she said what she did that made him want to be here. Man, she almost seemed as glad as him that they were going out for coffee. Biting his lip, he takes a deep breath and plasters a smile on his face. Hopefully he can keep it there until they part ways again.

For her part, Morgan didn't actually get to see the guy about the job — turns out he was in court, so she left her name and number and headed home for a nap and a few Advils for the hangover headache. It also means she was able to touch up her makeup and look a little less like death-warmed-over. She didn't want to overdo things by changing clothes, though, since she said she was running the errand and that it would take just enough time to meet him after. So she's still in the black capris and green t-shirt she was wearing at the hospital. Casual and summer-chic, right?

She turns the corner and half expects him not to be there — he may just be a janitor, but he is a rather attractive one; girls likely are beating down his door. When she sees Kain, she smiles, and moves toward him, biting her lower lip when she sees the rose.

"Hi," she offers, stopping a few feet short of this chair. "Waiting for someone?" It sounded clever in her head, anyway.
He's concentrating on the rose when Morgan shows up, and looks at her suddenly when she speaks. He certainly seems surprised. "Um. Yeah, I just thought that maybe…" He holds it out. At least his awkwardness is real. He doesn't have to act that part out.

Getting to his feet, he nods at the elevator doors. "The cafeteria's in the basement. I know it's not much, but they have good coffee, and I'm kinda starving, so… I thought maybe I could buy us some dinner, too? Like a — I mean, I like salad, but you can get what you want. If you want anything. I'm not saying you have, to, but… If you want to."

For a moment, the frown reappears. He's just trying too hard now. "Sorry, it's been a long day."

He might just be the only person she's met that sounds as lost and awkward as she does. Morgan reaches for the rose, bringing it to her nose to smell it, letting the soft petals cover her mouth for a moment as she inhales.

"That's fine. I … don't really cook or anything, and there's not much at home anyway, and it's better than eating alone, right?" she says, smiling as she moves toward the elevator. "And yeah. It has been a long day. Even if I slept 'til noon." Her eyes flit to the other side of the hall, the direction that Erin's room lies, and then back to his face, a tentative smile on her own. "So, how long have you had this job you're terrible at?" she says, with a little surge of feigned confidence, inspired by Erin's acting career. If she acts like she's not a sad pathetic soul, maybe he'll buy it.

Kain doesn't think Morgan is sad and pathetic! He's just worried about how she's going to take it when he up and vanishes on her. Maybe he shouldn't be taking her out for coffee at all, but… Human contact. He needs it. And he needs to have some semblance of a life back!

The smile returns. It's not as powerfully radiant as it was before, but at least it's there. "What, working here? Just a couple days, actually," Kain responds. "I know, I know, it's kinda weird that this was the first time I had to clean up puke, but there was always someone else around I could get t'do it, so…" He hits the button on the elevator. "Um. I don't exactly… belong here? I guess? But a job's a job, right? So I'm cleaning floors for now."

You can't just do this to someone, Teddy, he says to himself as he glances over at Morgan again. The smile momentarily breaks. "So, what kind of work is it that you're, you know, trying to get a job doing?"

The words that he doesn't belong here makes her brows knit together. She doesn't, literally. Or at least her mind doesn't. She smiles and glances down, fingers idly stroking the rose's soft petals.

"Yeah, a job's a job. I just kinda got into town myself, um, about a month ago. I don't really have any references or anything like that, so I'm probably in the same sort of boat. I met some lawyer yesterday who said I could probably work for him, or that he'd help me find something. I'm not sure I'll be great at clerical work, but it's better than nothing." And better than mopping up puke, but she lets that go unsaid.

"Better than mopping up puke," Kain says for her. It's almost as if he's reading her mind, but he's not. Anything is better than that, and… that's what he does, so it's probably on both their minds. When the elevator arrives, he steps onto it and holds it open so it doesn't close on Morgan.

It's almost nice. He can almost smile for real. No one here knows what he did, and without a power, he doesn't have to worry about hurting them, either. The smile doesn't come any easier, though, as he hits the 'LL' button to take them down to the lower level of the hospital.

She points a finger at him. "You said it, not me." The words come with a grin, something rare for her these days. The way her face feels when it smiles is unfamiliar to her — sure, she smiled in the past, but that was Erin's face. Unfortunately, her shoe catches on the metal seal that separates elevator from hallway and she stumbles a little. So much for smooth and confidence.

She grabs his arm to keep from tripping, and laughs, looking up with reddened cheeks. "I'm such a klutz. I'm sorry. I think these shoes don't fit right." Close to the truth — it's the feet that feel too big, not the shoes.

Kain reaches out to catch Morgan as the door closes, looking at her with a mixture of confusion and amusement. Who trips into an elevator? "Okay there?" he asks, making sure she's got her balance again before letting go. "Don't worry about it, everyone— "

What everyone does remains a mystery for now, because as the elevator travels downward, there's a crunch of metal against metal as one side of the elevator dips just a little too far to one side. It's Kain's turn to stumble, which he does, into the siderail. Ow.

They're next treated to the sound of a breaking cable.

Thankfully, the elevator's brakes keep it from flying the rest of the way down the shaft, but the lights flicker and go out, plunging them both into complete darkness. Reaching for the button on his watch, Kain pushes it, which provides a green glow. "God— Are you okay?"

"I'm fi—" the lurch cuts off her words and her eyes widen, as she too stumbles though she bumps into him rather than the rail. Luckily she doesn't weigh much, despite her height. When the elevator slides another couple of feet before the brakes hit, she grabs the rail, her breath hitching into her nervous wheeze.

"Are you kidding me? Not again," she breathes out. This will only be the thirteenth time she's been stuck in an elevator — now, is Kain a mass murderer, a vampire, a Russian spy, or her long lost uncle — or possibly all of the above? If she were back in her world, it would be one or all of those. "Does this happen a lot?" she asks, in a smaller voice, not sure how common an occurrence it is in the "real world."

Kain's hand goes to his heart. He thought he was about to die just then. Not that he wouldn't deserve it after all he's done. Morgan would certainly be right about the 'murderer' thing, even if he hasn't killed people en masse. His parents must count for a lot of people, though.

Consequently, he also used to be a vampire. A real one, who stole life. Thankfully, he ability is gone and he isn't anymore.

"Again? You mean you've been stuck in an elevator before? I'm thirty-five, and this is the first time I've almost fallen to my death in an elevator, so… no, I'm pretty sure it doesn't happen often." The good-natured demeanor seems to have dropped. When the light from his watch goes off, he lets the smile fade, too. "You must just be lucky."

"Lucky," she echoes. "Yeah, it's happened before, but I guess I lived somewhere with really bad elevators. It doesn't seem to happen that much to other people, I guess." She moves to the control panel and finds the phone, picking it up and holding it to her ear. "Hello? … yes… thank you." She sets it down again and looks at him. "They're sending people, but since it's not just, you know, stuck, but broken, it will take a while, I guess."

She slides down to a sitting position, then glances back up at him. "Thirty-five? You don't look any older than I am," she says — not that she actually knows how old her body is, but her fake ID says 27.

Whoops. Little slip-up there, Teddy. "Yeah, I get that a lot," he says quietly, wondering how long they're going to be in here. At least with food, they'd have an excuse for not talking so much, but in here, in the dark, with nothing to do but talk, what is he going to say? "Guess I'm just one of those people who ages well."

Awkward silence time! He pushes the light on his watch again, fiddling with it a bit so it stays on, before he unstraps it and puts it on the floor between them. It's kind of like a fire, only very pale and green. At least they can see a little bit. And he doesn't have to smile, either. He can pass it off as worry. "So you've only been here about a month, huh? What'd you do before that?"

Morgan stares at the watch, the pale green light illuminating her face as she tries to think of a good answer. Erin had warned her she needed a backstory, but she never did come up with a plausible one. The problem with coming from an impossible history meant that nothing sounded plausible — everything sounded too simple or mundane or unrealistic to her, in a weird irony. "I was born here," because that's what her paperwork says, "I just recently came back."

That's probably not quite enough, is it? "I travelled a lot. Most recently I was in California," she adds. The lie sounds fake even to her. How did she think she was going to manage this? How can she possibly have a real life, when she can't tell anyone anything about herself? She sighs, lifting her eyes to his.

That's a long pause for an answer. Maybe Kain's just suspicious because Morgan's story sounds a lot like his - not quite detailed enough to be a lie, and not quite detailed enough to be the truth, either. Who isn't hiding something, though? He can get that, though. He understands. To that end, he actually does manage a smile of sorts. It's brief, almost not there, but it's a lot more sincere than it was before.

"What, are you just copyin' me now?" he asks, sitting across from her now, pulling one knee up and wrapping his arm around it. He shrugs. "You don't have to say if you don't want to. I'm not gonna throw stones, I mean, if I— " Abruptly, he cuts himself off.

"So were you really in California, or are you hiding from something?"

She chuckles a little at his words and shakes her head. No, she's not copying him. She stares down at her feet, trying to think of a way to answer that. Her own feet cross, and she wraps both arms around her shins.

"I'm a horrible liar," she finally says, and looks back up at him. "No. I wasn't in California. I just… I don't know what else to tell people when they ask. Every story I've come up with sounds fake in my head, and the truth sounds even faker. I'm not … I'm not in trouble or anything. I'm not hiding from anyone, or anything like that. There's just things that won't make sense to anyone else if they heard them, and there's holes in my life that mean I don't have a resume or references or anything that would help me get a job and have a life."

Morgan exhales, surprised all of that came out, and shakes her head. "And I don't know why I'm telling you all of this except that — where I come from — it's sort of what you do in a stuck elevator, I guess."

Kain just laughs to himself. "Nah, you're not a bad liar, I'm just in the same boat." Except he is hiding from someone. "I got someone mad at me when I was a lot younger, so… I keep moving. You know… Stay one step ahead of the Reaper. I got my own personal reaper. S'kinda cool, if you think about it." He's not sure why he's sharing all of this, either. Maybe it's Morgan's influence.

"So you're not a bad liar, it's just that I can…" He rolls his eyes and shrugs. "…Spot. That particular lie."

He rubs the back of his neck. There's a sound from above them, possibly someone trying to get to them, or maybe another cable is breaking. "We're probably going to be here awhile. I could help you work out a story, if you want. Somethin' that doesn't sound so rehearsed. That way, the next time you're stuck in an elevator with a hospital janitor, you know what to say."

That explains the over-quqalified janitor position, at least. Morgan looks up with empathy in her eyes. She's tired of lying after just a month— how long as he been doing it for? The sounds make her lift her eyes to the ceiling, looking a little nervous. After all, she's never been stuck in an elevator in real life. It's possible that she's actually in real danger, but it's hard to be too worried when she faced down a gun the other day.

"That's nice of you. I'm afraid of getting caught in a lie, but I suppose that's kind of silly when I go blurting out that I'm lying anyway, huh? So if you were me, what would you tell people to explain the lack of any marketable job skills or job histories, references, et cetera? Everything that I could come up with — well, they make me sound either sketchy and dubious or … well, someone no one would want to know, at any rate."

The funny part is, Morgan has no reason to feel nervous around Kain. He's probably the gentlest person in his family. It's just that he was saddled with an ability that also made him the most dangerous. Sure, she might have every reason to feel nervous that the elevator itself will kill them both, but at least she's in good company.

"Yeah, you might wanna work on that. The best lie's one that has some truth to it. I really was in Africa before I came here. So if someone asks me questions about where I was, I can actually answer them without tryin' to fight for answers. So… Pick a place you're familiar with, at least.

"Then you gotta believe what you're saying. So pick a story and stick with it. The rest'll come. Takes time to build something credible. Heh. When I applied for this job, I was just honest. Told 'em I'd never been a janitor before, but I could figure it out. Guess they liked me."

Somewhere she's been before — she hasn't — only places that don't exist. Llanview, Port Charles, Corinth, Pine Valley — fictional towns in fictional soap operas. The writers were clever, and if anyone needed to leave town, they left town for yet another fictional place. She nods slowly, though it's clear Morgan isn't really coming up with anything of value as she stares at the watch on the floor again.

"Right. Someone suggested Alaska, but I don't know anything about it, and someone would catch me in a lie about a polar bear or something, and then where would I be," she quips to try to buy some time.

Her eyes alight upon his face once more. "What was Africa like?" Apparently she's not in the mood to fabricate a back story.

"Alaska?" He shakes his head. "Nah, if you're gonna go with somewhere you really HAVE never been, pick somewhere generic, so if you make somethin' up about it, it's probably true. Like… Albany. It's a lot like New York City. So… There you are."

When she seems uninclined to continue the story, Kain shrugs. Well, at least he's managed to pass along a little of his knowledge. "Africa is… dry. Dangerous. There's lots of big animals, but it's so beautiful." He wishes he would have taken more pictures. For a moment, he's quiet, remembering. "Would have stayed if I could, but I gotta keep moving. I'm not… in trouble. I guess it's kinda like you. There's just someone out there."

Whatever happened? Kain always thought Jo had his back. He was sure he could at least count on her.

The frown returns in earnest. He's never actually told another living soul what he did.

"They're… trying to kill you?" Morgan says, finally leaving her own angst behind and focusing on his. It's maybe easier that way, for her, if not him. "I mean… your own personal reaper? That's a strange thing to say… you can't call the police, or go into … I don't know, like … what's that thing, eyewitness protection or something?" Without realizing it, her hand has gone to his forearm, as she peers up into his face.

She realizes it a moment later and drops it, picking up the rose that was sitting on the floor beside her. "This is a strange day," she murmurs, before letting him answer the questions.
Jo's been trying to kill him for a long time now. "Yeah, it's… Complicated?" He guesses that's about the right word for it. And since Kain hasn't known Morgan for more than a few hours, he can't give away all his secrets. He does glance down at the hand when it rests on his arm, though. That's a funny thing for her to do, but he doesn't pull away. The contact is welcome. "Trust me, if there were an easier way to live my life, I'd do it. Without hesitation."

When she pulls her hand away, Kain's surprised that he feels relief. Then again, it should shock him as much as it does. In the past, contact has been disastrous, and old habits - namely, tensing like this when he's touched - die hard. "I think it's fair that you know that I'll eventually have to leave New York. But while I'm here, and… you know, after we get out of this elevator, I think I'd like to get to know you a little better. I mean, whatever you want to tell me. And then you have something to put in your story, right? Dated a jerk who eventually disappeared and didn't even call or write or anything!"

"I'm sorry," she says quietly, then pushes away from the wall she leans against to sit next to rather than face him. It makes for less awkward eye contact, but there is the warmth of having someone close by that is comforting somehow. "Your life sounds more complicated even then mine, and I really didn't even think that was possible," Morgan says, leaning her head back against the paneling of the elevator.

As for his proposition, she smiles. "Beggars can't be choosers. I don't really have any friends, except my roommate, so a temporary one is an improvement, right?" She smiles wryly. "You could write me a postcard once in a while, if you wanted."

For a moment, he almost smiles again. Postcards? Tracable. What if Jo's watchng the mail? It's amazing how one kid - a woman now, he reminds himself - can make him so paranoid. He wouldn't be surprised if, when the elevator doors opened, Jo was standing there waiting for him with a shotgun. The thought makes him shiver.

He can't completely dash Morgan's hopes, though. They're so much alike; as he said earlier, maybe things do happen for a reason. He can only assume that there was a reason that they met. "Yeah, I'll try to send you a postcard. Depends on where I end up."

There's another noise from above them. The elevator lurches again, but doesn't move. Kain's fingers grip at the floor; if his reaper's out there, he hopes she doesn't plan on cutting the cable and killing Morgan, too. "No friends really?" Man, it kinda sounds like you were livin' under a rock before you came here. No offense. I mean, I can't really talk, either. I don't stay anywhere long enough to have friends."

His words bring a sad smile to her lips and she shrugs one shoulder. "I had friends, or something like it. Just no one now. No one here. My friend… and sort of by default some of her friends, but … you know how that goes. They're probably only nice to me because they have to be." After all, she's not real, to put it in Janet's words.

Her eyes lift to the ceiling, then down to her purse which she rummages through, coming up with a little bag of 100-calorie count Wheat Thins. "Hungry?"

It's Kain's turn to be sad. "What're you talking about, Morgan?? You're… Awesome. I mean, you even know how to clean up vomit in a hallway, and— I mean, you coulda just walked the other way. Who wants to help a janitor! But, you know, that's… Just what I think. No one would just be nice to you because they had to be." Kain's being nice because he needs someone. And he likes her, too. Biting his lip, he takes a chance and reaches for her hand— Only for her to pull it away when she reaches for her purse. Quickly, he pulls his hand back as if he hand't been planing on taking hers at all!

"Yeah, I am, actually!" he says, though his eyes can't help but show their disappointment when they land on Morgan's offering. He could eat twelve of those right now. Still, after the momentary disappointment, he says, "Any port in a storm, I guess. And we don't know how long we'll be stuck in here, huh?"

She smiles and hands him the bag. "I'm not that hungry — I had a bite before I left home to come back. The whole 'eat something now so you can eat a teensy salad and pretend to be dainty' trick." She's been reading Cosmo. "Not that I'm dainty, mind you. I kinda stopped a robbery the other day, actually. I also probably got my friend's sister shot, so that's one of those people that I'm talking about only pretending to like me, but we haven't talked enough lately for me to know if she's even going to pretend that much, actually." Babble much? She must have noticed the hand after all.

"Awesome, I'm so hungry," he says, taking the bag and managing to rip it open without sending the contents flying everywhere. As he stuffs his face, he says, "You don't have to pretend." Pause. "I guess we both already are, hah, but really. You don't have to be dainty."

The entire bag of Wheat Thins is gone almost as soon as the bag is opened, and he wishes there were more. "You stopped a robbery?" Kain can't help looking her up and down. She doesn't seem the type that would be capable of stopping a robbery. "That's kind of cool, actually…" Unfortunately, Morgan goes back to that whole 'pretend to like her' thing. "Do you think I'm pretending to like you, too?"

She tilts her head and thinks about it for a moment, before shaking it. "No… but it's not like I've told you really enough to like or dislike, have I? Maybe to send you fleeing for the nearest escape route, but you don't have one, so you're stuck." She smiles to show she's teasing, but shrugs one shoulder. "I think we're sort of kindred spirits, even if we can't really say that much about who we are or where we're from. I guess that's something to like — or at least, it's nice to know that someone else understands. I like being able to just be, and not pretend, with you."

It's really not necessary for someone to tell everything to make a judgement call about them. Morgan seems nice enough to Kain, so why wouldn't he like her. "Well, you aren't scared of me, you aren't tryin' to get me to tell everything, and… Yeah, we kinda both have some secrets. And I promise I'll never ask what you're keeping quiet. I'll try to stay as long as I can, too."

The elevator starts to move slowly downward. The mechanical noise above them starts up again as a winch supports the elevator car's considerable weight. Eventually, with a shudder, it stops. There's voices outside the door as it's pried open. "You still wanna head downstairs for something to eat?" he asks. "We could totally take the stairs this time, unless you want to play with fate and try the other elevator."

"I think maybe," Morgan says as she climbs out — the elevator being about a foot short of the floor level — with the help of the repair man on the other side, "stairs are a good idea. Maybe thirteen will be he lucky number and the last stuck elevator for me." Somehow she doubts that.

Once on the solid floor, she thanks the team of rescuers, then reaches for Kain's hand, a little shyly. "That was definitely a better elevator trip than the last time I got stuck," she says with a smirk. She can't tell him why, of course. She barely made it out of that one alive.

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