Fate or Chance


des3_icon.gif lynette_icon.gif

Scene Title Fate or Chance
Synopsis Lynette and Des discuss their intertwined circumstances over coffee.
Date March 2, 2018

The Benchmark Recovery and Counseling Center

Benchmark is a tall, red brick building renovated into a rehab facility. The first floor holds doctors' offices, reception, waiting areas and conference rooms. The lobby is warm and inviting, with a rust-colored design scheme and paintings of calm oceans and pristine beaches. The common areas follow this design, but each doctor has designed their own offices to their own tastes. The upper floors holds dorm-style rooms, split for two occupants per room. Each floor has a communal shower/bathroom. Very dorm-like. Freshman dorms. There is one room on each floor for an employee assigned to that floor, as a communication point for the clients and semi-guard for them, too. This room is more self-contained and the employees are not expected to use the same facilities as the client.

The top floor is different, set up more like an apartment building, where people come to live. These are typically ex-Ferrymen or the like who need a place to stay and are willing to exchange room and board for some work maintaining the building. They do not interact with the clients. The doctors are also welcome to stay in these apartments, but most choose not to.

Morning comes late around the Center, at least for Lynette. When she wanders into the common room, she's still in shorts and a tanktop covered by a thin, silky robe. Her hair's pulled back from her face in a lazy bun and she looks very much like she didn't sleep at all. Or very little.

And she goes straight for the coffee maker. Because she needs some. Water is gotten, coffee is ground, the machine is turned on. All in a sort of automatic mode.

Des makes her way to the common room in her stocking feet, sleep pants and tee shirt. It's not like her to be seen without something to cover her neck and the awful burn scar there, but at this point? Being recognized doesn't quite rank. And lots of people have war injuries.

Pushing her glasses up her nose as she inhales deeply, Des sighs. "Oh, coffee. Thank goodness." She offers a sort of nervous smile to Lynette. "Good morning." She looks worlds better now that she's had some sleep. There's still dark circles under her eyes, but that has more to do with her lifestyle than yesterday's overexertion. "Is… How's Mateo doing? How are you doing?" That was stressful for all involved.

Lynette straightens up when she hears someone else enter. So when she turns to look over at Des, it's with a tired, but easy smile. "It'll be ready in a few minutes," she says before she turns to pull down an extra mug. She gave up many of her addictions. Not this one, though.

It's hard to say if Lynette never notices Des' scar, but then again, she might think nothing of it. She's got plenty of her own. From the war. Mostly. "You look better," she says, her tone relieved. "He'll be okay. Drained, but after some rest, he'll be okay." There's still some worry there, like she's half trying to convince herself. "Don't worry about me, all I did was play nurse."

"It was quite a shock for you, I'm sure." Des doesn't realize the pun she's just made. She comes to stand a conversational distance from the other woman, resting her hip against the counter. For a moment, all she does is look down at the floor - or some point midway to it - and shake her head.

"I have so many questions. Where do I even begin?"

The pun gets a laugh, even though Lynette knows Des didn't mean for it to be one. It strikes her as amusing, and thus, she laughs. "Not as much as you might think. It's happened before. The overload." Probably less so the metaphysical parts, but she seems to have taken them in stride, so who knows. Her expression turns more bittersweet as Des goes on, though. "At the very beginning? I hear it's a very good place to start," she says, her tone light. Probably to try to keep Des comfortable. "Ruiz, the other one, did you know he came from somewhere else when you met him?"

"That's not what I meant." The laughter is a little confusing to her, but it isn't bothersome. "I mean… to find someone else who understands the mystery of Ruiz." Not to mention her husband in the arms of a strange woman. That part was probably a little off-putting at first.

To Lynette's question, Des nods her head. "Yes, I figured it out pretty quickly. We met… by chance. I decided I wanted to talk to someone, so I decided to talk to him. And he called me Dess, even though I never gave him my name." Her lips pull into a small smirk then. "I knew he wasn't a telepath, so it couldn't be that. When I asked him who we were to each other, he said 'I don't know you and you don't know me.' Which… It wasn't hard for me to put two and two together." It should have been, but her life experiences are many and varied. Nothing really seems outlandish anymore.

"Oh. That, well. I'm not sure I can claim to understand," Lynette says with a chuckle, "but I try to." She has had some resources to tap as far as that mystery goes. The story about her conversation with Ruiz gets a sad, but crooked smile. "He told me he would explain later," she says, "when I asked him how he knew me. I thought… maybe something had happened to my memory. But when a telepath friend checked, there wasn't any hint of him anywhere that they could see." And since she went right to the memory wipe explanation, maybe her life has given her a similar perspective on how crazy things seem. Or don't.

"When I met Mateo, that's when it clicked for me. Because he was definitely not the same person. Despite appearances."

Des' brows hike up for a moment in appreciation. Lynette's first instinct was a good one. If it hadn't been for some of the other things Ruiz had said, she would have assumed the same. "Yeah… He told me he was going to tell me everything. We got interrupted, though." If she had only waited a few minutes before calling Elias, maybe she would have heard his story.

Or maybe they would both have been buried beneath the Ark for waiting too long.

"Where in the world did you find him? And how?" The brunette's face wrinkles up with confusion. Of all the people on the planet, and somehow Lynette finds him? If Des was inclined to believe in fate… Well, this is kind of making her think about it, actually.

"Yeah, I guess it was something of a day for interruptions." Lynette doesn't ask what Des was doing there. Probably because she knows the answer wouldn't be a good one, whatever it is. She remembers her own time with the Institute well enough to know she wouldn't want to talk about it.

"Um," Lynette furrows her brow some, because the story really is the sort of thing that brings up troubling thoughts about destiny, "In Mexico. I was running one of these down there after the war. Silvia was living there." She's not entirely sure that Mateo explained anything about Silvia, but she's not stopping to herself. "Mateo was passing through, she was in town, they knew each other from when she was younger… She brought him to the Center so he'd have somewhere to stay." There is a lot of and it just so happened in that story. Lynette brings a hand up to rub over her face. Like maybe she hadn't ever put it like that before.

"And there you were." Des nods like she understands. There's pieces missing, certainly, but there's enough there. "Right place, right time." There's a quiet breath of laughter as she looks away, expression becoming distant again. "Almost makes a girl believe in soulmates."

Then she looks back over, staring at Lynette from over the top of her glasses. "I don't know much about him. Ruiz, I mean. But… I've been able to get some inkling from the words he left behind." Her shoulder comes up in a half shrug and drops again. "I know he loved you. Or some version of you, anyway."

"I know. I've become the worst kind of romantic," Lynette says with a tone that implies she used to think that sort of thing was silly, "because of all this." She rolls her eyes at herself. But it's indulgent. Maybe she doesn't mind silly now.

She steps away to pour the coffee, bringing the mugs, cream, and sugar over to the counter. "You said there was a book?" If she caught the conversation correctly. Her gaze drops at those last words, though. "Some version. His Lynette," she says, letting out a sigh. "I didn't realize it at the time. But he saved me because of her."

"And he was glad for it." Des takes off her glasses and sets them aside, letting her tears flow freely as she pours cream into her coffee. "It was… the last thing he talked about. I didn't realize it at the time. I didn't know who he meant. Until I met you."

It maybe isn't the only explanation, but somehow, Des knows it's the correct one. "I feel… I feel almost like I know you." She offers a trembling smile at that. "Is that weird? I'm sorry."

At the tears, Lynette steps over to put her hand on Des' shoulder. "I'm glad he got… some measure of peace. And I'm glad he didn't die alone. Thank you for that. I'm not sure it's really my place to, but thank you."

Her own coffee is forgotten, because she's trying to be comforting, an instinct she didn't used to have, but it comes naturally these days. "It would probably be a lot weirder to anyone else," she says dryly. Her life is weird. "We're all obviously connected somehow. Some… versions of us, at least. Us, too. Now." Since here they are.

"I don't know what any of this means." For someone who wants to know why and how come about everything, that's a difficult admission. Des sets a hand over the one on her shoulder. "There's something different about him. And I don't just mean because he's not from that other timeline."

Giving her head a shake, she reaches up with her free hand to wipe at the tears on her face. They're still coming, but slower now. "We sat down at the piano together, and we… We knew the same songs." She swallows visibly, confused and concerned. "I've never had a partner before. I don't know where I learned those pieces." Des gestures toward the piano. "We knew to switch places during the middle of a song, like we'd practiced it a thousand times. It was as instinctive as breathing." What the fuck does that even mean?

"Neither do I," Lynette says with a self-depreciating chuckle, "I really feel like I'm just along for the ride. I just know… whatever's coming, I'll be there for him." Because he is different. "And so will you," she states, as if this is a known fact. "And we might have to save at least one more. So, I hope you're up for it when it happens." She lost one. No more.

"He told me about that. That he knew songs, but didn't know how he knew them. He doesn't like to talk about his past much, but I wonder. Maybe he's connected to his other selves. Like you are. Maybe those songs are from you two, elsewhere." Crazier things have happened. Well. Maybe not crazier, but pretty up there.

Lynette's acceptance of this insanity, and of her, causes the emotion to well up in Des. She isn't used to being accepted or welcomed anywhere. Even now. "Yes." Her voice is strained. "I'll be here, if you'll both have me." Her lip quivers as she fights back a sob. A deep breath, and she's maintained her control.

What follows is a moment of quiet consideration. Des never thought that someone else could be like her. She isn't even sure how she is the way she is. "You said… You said you had a telepath look in your head? Has Mateo?" She knows where she can find one. Richard's been prodding her gently to let Kaylee help her sort her jumbled head. This might be sufficient enough motivation to finally allow it.

That emotion isn't missed, and Lynette gives her a squeeze on the shoulder. Nothing more, since she is trying to control it. "Of course. If you're willing to help keep him… safe and here, then you're very welcome. You obviously care about him. And there's a lot we all have to figure out."

Lynette sighs at the question that follows, and she shakes her head. "No. He hasn't." Not that she's ever asked him. But she doesn't have to. "I only did because I knew them and trusted them. I'm not entirely sure he would… want to." For reasons.

"He and I are connected somehow," Des says with conviction. "I can feel it. Not just our other selves. Us." It didn't click until Lynette mentioned memory alteration. Now she can't stop thinking about it. She spent enough years in the care of the Company to realize her mind could have been altered many times over. Ellie's certainly was. There's no excuse for why it never occurred to her before.

They won't find any answers to that question over coffee, however. "You mentioned a map before. What was that about?"

"Well. It might be good to get a look, then. I can recommend someone." It's even the same someone, even if Lynette doesn't know that. She doesn't seem to think Mateo will like the idea, though. Maybe if all else fails.

"Oh, that's… wild speculation," Lynette says, but with a smile. It's all wild. "We have this friend. She's precognative. She saw Ruiz get lost. And she saw Mateo. And she said there was another on. Lost. Drifting. And she said that she was a peephole, he was a door, and I was a battery. I'm electrokinetic. His power can feed off mine." She doesn't bother doing anything to her coffee, just drinks it black. "But if you're connected to all the others… And assuming we figure anything out at all about any of this… maybe we can use your connection to track him down. The lost one."

"I'm not sure who to trust." Which isn't to say Des will necessarily take Lynette's recommendation, but she's willing to hear it. She has a lot of secrets locked up in her head. And if Lynette knew who she really was, she might not be so welcoming.

His power can feed off mine. Understanding comes to Des. Now she realizes what happened when she attempted to stop time and halt the pull of his ability. "Mine too," she says quietly. "I don't quite know what happened, but something did. I've never seen anything like it before." She has a lot of first hand experience with just how little her ability plays nice with others.

"Well, trust is important. Especially in this case. It could be a solution, but it isn't a sure thing." Which is to say, Lynette would understand if she chose not to. "I'll give my friend a call and see if I can pass you to them." Privacy is protected all around.

When Des goes on, Lynette's eyebrows lift. "Oh. You were using— Oh." That seems to explain a lot to her, too. "His power doesn't really like other powers. I mean, he can use mine, but if I pull from his," she says, gesturing to the room. That thing that happened? That thing happens. Or something like it. "Found that out the hard way. Seems like you did, too."

The coffee mug is lifted finally for Des to take a little sip now that she's not going to cry into it. "Yeah. I was trying…" She frowns. "I was trying to help. I didn't know that could happen. My power usually trumps other powers." So that's new.

The piano gets her focus now, remembering the shape of him sitting there, playing those last notes of Debussy. "It seems like we have that in common." She needs to talk to him again, ask him more about his ability. How it affects him. After another sip of coffee, Des considers Lynette again. "Does your ability sound like anything to you? If that doesn't make sense, then that's the answer to my question. I don't know how to frame it any other way."

"We've been working on some theories," Lynette says to Des' first point, "I think it's possible that his power trumps all powers." Which might explain why she feels he needs protecting. "At the very least, I understand what they wanted from him. At the Ark." Unconfirmed though her theories may be, she seems pretty sure about it all the same.

"Not the way it does for him," Lynette says. She has some understanding of the question, at least from her perspective. "I've heard his, though." She doesn't seem frightened by the sound, though. "Mine isn't like that."

Des looks uncomfortable - feels uncomfortable - at the mention of what the Institute wanted with Ruiz and his ability. She knows what they hoped to gain from it. She read his file many times over. "They didn't understand it," she says quietly. "They thought they could control it, but… Not in the way they intended to. He wouldn't have let them anyway."

The previously abandoned glasses are reached for and settled back on her face. It feels like putting on a mask. Protection. "You heard it? How?"

"Of course they didn't. He would never have played ball." Lynette did, when she was in his place. But she knows he didn't. She also knows he could have sunk the place long before the Ferry got there. If he'd had a mind to.

Her hands cup her mug, for warmth. For comfort. Maybe as a reaction to Des' lack of it. "Sorry. I know it's not a great topic to dwell on." The Institute, that is. But when her questions come, Lynette tilts her head a little. As if she's not sure about how to answer. "I trained him." And apparently, she thinks that's enough to explain it.

Des shakes her head. "I stood right next to him and I couldn't hear it." But she could scarcely hear over the thrum of power in her own head either. There's part of her that knows it must be as bad for him. Not because of whatever connection she thinks exists, but because of the way he reacted. The first time she used her ability, she had felt that. Could still, the way it was before. "What does it sound like?"

Lynette lifts an eyebrow as she looks over at Des. Her expression becomes difficult to read for a moment or two. "I think that's a question you should ask him," she says. It's sort of odd. Lynette seems apprehensive suddenly. Wary. She didn't look that way when Des's arms were around Mateo. Not even when her lips were on him. But she does now, at that question. It's just a moment, but it's there. She brushes it away, replacing it with a more relaxed expression. "He could explain it better than I could, anyway."

"Did… I say something wrong?" Des' brows furrow. Inwardly, she curses herself. That's the kind of expression she expected before, not now. What was wrong with the question she asked? Why does it make the difference? "If I've said something upsetting, I want to understand why, so I don't repeat my mistake."

"Not wrong," Lynette says, "just curious." She tilts her head some, curious herself. "I've been rude," she ends up saying, "I'm sorry. I only meant that there are parts of his ability that only he can really explain. Or that only he should explain. You understand how some aspects of a power can be deeply personal." That is also stated as fact, despite having only just met the woman the night before. Lynette is really into stating things she thinks as facts. At least when she's pretty sure about them.

"Ah, yes." Blue eyes wince, her smile is tight. "Of course. I'm sorry. I don't always… You've been wonderfully forthcoming so far. I got carried away." Des sighs. "Please accept my apologies. I'll ask him if he's comfortable sharing with me."

A rueful smirk pulls at her mouth then as a thought comes to her. This is also, she thinks, curious. "I never had anyone to train me. He's very lucky to have that in you."

"It's alright. You don't have to apologize," Lynette says with a smile that seems to ease back into comfortable. "It's an odd situation we've all found ourselves in. It's alright to get carried away."

Lynette blinks in surprise at her next words, though. "No one trained you? That must have been so hard," she says, sympathy in her tone. She wouldn't wish that on anyone. "I had training when I was young. I wish everyone did."

"There was nobody else like me." Her head is given a quick shake. "I mean, there were, of course. I wasn't the only… Evolved." She's never explained this to anyone before. This goes against every rule Odessa Knutson ever set for herself back when she was fifteen years old and discovered her mastery over time. Every rule that was set for her. "Nobody else could do what I can do. Nobody else could understand it."

Her smile is easier this time, if a little resigned as she shrugs. "I've taught someone else how to use my ability since then. But so much of it is just instinct." Des has to admit to herself that she actually appreciates the sympathy.

"Seems to me that no one bothered to try to understand it. I mean, some abilities are really… out there, but it isn't like there's no possible way to figure it out. Didn't they ask you about it? Your perception of it?" Lynette is belatedly disappointed in whoever it was that didn't do the work with Young Des. "I don't know who you had with you, but it sounds like they dropped the ball."

That is correct, Lynette is judging you, people from decades ago.

"That's how mine is, too. A lot of instinct. But I had to learn how to lock it down fast. Control and growth, that's how I like to approach it." Still, because Lynette doesn't believe in limits to abilities, only to time and imagination.

Well, it's The Company, so they deserve every ounce of scorn Lynette is willing to spare them, if they're being honest. And for a change, Des is. "I wasn't exactly candid about what it was like inside of my head. I was very young and… I didn't trust people." That's a small wonder.

"I was told I was dangerous." Literally, she was told the opposite. That the world was too dangerous. But now, she understands that it was her. Des was lied to about the state of the world in order to ensure she would be compliant in her own imprisonment. "I've been in one cage or another most of my life. No one ever really wanted to understand my ability, only control it."

It's a revelation to her, too. Maybe Richard was right after all. Maybe she did just need to talk to somebody. Even if Lynette's not necessarily the right person.

Lynette listens, her head tilted and her expression concerned. She reaches her hand over to rest on Des' arm. "You are not dangerous. Your ability doesn't make you dangerous." It's a little late, this reassurance, seeing as Des is not that young girl anymore, but Lynette feels the need to tell her anyway. It's earnest. Des has to hear it. "That should never have happened to you."

"I'm… not sure you're right about that." Des says softly, tipping her head down to look at the hand on her arm. "I've done horrible things to people. I've let the power consume me." She's braced now to be turned away. Her fingers curl tightly around the mug of coffee, and she can't meet Lynette's eyes. Ashamed.

She's afraid of being told to stay away from Mateo. But she can't lie to them. She can't pretend to be something she isn't in order to gain their trust. "I'm trying to make a new start, but I'm afraid it's not enough…"

"Des," Lynette says and Des might notice that she's not exactly repelled, "so have I. I've done good things, bad things, I faked being good for a long time hoping that it would turn out to be true one day. I've made about a hundred new starts. Sometimes I had to wake up every day and tell myself I was going to be a good person. You know what helped it stick?" This is a rhetorical question, and the pause is only for effect. "Someone who believed I could change. And that wanted to be good meant there was good in there somewhere. So. I'm that for you. I know you're not dangerous. I know you get to decide who you are from today and onward."

There's a small pause before she adds, "And it's okay to be afraid."

That last sentence has Des looking up finally, eyes wide and frightened, now given permission. Her chest rises and falls with the effort it takes not to start sobbing. The tears, like before, are silent, but many. "Why? Why would you do this for someone you don't really know?"

"Because no one deserves a cage," Lynette says, and her hand moves to Des' cheek for a moment. "And everyone deserves another chance, when they want one." Not a second chance, but another. Lynette tilts her head some, giving Des a small smile. "And we can fix the part where we don't know each other very well. That's easy."

Des sets down the mug of coffee. Her hands are shaking so much she might drop it otherwise. She reaches out briefly, like she wants to embrace Lynette, but thinks better of it. Instead, she squeezes her eyes just and leans into the hand on her cheek, resting her hand over the top of it. "Thank you." What else can she say?

Lynette sees the movement, and the moment where she rethinks it. So she just pulls Des into a hug anyway. Whatever brought them all together, be it fate or just chance, Lynette is willing to embrace the whole crazy situation. And given that she got her own second (and third and sixth) chance, she's also willing to pay it forward. "You're welcome." When she pulls back, she looks at Des again. "You're gonna be okay."

No one has ever said that to her before. Even when the Ferry gave her a second chance, she was still regarded warily. Treated like a dangerous animal. Rightfully so, of course. Which only makes Des feel that much more guilty about the trust being placed in her now. Even Richard Ray keeps a close eye on her to make sure she isn't about to backslide on him.

But Lynette? Seems to just trust in the power of the woman's own will to keep her honest. "I've… I never had a family. I barely even have friends." Des shakes her head helplessly. "I'm afraid I'm going to fuck this up."

"Sometimes we do. We're human. Messing up comes with the territory. There's a difference between mistakes and malice." Lynette knows about backsliding, after all. Every addict does. Even if it isn't quite the same as Des' situation, Lynette seems to think it's enough to give her an understanding. "And anyway. You have some friends now." Or whatever they all are. "As long as you want to get it right, you can't fuck it up so bad that it isn't fixable."

"I hope you're right." Des leans forward to hug Lynette again, trembling as she does. She draws back far enough to catch her friend's eye. "Do you think you can help me learn to control it, too?" If she could help Mateo, maybe there's some hope for Des as well. And Des needs to figure out a better way to learn control. Maybe if she does, she can find a way to cheat the death that draws nearer each time she triggers the use of her ability. It's a gamble, but worth a shot.

"I usually am," Lynette says, and that's more playful. But when she finds herself in another hug, she returns it warmly. "Of course," she says to the question, "I'd be happy to. If you're comfortable talking to me about your ability." Probably not just the power itself, but things like feelings. "Once we're all recovered from the excitement," she says, because that's a totally accurate way to describe the previous night, "we'll work out the details, yeah?"

Des nods, disengaging from the hug and wiping at her face with her fingers, smiling with genuine happiness. She can't remember the last time she's felt like this. "I'm going to go get dressed and then I think I'll come back out and play the piano. Something nice for Mateo to wake up to." She gives Lynette's hand a squeeze before retrieving her coffee and waving good-bye before she turns to head back to her borrowed room.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License