Neglect Can Do That

Participants:

lynette3_icon.gif mateo_icon.gif

Scene Title Neglect Can Do That
Synopsis The title is missleading.
Date June 08, 2018

Benchmark

The Ruiz Family apartment is a welcoming one. The morning sun hits the corner windows of the main room, giving the apartment a warm glow even through the curtains. A couch and coffee table sit opposite an entertainment system that was a bit of a splurge. But with the collection of movies, music, and games that sit there, it was a good choice for them. Near by, there is a pair of guitar stands, one of them quite small, where Mateo's guitar and his charango live when they're not in use.

The walls hold a gallery-style grouping of framed pictures. At the center is a panoramic of a beach in Mexico that is, quite frankly, gorgeous. But it also includes a photo from Lynette and Mateo's wedding day, Silvia covered in paint and laughing, the three of them squished together and laughing. And such things to showcase a happy family.

Silvia's artwork is sprinkled around the room as well, enough to show that her parents are proud of her talent and hard work, but not quite enough to be totally embarrassing . It's a delicate balance.

Off the living room, a hallway leads to the family's bedrooms while the other direction opens into a small kitchen.


Today, Lynette finds herself with nothing much to do. Silvia's gone out, work is handled, the security upgrades are done, Mateo's healed enough not to need her help. And while there are certainly worse things that could happen than boredom, it's a dangerous time for an addict.

Especially an addict that's been under stress and unwilling to burden her partner with it.

Since the shooting, Lynette's been… closed off. Not distant or cold, but she's been pushing things down instead of talking through them. For the sake of Mateo's health, at first. But over a month later and it's more like she's fallen into an old habit. A bad habit. She's always had plenty of those to spare.

She bought the bottle weeks ago. A comfort. She was never going to drink it. But here, alone in the apartment, bored and unearthing it from the back of a cabinet, she realizes that she was always going to drink it.

The last few days Mateo has been well enough to move about without showing signs of pain, well enough to play the guitar and do othe things. So thankfully it also meant he was finally well enough to get out from under his warden— wife's eyes for a little while. Little did he realize that she would take this opportunity to give into the temptation he'd known she had been feeling for a while.

He could tell, even if he'd never been around her when she had been partaking in her particular addictions. He had seen the change. Part of him had hoped it was just worry over him, that seeing him well again would fix part of it—

But all it did was let her say yes when he asked if he could go to the common area and tickle the ivories a little.

The door opens as she's unearthing the bottle, the sounds of moving things perhaps drowning it out, but a few moments later there's someone standing in the room. He hesitates. For a whole few breaths. She might even have a chance to open thee bottle before he finally says anything. "The piano needs tuning," is what he ends up saying, before he steps closer and reaches out, as if he might take the bottle away from her.

Lynette does not hear him. Whether it's due to the noise or single-minded focus, he gets to slip in under her nose. She stands once she has the bottle, cracking it open on the way up. At least he can tell this is the first time she's gotten this far. It's still full, untouched until just now.

He speaks, she jumps.

"Mateo," she says, tone implying that she might follow with you scared me. She doesn't, though. "Does it? I guess a month of neglect— " He moves toward her and she slides the bottle away from him, although a wince follows, like she hadn't meant to actually do that. " — will do that. To the piano."

When she pushes the bottle away from him, Mateo's hand drops, a hint of a sigh in his voice as he continues, "It does. And I have a feeling some of the kids were playing it while no one else was." Like the one kid that had been 'rescued' from Mexico, maybe. Running fingers along the keys in an untrained way, banging it recklessly in a way that would mess up the tuning. Many things could mess it up.

But in the end, he was glad, because it had let him come back instead of playing longer and catch her in this state. Because maybe there was something else that had been neglected.

While he didn't hold his hand out again, or reach for it, he did stay knelt beside her, resting his arms on his knees. "How long have you had that?" He'd heard mutters under her breath a few times, he'd noticed the way she would sometimes look into the distance longingly, but he didn't want to make accusations, either.

"That's possible. And likely," Lynette says, as if they might be able to ignore the elephant in the room and just have a normal conversation. "I'll get someone to come take care of it."

But he brings up the actual issue and Lynette closes her eyes and lets out a heavy sigh. "A month. Maybe a little longer." She brought it home after her meeting with Vincent and Hana, which she might have just called catching up with old friends. She didn't drink it then, but she didn't get rid of it, either. She settles onto the floor, looking at the design in the tile rather than at him. Her fingers don't let go of the bottle, or the cap in her other hand. "I just grabbed it on a whim," she says, although even she isn't sure if that makes it better or worse.

A month. Maybe longer. Mateo could imagine when she might have gotten it, as he'd been shot a month ago and a little longer. He's sure it hadn't been the same day, but he wouldn't be surprised if it had been soon after. "It's been a long month," he admits, rather than trying to judge her. He may not understand addiction in the same way, but he understood other things. He understood how worried he'd been this past month. Not just about himself, but about her and SIlvia. And Des. Everything that'd been going on with Des.

And he could imagine that would lead to something like this, as she worried about him, as she worried about everything.

"Do you want to talk about it? I'm not one of your trained people, but I can listen." That's the extent of what he can offer to her, an understanding ear. Even if he'll never really understand completely.

Lynette nods to the notion of the month being a long one. Longer than it should have been. Her eyes slide to the bottle. Inside there is a sort of comfort. The kind that numbs everything away and lets your mind drift off the obsessions. There's no stress, no pain, no guilt. There's nothing. For years, that nothing pulled her through the darkest times. Helped her disconnect and see things from a distance. To see herself from a distance. Which worked for her. She lived disconnected. She liked her distance.

The question brings her attention back up.

Disconnecting doesn't hold the same appeal it once did. The addiction doesn't care about that shift, but Lynette does. He can see it on her face while she works on convincing herself that it would be okay to talk to him. And while she works out what to say. Dismissing it as impulse is easy. But they both know it goes deeper than that.

"I can't save anyone," she says, eventually. Her voice sounds raw, like she's trying to keep the actual emotion out of it and mostly failing.

Unfortunately, Mateo's not a therapist. He doesn't know the right thing to say even if he'd like to. "I know it can feel that way, sometimes," he responds quietly, tone whispered. This he understood. When he'd left Vanguard he'd tried to find something, anything to keep going. Saving Silvia had been the smallest of things, but it had given him a chance to feel like he could make up for all the big things.

One little thing at a time.

"But I don't know if I would say anyone. You've saved me." More than once. And he meant more than just physically. If they hadn't met, he didn't know where he would be. Probably still avoiding everyone and trying to stay on the fringe of society down in Mexico, only showing his face when he got lonely or hungry and ran out of supplies.

They may have saved each other in many ways, but it was mutual. The home they had had saved them both.

Lynette looks over at him, her head tilting to lean against the cabinets as she listens. Something in what he says seems to make her have to fight off her lip quivering and her eyes growing more wet.

"I didn't save you when it counted. When it was life or death. All I could do was sit and watch." She looks away from him there, like she still wants to hide how scared she was, how guilty she is. "Didn't save the other Ruiz and he needed me to. He loved her so much." Which they both know, thanks to the poetry.

"And I tried to help Des and only succeeded in alienating two people I used to be able to rely on. And then all I can find is more proof that she— I believe her that she wants a new start and I'm not going to stop until I find something that will help her— but it's hard, Mateo. I was in the war before the war. I fought Humanis First. Killed them. They almost killed me plenty of times." He's seen the scars, after all. "Killed just about everyone I fought with. Wanted to do a lot worse."

He has seen her scars. Just as she has seen, in many ways, what he's capable of doing, even if she didn't know the full extent of what he did while working with Kazimir and Iago. Mateo would never forget. Just as he knew she wouldn't forget the faces of her team who had died because of her. She never told him what all their code names have been, but he imagined any time she heard their names, whatever Olympian they had been, she thought of them, thought of what she had done.

"You did— actually," he responds after a moment, reaching for her hands so that he could take them into his. "Save me when it mattered. If I hadn't known I had to get back to you, I might not have ran when she shot me." He might have let her kill him, because he knew his crimes and knew he should pay for them. "I can't speak for the other me, but we both read his poems. He would have rather died than fail at saving you."

Like he'd failed his Lynette. It didn't make that he died okay, of course, but it did make… but in his mind the alternative would have been worse. If she had died instead, it would have devastated him. And he never would have met her. "It's okay, 'Nette. It's okay to feel all these things. It's one of the things I love about you."

That she too had a past she regretted, that she wanted to help people. That she believed in them. And that she felt as helpless as he did, a lot of the time.

When he reaches for her hands, Lynette actually lets go of the vodka. He might be the only thing she would let go of it for. As a result, her grip on him is tight— uncomfortably so— like she will only be able to not reach for the bottle if she's got him to hang onto. While he talks, she leans her forehead against their hands, but he can tell she's listening, because tears hit his fingers.

Before she straightens up, Lynette wipes her eyes against her arms, collecting herself. It won't hide the redness on her face or the fact that she is sitting inches from falling off the wagon. "I'm sorry," she says, "it's just been… a lot. And I wanted you to be able to heal in as much peace as I could give you." There were some things that were unavoidable, like newspapers and videotapes, but she did her best.

Her hands move up to his face then, although it is still a desperate hold on him. "You always run, okay? I need you to do that. We stay alive, no matter what. You, me, and Silvia, we all need each other." She doesn't want them to be the next Lynette and Mateo that lose one another. She doesn't want either of them dying for the sake of the other.

In the Arcology, she didn't even know Ruiz, but the weight of that sacrifice has often been too heavy to carry. The weight of the same happening with Mateo isn't something she's willing to endure. And she isn't willing to make him endure it, either.

"No, don't apologize. It has been a lot." Mateo tries to tell her, leaning forward to kiss her as she holds his face in her hands. His own hands move down to rest on her waist, pulling her a little closer and away from that bottle. Not because he wanted to get her away from it, but because he wanted her closer. It really had been a lot. For all of them.

At her request to always run, he nods. "I know. I have something I have to live for." Something that his other self had already lost. Part of him hoped that somehow, somewhere, him and his lightning were now together. That they would be together in spirit even if they could no longer be together in body.

"I already said it and I meant. This is my perfect world. You and Silvia. Us." Us encompassing all of them. He wanted no other world.

Lynette leans into that kiss, her side more needy than usual. It's easy to pull her closer, and the touch of his hands on her waist deepens the kiss. But he can feel the tension wearing off, how her hands relax, how being closer to him helps ground her.

Because this is her perfect world, too. One she isn't willing to risk, even to the numb comfort of the bottle. She just needs a reminder sometimes.

"I need you to do something with that," she asks, nodding back toward the vodka. She won't be able to herself. Of course, it might be difficult for him to at the moment, since she's still holding onto him. It is hard for her to ask for help, especially help she doesn't want but knows she needs. But if there is someone that has to see her weak, he's the only one she would accept. And when she opens her eyes to look at him, they hold the truth she seldomly says out loud. That she loves him. That her heart would break without him.

"I can't do this alone."

"And you'll never have to," Mateo responds immediately, kissing her again before he takes the bottle from her hands. She'll feel something flickering in the air before it manifests next to his hand. The sound is there, the hint of a pull picking up the dust and possibly not the best idea he's ever had. Cause it starts to pull on everything a little bit.

Before it messes up the entire room or sucks up more than a little dust, he tosses the bottle inside and closes it behind it. Yeah, may not have been his best plan, but he trusted his ability for possibly the first time ever.

"There. Gone." Never mind that his hair is slightly windblown, that the paperwork on the desk was strung about a little. But the bottle is gone.

Those words seem to make Lynette's lip quiver some, her eyes glistening before she leans into his kiss. Lynette had planned on being alone. Sometimes because she trust other people enough to lean on, but mostly because she never thought herself capable of it. Or worthy of it.

But when he takes the bottle and use his portal to get rid of it, she can't help a light chuckle. She has to straighten her hair, and takes it upon herself to fix his, too. "Have I ever told you," she starts, amusement in her words, but as she goes on, they turn more sly, "how sexy I find it that you have this phenomenal power… that you use to take out the trash? Or grab the book you left across the room. Don't think I haven't seen you at it, because I have." Her fingers slide back through his hair to settle on his neck. "And that you are a gentle, warm, compassionate person, that's very sexy, too."

Typically, people with a lot of power— of whatever stripe— like to show it off. Lord it over people. She should know— there are still people who call her Zeus.

She leans in to rest her forehead against his, letting out a sigh before she adds, "Thank you."

With hands in his hair, Mateo smiles as she calls him sexy, looking a little sheepish about his casual ability usage. The portals had been easier to do that with. They weren't as potentially dangerous. They had more general uses. But he didn't often open a void portal for something so minor.

But he had used his portals to get things from across the room multiple times while in recovery. Mostly cause he hadn't wanted to get up."I also tried to get the remote from across the room once. I had to send Silvia to buy a new one before you found out." But it had been obvious they had a new one. It hadn't even looked the same.

As she rests against his forehead, his eyes close. "Anytime, mi vida."

Anytime at all.


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