What If...


lynette_icon.gif mateo_icon.gif

Scene Title What If…
Synopsis Lynette tries out a new aspect of her power and Mateo ends up finding out something new about his.
Date June 28, 2017

The Benchmark Center: Mexico

Normally, Mateo is awake well before Lynette is, but sometimes she beats him. Mostly on nights she can't sleep. Which might be cheating, but a win is a win. This morning, on the pillow next to him there's a small box of donuts— from a local bakery that he now knows very well, since it's Lynette's favorite— and on the bedside table is a mug of coffee, still steaming. She's not there, but she must not have been gone long. Propped up next to the coffee is a folded paper with his name written in familiar, looping penmanship.

My darling,
I'm down at the beach, at our spot. Come see me when you wake up.

Even she's using the nickname now. But only to him. Even though everyone around the center knows that's what he calls her. Any subtlety, if they ever had any, is long since gone. If she minds the looks they get, or the chittering from the younger ones, she hasn't shown it. But really, it's been folded into the general warm mood she's been floating around in.

The emptiness in the bed might have been the first thing he felt. Mateo had rolled onto her side, almost without thinking about it, likely as he did most mornings when he woke up so that he could rest his head on her shoulder, his cheek against her arm. Whichever. He would just stay there for a while before he finally did get out of bed and start to go about his day. Today, there was no warmth there to lay against, so he sat up more quickly, looking around until his eyes settled on the coffee, the note.

He drinks the coffee as he reads the note, finishing as much as he’s going to before he gets dressed. Then he grabs the donut box and makes his way down the stairs, out of the campus and to the beach, to their spot. He’s eating one of those donuts when he arrives.

Lynette's at work, it seems. Her training isn't limited to other people, after all, and there are some things she's been trying to accomplish with her own ability. But mostly she does it when she's alone, in stolen moments. People don't get to see it. And probably because it looks very much like she's running drills, back and forth across the sand. She's not in shoes, like she often isn't down here, but he can see the arcs of electricity coming off her once he gets closer.

It's also clear that she doesn't see him approaching, because she turns in the sand and heads the other direction.

Oh and her eyes have whited over, which is the first sign that something's different, because that doesn't happen to her when she uses her power. But today it does. And today, as she rushes away from him, heart pumping, adrenaline rushing, the arcs get bigger and lighting starts to pour off her, trailing behind in a series of flashes.

And then she's gone.

In a sense. A streak of lightning shoots down the beach away from him. It's fast, of course, too fast to track, but Lynette reappears where the lightning hits the ground. She rolls inelegantly and ends up on her back in the sand.

Those poor donuts. The box falls to the sand, but thankfully does not fall open, as Mateo sees her disappear into a streak of lightning. For a moment he feels like he almost missed a heartbeat from the sudden panic of seeing her just… vanish. That roar in the back of his mind becomes a crackling of electricity, threatening to open a portal so that he can get closer to the place she vanished more quickly, but he stops himself because— What would happen?

He feels himself breathe again when she reappears, and he’s running toward her, now opening a portal. One pull of electricity followed immediately by a second, as he jumps through and comes out the other side right next to her, abandoning the donuts. And the one he’d spit out in shock, too. “Are you okay? What was that, what happened?” The portal behind him flickers, the electricity staying in place, the surface like oily water. That had been the fastest he’d ever made two portals in her presence, even faster than the time they’d been fighting on the roof. Not even a breath between them.

Lynette manages to prop herself up on her elbows in time to see Mateo running her direction. She doesn't understand why, at first. And then she forgets to wonder about it as she watches a portal open and the second right by her. The timing isn't missed. But then, neither is Mateo jumping out of his portal. She reaches a hand out to his face, like she wants to prove that she's real and here and everything's okay. "I— " Lynette looks back to where she came from, then back at him again, "I think I just turned into electricity. I did, didn't I?" A little confused, a little disoriented, but okay otherwise. She sits up, even though it makes her dizzy. Her hand moves to his shoulder to help keep her steady. Her other hand lifts and she looks at it— but strangely. Like it might disappear any moment. Like maybe she isn't so sure she's totally solid. The last time she managed that, the last time she felt like she might slip away at any moment, was something of a stressful time and a frown comes to her face before she drops her hand and decides to look at him again.

He's better. Better times. Better feelings. Better life. Just better. "I didn't think it would work," she says, as if to explain why she didn't warn him. "I've been trying. Every time it's just running around until I'm exhausted and then kicking a rock in frustration and then regretting it because I didn't put on any shoes." It's like a ritual. "Are you okay? I didn't mean to scare you."

Oh, she scared him. Just based on the way Mateo drops to his knees at her side, one hand taking her hand, while the other touches her face, making sure she’s intact, and okay. He would touch her all over if he could, but hand and face seem enough for now. There’s the briefest spark of static, but he doesn’t care. “Yeah— you turned into lightning,” he answers her question, not berating her for attempting it, or not warning him about it. She seems as surprised as he had been.

Just not quite as terrified, possibly.

“Well, you don’t have to kick a rock this time,” he offers, still trying to make sure she’s not injured or has no permanent effects from it. “Just because I call you my lightning doesn’t mean you had to try making it literal, you know.” That’s a joke, to try and calm his heart down, to make her smile, maybe. “But are you okay? Really?”

Not terrified at all, by the look of her face. But then, she tends to revel in her ability. Even if she tries not to these days. But his joke brings her smile back, and more than that, because she leans in to kiss him. There might be a little static shock in that, too, but there's also better things in that embrace. "I'm really okay," she says when she leans back. "This happened once before, but I was amped. Really amped. I didn't think I would get there without it." People exploded that time. Not this time. Which is an improvement.

"Did you see what you did?" she asks, glancing to the portal for a moment before she looks back to him again. "I've never seen you open them that fast before." But, too, she can't help but get a crooked smile on her face before she adds, "I think I'm flattered."

Amped up? Mateo isn’t going to ask about that, cause from a look at her face he can tell it probably hadn’t been too pleasant a situation— except the turning into lighting part. That couldn’t have been completely terrible, or she wouldn’t have tried it again. Or perhaps it had been, she just wanted to do it under a better circumstance. When she turns the conversation around on him, he glances toward the portal, which is stable, to the point that the electricity he’d used had actually been fairly limited. The rings around it weren’t very wide, didn’t crackle sharply.

That dull voice in his head also seemed small. He shakes his head as if to dismiss her attempt to praise him. Or like it wasn’t a big deal. Or maybe he’s just not good at handling praise even from her.

What he does say is a sudden, “I think I dropped the donuts.” From his grin, it’s a joke. “But you were amazing.” She was.

Lynette looks at him, watching his face as he looks at the portal, her head tilted. When he shakes his head, she doesn't press it, but she smiles at him in a way that might imply there's more praise in her head, being left unspoken.

Instead, there's a peal of laughter at his confession. "Well. That's unforgivable," she says, mirroring his grin. "Those are the most delicious donuts on the planet." Lynette's assessment of the local food options is always filled with hyperbole. Maybe because in the wake of getting clean, things taste different. Better. It's her turn to shake her head at the praise, though, and she shifts to get back to her feet, her hands moving to tug him along with her. "Talk to me again when I can do it without working myself into a frenzy first." Of course, by then, she'll have moved the goal posts.

“I’ll buy another dozen for us later,” Mateo responds with a smile, allowing her to tug him along as they both stand. “Though I guess we could check on them. They might have stayed within the box.” In which case, at least they wouldn’t have any sand on them, just have been jostled around. As long as no seagulls got ahold of them. He eyes the direction he had been, where he sees the second of the two portals. It’s a decent distance, really. He looks toward the other portal and looks at it with squinted eyes, then nods.

Decision made.

“Come on, let’s take the shortcut,” he adds, before pulling her toward the portal, though he steps aside to let her go through first. It should hold together for him as well if she can keep from pulling the gathered static with her.

“I feel like we might be lucky enough,” Lynette says with a gentle smile. Because she certainly feels lucky lately. “Doesn’t mean I would say no to more later, though.” She adds that with an innocent smile. More donuts is always trouble.

When he pulls her toward the portal, she glances back to the first one, too. The distance is impressive, especially considering how quickly he formed them. She can’t help but feel a little pride over it, for how far he’s come. When she looks back to him, she leans over to kiss his cheek, excitement threaded through the gesture. She only lets him go when she actually has to to pass through. She even makes sure not to mess with the power keeping it open, since she would very much like him to be able to follow her. And since they didn’t close right when he jumped through the first time, she’s interested to see if his umbrales will take another two bodies passing through.

On the other side she finds the poor abandoned donuts box, tumbled slightly onto its side, but otherwise intact. There is a half chewed one that is not so fortunate. It will be seagull food at some point, no doubt. Or fish, if the seagulls don’t find it before high tide. But Mateo doesn’t get the quick trip. After she’s on the other side, she feels it, feels the portal start to falter. It flickers and flashes ever so briefly, and he reaches out as if to try to stop it— and the portal closes on fingers that briefly went through.

Fingers that get pushed back to the other side by the lightning, making him curse slightly and wave his hand. But his fingers are intact.

If a little burned. He doesn’t try to do the same feat twice and instead makes his way up the beach, shaking his hand slightly as if that would get the minor burning off. But at least his portal didn’t take his fingers off entirely, so there’s that.

Lynette turns at that feeling, watching them close behind her with a frown. And she looks up the beach to see him wave his hand. She picks up the box, dusting the sand off it as she starts back up toward him. Her pace is quick, because from her distance, it isn't clear that his fingers are intact. It is clear he's in pain, and that's enough to give her a thread of panic. And the idea that he might never be able to play music the same again scratches at the back of her mind.

So the shortcut is a little bit wasted, as she comes up alongside him to take his arm and lift it so she can look at his fingers. It isn't as bad as she thought, but it isn't good, either. "Let's go back inside. We'll take care of those burns." Her hand tightens on his arm, a reassuring squeeze. "Are you in a lot of pain?" The worry crinkles her brow; fretting over him comes quite easily to her.

At close examination, they’re electrical burns, no less. Not quite the same as being hit by lightning, or messing with an exposed wire, but enough to leave little burnt arcs along the skin of his right hand, almost exclusively restricted to the fingers. Mateo shakes his head when she fusses over him, “So much for the short cut,” he has to comment, even as he flexes his fingers. “It’s not bad. I’ve seen worse before.”

Training to be an electrician, and all, he probably has. They all prepare for the possibility of electrocution. How to prevent it, what happens if you don’t, what to do if it does happen… The source of his burn faded immediately, and didn’t have much power behind it. Which means those burns didn’t really do more than singe his skin.

“At least we know what happens if it closes on something.” Though he kinda wishes he would have tested it on a stick or something, instead, from the way he’s grinning. He just hopes it calms her poor upset a little.

Of course, Lynette is familiar with electrical burns for a whole other reason, and the ones she causes sees are not… typically minor. So there is some relief to see that it isn't that bad. "It was a shortcut to the donuts," she says, lighthearted, as she gives the box a little shake. "But I'd never call a walk along the beach with you a bad thing," she says, stepping in a little closer to him.

"Yeah, I'm glad it didn't just take your hand right off," she says, a statement where her upset still lingers, although she is trying to shake it. "We might need to get a little safer about our experimentation," she notes, since panic has been the order of the day. He's grinning, and it helps her, but she can't really leave all the panic behind. Probably not until he's been tended to. First aid as a calming ritual.

“That wasn't exactly an experiment.” At least not on Mateo’s part. He’d been trying to stop it from closing, not see what happened when his fingers got stuck in it as it closed. That would have been something he would not have tried to do with a piece of his body— especially fingers that he needs to play piano and guitar.

But he rather likes all of his parts. “But you’re right, we should be a little safer.” If he stresses the we, she will know he means her too, at least. He panicked seeing her practice, she panicked seeing him… fail to do what he intended to do at all. And burn his fingers in the process. She at least managed to do what she set out to do.

“But— it looks like the donuts survived.”

"Alright, I'll give you that." But they still learned something. Lynette can admit, if in a roundabout sort of way, that she was the only one actually experimenting. But seeing as she also likes all his parts, she doesn't retract her statement. She looks up at him at his emphasis, her smile turning a little sheepish. "I was perfectly safe," she says, although her tone is a little too innocent. She wasn't, not really. Safe enough, but there are a lot of things she didn't bother to account for. That could have gone wrong.

"They did, for the most part," she says with a nod to the donuts. "So. Breakfast?" she asks with a warmer smile. She takes hold of his good hand, sliding her fingers between his.

"I wonder what would happen if I was falling. I bet I could bolt myself down to the ground." Which is a wondering that might not imply that she's turned her mind toward safety just yet.

“Let’s not find out, okay? Last thing we need is you trapped in the sand, or something…” Says the guy who probably almost took his fingers off. Mateo squeezes those fingers around her hand and focuses on the donuts. “Let’s eat. I imagine you need some sugar to get energy back after what you just did.”

There’s another thing rolling around in his mind under all the noise. What would happen if he tried to open a portal while she was like that?

That’s one experiment he never intends to find out the answer to.

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