Worrying Trends

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lynette3_icon.gif mateo_icon.gif

Scene Title Worrying Trends
Synopsis Lynette tells Mateo what happened during her confrontation with Eileen.
Date June 9, 2018

Benchmark: The Ruiz Suite

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 could have been a better day. Or was it yesterday? Lynette would be more sure of it if she wasn't plastered. It was only hours ago when Mateo stopped her from falling right off the wagon. But here she is, stumbling in the front door. Night has well and truly fallen, so she tries to be quiet, but only succeeds in shushing her keys when they hit the floor. She leaves them there and shuts the door behind her. And locks it. And double checks the locks.

She doesn't remember alcohol hitting her this hard last time she drank it, and she is far more gone than she intended to be. But then, she intended to be sober. The night went… crooked.

Peeling off her jacket, she leaves it in a heap behind her as she walks to the couch. Shoes are next, then blouse, leaving her in an undershirt and a very nice pair of pants that are stained with red. Dark red now. When her calf touches cushions, she drops onto the couch face first.

Which is a mistake, because there's a bruise already forming there.

So she turns over, carefully avoiding falling off the couch, and throws her arm over her eyes. But the memory of black tendrils and statues of ash makes her open her eyes to stare at the ceiling instead.

It felt like just earlier today they were talking about a bottle and how he would always be there for her no matter what. Mateo had disposed of the offending bottle in a rather permanent way and he certainly didn't expect to be staying up all night worried when she didn't come home as she usually does. No one in the Benchmark seemed to know where she'd gone, or what she'd done. Just that she had left and hadn't come back. He told Silvia not to worry, to go to bed as usual, and then he paced around the apartments for a few hours. Sat on that very couch for a while more.

He's doing neither when she wanders in, drops her keys and falls heavily onto the couch. Smelling of— well— he knows that smell. He hasn't smelled it since his bachelor party with Nicole, mostly because he had been living in a rehab center and nights out at the bar hadn't been a thing for him too often. So he smelled that from the distance, pretty much as soon as he sat up from where he'd been leaning back in her desk chair as if he might just sleep there until she showed up.

Her phone might also have had a few messages. Not the creepy obsessive amount, just the 'Call me when you get this' kind.

She hadn't called, and he had no idea what time it was anymore. And it didn't matter. He got out of the chair, crossed the room, and sat down on a place of the couch she was not sitting in. "Rough night?"

Well, obviously.

Lynette hadn’t checked her phone, too used to not having service very often. And then too spooked. And then too drunk.

“No, it was peachy,” she replies, sarcasm coming reflexively, before she even looks over at him. “Sorry,” she adds a beat later, when she hears her own statement. She moves to sit up, but ends up too dizzy and drops back down.

“I found Eileen. Munin. It got— I got out of hand.” The words are quiet, like she isn’t sure she really wants to get into this. But she has to. Because she worried him and he deserves to know why. It might explain the bruise forming up her cheek and around her eye. And the cut through her lip. “She’s not Eileen. If she ever was, she’s not now.”

A hand grips the back of the couch and she pulls herself up more successfully this time. “I need to call Dad. Silvia needs to stay with him for a while. I need to see Vincent, if he’s still taking my calls. There’s a list, I’m working on it.” Building it, that is. She hasn’t gotten to actually checking anything off said list.

Except two things. Run away. Come home.

Run away had been his instinct when he's ran into Munin. While he doesn't understand a lot of what else his wife has to say about her encounter, he understands the need to get away. Mateo's dark eyes look over her, noticing the bruising, but also that she's not bleeding profusely anywhere so she already came out of the conflict better than he had.

Why would Eileen— or not Eileen— hurt Lynette? She had not been Vanguard. She did not have a past connection with Vanguard. It didn't make sense, but— she said she found her. So this was because of him. In a round-about way.

"Let's get you cleaned up. You can call Vincent or whoever you need to call after we get you taken care of." And by that he mostly mean washed up, sober and any wounds besides the one on her face taken care of. But mostly washed up. He reaches to take her arms, willing to carry most her weight if he had to.

"No. Mateo, listen." Lynette's hands hold onto his arms, trying to stop him. But is isn't hard for him to move her, really, there's not a whole lot of fight in her at the moment. Not physically, anyway. "I don't need to be cleaned up. I'm fine." She does her very best to sound serious, to sound sober. The effect is middling. And she is not okay.

"She has his power."

That part comes out a bit steadier. But Lynette becomes less so. He can feel her hands trembling just before she pulls away from him to slide them through her hair. She looks a lot more together than she is without that tell. Of course, it's a bit late for the illusion. "I watched her turn people to ash. Sucked the life right out of them like some sort of damn vampire," she says darkly before she moves away, over to her desk. Her hands move papers, shuffling them from there to here as if suddenly taken with the urge to get them all in order. Except for the fact that she is taking them out of order. "She's not Eileen. She looks like Eileen and sounds like Eileen, but that's not her. The woman I knew was cold as the bottom of the damn ocean, as a fucking glacier or whatever, but she put all that ruthlessness into the fight. The good fight. And she would have fought back harder, too. I would have walked away short a finger or something. But she doesn't need to fight back now."

"You're not fine," Mateo responds, but he stops trying to pull on her. Even if he wants to take her to the shower, help her out of her clothes, and get her under the water. That's the only thing he can think of to help her, but coffee would probably work just as well. But there's a bigger topic that suddenly gets thrown at him and his hands drop entirely.

His power. Turned people to ash. Sucked the life right out of them.

"That might explain how she managed to survive the island," he offers quietly, wondering if maybe she'd had that the whole time. Maybe it had been dormant until them. Maybe it had saved her life and changed her into something else.

He recognizes what she means, though. He's seen it before. Kazimir's ability scared him almost as much as his own. The man scared him. But that man was supposed to be gone. It explained things. How she knew who he'd been, what he was capable of. Why she might have wanted him dead. And now his past had come back to haunt him in the worst possible way. He didn't think their security precautions would be able to keep her out if she really wanted in. He couldn't help but look toward the door leading into their daughter's room.

Lynette can't speak with any certainty as to how long Eileen has had that ability. She was a woman of many secrets and even the Ferrymen would have had to think twice about letting it in among them. Leading them. And since she can't be certain, she says nothing. When her hands run out of papers to straighten, her palms press against the desk and she leans over, sagging a little.

"If she really wanted us dead, we'd be dead," she notes, "I think what she wants is us out of the way. And I don't think she really wanted anyone to find out. She was pretty pissed off about it." Lynette starts to turn back toward him, but loses her footing some and ends up in her chair. She crosses one leg over the other as if to pretend that she meant to sit all along. "But still. Silvia needs to be far from here. She won't like it."

Lynette— in her worst depths of addiction— was often angry and destructive. But in the absence of that, she sinks into something else. Darker, heavier. "It was stupid of me to assume that the worst there would be to deal with after the war would be food shortages and bigots."

"I think she wanted me dead," Mateo states quietly, rubbing the wound that still occasionally hurts on his chest. No second chances. Did she also mean for herself? There were no second chances. People couldn't change. Or that is how he took what she said as his blood thumped in his ears and his chest burned with pain.

But he has to admit, she's probably right, even as he bites down on his lower lip. He doesn't want to be separated from her for that long. "Maybe your friend, Huruma, the one in Wolfhound… maybe she can take her to Rochester when you explain to Hana what's going on?" Maybe she'd be safer up there, and it wouldn't be as far away as Mexico. They could still go see her at least once a week easily enough.

"Though she would probably be safer with her grandpa." And he knew that the man would spoil her. Probably give her a horse if he thought it would make her smile.

"I think she might have been telling you that you weren't welcome back in the fold. But you're right. Maybe we're just slippery." All three of them are pretty slippery, really. But Lynette doesn't seem to think that's enough to save them, in the long run. "If she's not going to Dad, then I'd rather she stay here. Maybe I'll ask some contacts for some extra help keeping this place safe. Keeping her safe."

Really, this whole conversation is distressingly sobering. Her fingers twitch, but there's no alcohol here to fix that particular issue. No cigarettes to calm her nerves.

She pushes up out of the chair, crossing to the windows and pushing open the curtains. An agitated movement. "Hana isn't particularly thrilled with me at the moment. Maybe I'll just shout the news at the nearest computer. I'm sure she'll hear it." That's sarcasm. Bitter. Her expression matches it, just visible as a reflection in the window. As much as she might try to direct that bitterness outward, in the glass it's clear that she is only looking at herself.

"I almost killed her. If she'd still been Eileen, I would have."

"We do have a computer you can shout at," Mateo responds with a soft smile, looking over at his wife, still looking as if she might need some coffee or that shower, whether she thinks she does or not. He follows her to the window, a few steps behind, moving until his chest presses against her back and he's wrapping his arms around his waist. She smells different than normal, but— she smells like someone who'd been drinking. It made him hold her tighter.

That and her words of bitterness stated at her reflection in the glass window. He knows what that is like. That sheen of self-hatred and shame and anger and bitterness. Not that she feels it the same way he does, but— she's killed. She can kill. She could kill again. And she would have.

He wouldn't have. He hadn't even considered turning his ability on Eileen when she attacked him. But she also hadn't attacked the person he loved and was married to. Maybe she would not have been so lucky if she had.

"We'll figure something out. Together, right?"

Lynette leans back against him, eyes closing and hands moving to rest on his arms. It's only there that she lets out a sigh and lets her muscles loosen. Just in his arms, a place where the world could be falling apart around them, but she'd still feel safe. Home had been an elusive concept for her for most of her life, until she found it in him.

"Together," she repeats, agreeing with a nod of her head.

When her eyes open, they search for his in the window, still working on shedding that bitterness. "I think I could use that coffee." And probably some cleaning up. But even so, she doesn't seem to want to let him go just yet. "When you go out, you should take a Banshee with you. I will, too. I don't know that it'll help, but it'll make me feel better." Because they can't lock themselves away in a fortress forever. And maybe an alternative to bullets would be safer to carry around.

"I somehow doubt that is what Luther intended us to do with them when he gave them. I'm not exactly certified," Mateo responds with a small grin as he pulls her toward the kitchen where they can get the coffee brewing. He somehow doubted she wanted instant in this case.

"But considering the circumstances he might understand." Him and his boss, hopefully. And whoever happens to catch him with a weapon he probably shouldn't be carrying around at all.

But he wouldn't argue with her about it. At least she's considering letting him out again. Armed or otherwise.

"He'll understand," Lynette says. Luther and her have been through enough for her to know that. "He won't be happy," she concedes dryly, "but he'll understand." She takes his hand as he leads her to the kitchen, lingering drunkenness making her steps unsteady. And the walk makes her expression dim.

"I just never want to live that moment again," she says, "Seeing you get shot, bleeding out on the floor. It's been twice now, you know. It's a worrying trend." An attempt to be flippant. It's difficult to pull off with alcohol in her system and his hand in hers and being as rattled as she has been today.

Humor to disarm bad thoughts had always been Mateo's go to, so he recognizes it when she uses it to joke about the worrying trend of him bleeding out on the floor. From gunshot wounds. "Maybe I should invest in bullet proof vests," he continues the joke with a grin, leaning over to press his lips against hers.

In a way the kiss was to show her he found this topic very serious and he would be careful, but also to recognize that they both had certain ways of coping with trauma. And joking was one of them.

He certainly doesn't want to live that moment again either, what he could remember of it. And he did not want her to, either. Ever again.

"Maybe you should. You'd look good in them," Lynette says, because he looks good in anything. She returns the kiss, finding comfort there that she did not find in the alcohol. And, of course, she should have come right to him in the first place, but that realization hits hours too late. So when she melts into his arms, it's fueled by the need to feel alive and the recent close call. Joking is one way to deal with trauma. It isn't the only way.

Coffee will have to wait because Lynette has just enough of her right mind to take hold of his shirt and start leading him back toward the bedroom. The cut on her lip seems to matter less at the moment, too, her attention taken up by something else entirely. Tomorrow she might regret a lot of her choices tonight.

But not this one.


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