Scene Title 607
Synopsis Lynette reunites with a memory.
Date April 6, 2018

The Benchmark: Lynette and Mateo's Room

The bedroom is decorated in warm colors, mostly owing to the fact that much of the furniture and décor around the room was brought up from Mexico and comes with colorful flourishes. But also because it makes the room feel comforting. In one corner, a record player sits on a stand with a collection of records. Jazz, mostly. Almost nothing after the 1940s.

The bed is flanked by two side tables, usually piled with books. Although there is a his and a hers side, it's difficult to tell which is which. There are more pillows on this bed than any pair of humans would ever need.

In the closet a safe is tucked away toward the back. Instead of valuables or money, it holds weapons. It doesn't get opened often, but it is certainly present. Just in case.

Some nights, Lynette can't sleep.

Sometimes this is because it strikes her that time is ever ticking away and if she sleeps, then she will lose several hours with the man sleeping next to her. How the rise and fall of his chest creates a gentle rhythm she tries to commit to memory. How his lips sometimes turn up into a smile. How his hair takes on a life of its own when he's not awake to tame it. On these nights, her fingers trace lines over his skin, gentle enough not to wake him. He needs his rest, but she is more than willing to give hers up for another moment with him.

It has been a long time since she feared him walking out on her. I love you, too healed more of her cracks than she'd like to admit. But something about their life together felt… fragile. Stitched together by gossamer threads, held together by stubborn willpower. He walked into her life by magic. Some part of her worries she'll lose him the same way.

That worry weighs heavier on her tonight than usual.

Where are you right now?

His handwriting was different. Oddly, this was the first thing she noticed, looking at the poetry that another him wrote about another her. Life gave him sharp turns and tight loops and she wondered what had been different enough about his world to change something so… small. His handwriting was different, but his feelings were the same. She read poem after poem, page after page, traveling the length and breadth of his love and his loss. Sitting on the floor, her back against the bed, her own love sleeping just above her, she did her best not to cry. And when she failed, she did her best not to ruin the pages. Or wake Mateo. Her fingers trace his words and her eyes close to better remember his smile when he saw her. The sensation of his hand in hers. How strange it was, having someone you never knew say your name like he'd whispered it to you a hundred times over.

Somewhere beautiful?

This Ruiz was not her Ruiz. And the woman he spoke of in his poems was not her. Lynette wondered who she was. How they were different. Most times, she was comforted by the idea that she was herself, no matter the world, no matter the circumstance. That who she became is inevitable. The thought takes weight off her shoulders. Tonight she welcomes that weight in and hopes that he loved a version of her that deserved him. Perhaps she was gentler. Perhaps she never became a killer. Perhaps she could live under his smile and never feel like she was cheating some darker fate by clinging to him.

Perhaps this her could have been that person, too, if she'd tried.

Are you happy?

Lynette finds the bloodstained page, but avoids it. Instead, she lingers on a poem about life after her. When he saw himself as a lonely, echoing roll of thunder in an endless darkness. For years, she told herself not to entertain the notion that Ruiz had loved her. Even when the memory of his smile pressed into her mind. For years, she folded that idea— that wish— smaller and smaller until she could tuck it away in some corner of her mind and never dwell on it. For years, she tried not to love him, a man who was dead the moment he saw her face.

He wasn't Mateo. He wasn't her Ruiz. But somewhere, deep down, she knew he was. Wherever he was, however many of him or her there were, she was his and he was hers.

It was one thing to wish he loved her, it was another to have the evidence open on her lap. And she hated herself a little more for leaving him behind. If she could live that moment again, as she had in her mind year after year, she would never leave his side. Not for anything. She would save him somehow. She would hold his hand until he was gone. She would let herself have the vulnerability she pressed away at the time. She would tell herself she didn't have to be so afraid.

He deserved that much from her and she hadn't bothered to give it to him.

When I close my eyes, I see you smiling. And I never want to open them again.

When Lynette moves to the bathroom, she brings the book with her. Splashing water on her face helps. Cool water soothes her skin, helps her open her throat back up. Lets her breathe. She moves through the motions of toweling dry— face then hands— as if it were some ritual to cleanse herself of darker thoughts. Something to pull herself up out of the spiral of her own mind. Neither Ruiz would want her to let herself fall into that.

But I do.

Her attention turns back to the book. Her fingers tap against the cover. In the end, she reminds herself that reading his last poem is the literal least she can do for him.

Finding the bloodstain again, she opens the book again and reads. It's only a few words, really, but enough to paint a picture of his pain, his guilt. And his relief. Her lips tremble as she reads it through again. And a third time. Picking up the book, she carries it back out to the bedroom, setting it down to find her own pen and paper. Not to write her own poem— she never had the talent— but a simple message that she wishes she could have told him then. That she hopes will find him, wherever he is now.

Siempre te amará.

Folding up the paper, she scribbles Ruiz on the outside and tucks it into the page that holds 607. A dying man's thoughts. Hopefully, a dying man's comfort.

The world is so much dimmer.

Closing the book, she turns to look at Mateo, sleeping. Peaceful. His chest rises and falls. She can't help but feel like he is some rarity, fallen into her arms by chance or by fate, she's not sure. But tonight is the first time she wonders if the fragility she sometimes feels and fears comes from the others. The thems that have been and are already gone. If they always met, do they always lose one another, as well?

And what are the chances that she can keep those threads attached long enough to avoid their turn at tragedy?

Without your smile.

Crawling into bed, Lynette slides over to Mateo to tuck herself against him. With his heartbeat under her hand, worry eases away. With the warmth of his body next to hers, the world clicks into place around her. She doesn't sleep, but she hardly feels like she needs to, when there are still details of his face to memorize.

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