A Metaphorical Labyrinth


lynette3_icon.gif mateo_icon.gif

Scene Title A Metaphorical Labyrinth
Synopsis Lynette and Mateo play a round of Getting To Know You after getting to know one another.
Date November 11, 2016

The Benchmark Center: Mexico

Lynette's Room

The sun's up. Been up for a while now.

And at least one person in this bed is wide awake, staring up at the dark ceiling. Mateo has never been one for sleeping in, even on the few nights he's able to get a decent night sleep— and last night had been one of the best he'd had in a while. The emptiness eating away at the back of his mind had quieted. As he lays looking up at the ceiling, one arm under the blonde woman at his side, the darkness tries to creep back. Only the warmth against his body holds it at bay.

But years of waking up at dawn and moving on meant, unfortunately, that he would not get back to sleep anytime soon.

And he remembered her words about not being a morning person, so he doesn't move. Much. He can't help that his thumb gently strokes her arm where it rests, nor the shift of his chest as he breathes, the rhythmic thump of his heart in his chest.

Lynette did not kick him out of bed before morning, which really goes to show how much she's grown as a person. Instead, she's pressed against his side, her hand resting on his chest and her hair a bit wild. His heart, his breathing, it doesn't seem enough to wake her.

And in the light of the morning, it's easy to see the marks of how this woman lives. In a far corner, there's an old record player and a modest collection of records. It's possible she's one of those people who believes that music sounds better on vinyl. On her bedside table, a copy of Cien Años de Soledad. Her place is held with a pencil and the book sits on top of a notebook filled with scribbles. Half in Spanish, half in English. The bed itself is comfortable, but no different than the one in his room. And probably every other room here. There is one comfort she has that the other rooms do not. A private bathroom.

One thing that's hard to miss, especially sleeping right next to her, Lynette has nightmares. It turns her sleep into the tossing and turning variety, which might not have been helpful in him getting a good night's rest. And for all that she seems peaceful there, it isn't too much longer before her eyes snap open and she pushes herself up off the bed — off him — to turn an alarmed and confused gaze around the room.

While music sounds better with vinyl than most other recordings— Mateo would disagree. Music is best live. His dark eyes have settled on the records when she suddenly jumps awake, pushing off against his chest and entirely going off the bed. "It's okay. It's just me."

He spreads his arms, as if, well, that will settle her down. He actually had not been bothered much by her nightmares through the night, he'd been sound asleep for the most part, emotionally and physically exhausted. From years of always being on edge.

With the quieting nothingness, he finally managed to rest. For a time.

With his hands are up, that tattoo on his wrist is even more visible. The only tattoo he actually has.

He speaks and Lynette's attention flicks over to him. Her hand reaches up to rub her face before she shakes her hands out a little. "Sorry," she says with a groggy sigh, "I thought I heard something." She steps back over to bed, to drop back down, her arm going over her eyes like she might go right back to sleep. But, instead, she shifts it enough to peer over at him. "Good morning," she notes, an afterthought. Something people are meant to say to one another.

Rolling onto her side, she props her head up on an arm to look over at him. Her eyes move along to settle on his tattoo. She doesn't have any of her own, just scars that prove that the stories are truer than not. She reaches over to brush her thumb over his, though, then turns her gaze back to his face. His eyes are up here. "Would you find it obnoxious if I asked about your tattoo?" She's quick to find a topic to jump to, hopeful that her breach of decorum can pass by without comment perhaps, and he's conveniently got an ice breaker built in.

While he could assure her that she hadn't heard anything, Ruiz just lets his hands drop as she moves back onto the bed. He already gathered that her scars are more than just on her skin, so even if there had been no sound, it doesn't mean she didn't hear something he did not. "Buenos días," he settles with, a grin on his lips as he watches her. When she starts rubbing his tattoo, he looks down at it.

The circular tattoo is a maze, twisting and turning in on itself, until it comes to the center, with the partially eclipsed sun. "I got it a few years ago. Inspired by a book. One my mother had." A book about a maze. His mother would read it to him before he was old enough to understand it. At the mention of his mother, his voice does soften to a whisper, but he doesn't stop himself from saying it.

For a moment, that emptiness gnaws at him, but he focuses on the feeling of her fingers against his skin, ignoring it.

The greeting gets a crooked smile and Lynette seems to relax, muscle loosening that she probably didn't realize were tense. "Labyrinths are dangerous, you know. Trap doors. Looping hallways. Minotaurs." The last comes with a widening of her smile, although it's still a sleepy expression.

Her hand trails up his arm as he talks, a gentle touch. Indulgent, perhaps. But she listens, too, her eyebrow lifted curiously when his voice turns to a whisper. There's a question there, but as he was kind enough to not pick at her scars, she shifts the question before she speaks. "What book? Must have been pretty good. Unless this is going to wash off later."

"This was a metaphorical labryinth," Mateo responds with a grin, looking down at the tattoo. "Ficciones, by Borges," is his answer to her question. "My mother— she really liked science fiction stories, but she especially liked Borges. Since he was from Argentina." Like them. Like her. There might have been more to it than that, but it's a good enough explaination.

"Her love for the books he wrote inspired me to study literature when I went to university. Not very practical for a career path, since I didn't want to teach, so it was just a minor." After a moment, glancing toward the book on her bedside table. "I can let you borrow my copy once you're finished with that."

"Even more dangerous, then, yeah?" Lynette returns his grin and her arm drops lazily around him. "The Library of Babel," she notes, "I've read that one. I'd love to borrow it, though, I've never been through the whole collection. I'm — working my way through that." She nods toward the book-in-progess. "I'm trying not to cheat. So it's literature and practice." She chuckles there, a little self consciously. She knows her Spanish needs some work, after all.

It seems it is a good enough explanation; Lynette doesn't press for more, at least not about his mother. The past tense answers a lot of questions, anyway. "I didn't make it through university," she says, amusement coloring her words, "and you've got a major and a minor?" She tsks quietly before she looks back over to him. "I suppose it isn't practical, but it's good you didn't give it up entirely. What was it? Your major."

With the mention of that short story, Ruiz quotes, "Mi soledad se alegra con esa elegante esperanza." The last line of that one particular short store. In Spanish. He doesn't have all of them memorized, but— close enough.

"You're going to laugh at the irony…" he responds, already finding what his answer is hilarious. "I was an electrician." Who, thanks to his ability, blacked out at least one town. "I couldn't exactly continue my career when I manifested, but I think that would have been true." Even if he didn't work on the electric grid and wiring of houses. He would have left society either way. But he definitely would not risk being around as much electricity as his job would have called for.

At the quote, Lynette's smile grows more warm, even though her words are teasing. "It sounds much better in Spanish," she says with a chuckle. Because, of course, she read it in English at the time.

Lynette looks inches from promising she would never laugh when he answers her, and she has to scrunch up her face to keep it from happening as it is. She can't hide the amusement in her eyes, though. Because it is hilarious. "Well," she says, clearing her throat lightly, "Perhaps we can add that to the list of milestones. Making sure you don't waste your degree." That is a genuine thought, even if it's tainted a bit by an amused smile. "There's a joke there about you working on electricity right now, but I think I'm going to leave it."

Once, Ruiz hadn't found it quite as hilarious as he did now. The fact that, when he first manifested, he not only blacked out an entire city, but also destroyed his childhood home and made it so he could not even bury his mother. It had been a difficult time for him. That part, obviously, never would be humorous. But the fact he could not even use his degree left him amused. "I did help some of the safehouses rewire, so I could still use the basics… but it would be nice not to waste all that money that got me through university."

It certainly was a goal to try for.

"And that— is the other reason I thought you would laugh," he adds on, obviously speaking of the held in joke. "Mi relámpago."

"Well, we've got plenty to work with here," Lynette says with a sweeping gesture, "if you want to poke around at our set up. I have no idea how any of that works, so I supervise." Which probably means showing up unannounced to make sure people are actually working. Or to keep them thinking she might pop up anytime. They don't get the look she's giving him now, of course, so maybe it seems less threatening at the moment. "Wouldn't hurt to get familiar with it."

When he gets the joke out, Lynette groans, covering her face with her hand. Overdramatically. Her hand can't hide a smile, not completely. "I was trying not to laugh," she says, although it seems a lost cause now, since she has to get her words out through a laugh.

The nickname hadn't been a joke, but at the reaction, Mateo's starting to think it actually was. Or maybe the punchline. The glint of humor in his eyes hides the affectionate way he'd said it. "You have a nice laugh," he decides to mention, still grinning as he runs his hand down her arm, practically hugging her against his bare chest. "You shouldn't hide it. I don't mind you laughing at me."

At, because of, either way. He might just strive for it now.

On a more serious note, he adds, "I'll take a look at it. Maybe we can actually figure out how much electricity it actually drains, too." By looking at the meter, they could actually track how much electricity he uses—

Lynette doesn't seem to mind being held close, as her hand shifts to rest flat against his chest. There might be a glance down to it, too, which is difficult to hide in this exact moment, but his words get her to look back up again. She doesn't really seem to know what to do with the compliment, so she skips it entirely. "I would never laugh at you," she says, her smile turning crooked. It is true, though, that she hasn't had much cause to laugh in a while.

It's also true that she has some difficulties with parts of human interaction. At least she's not accusing him of messing with her this time, though.

"Oh, that's a good idea," Lynette says, her eyebrows lifting. "We could figure out a range, see how much you need for what. That would really help." In training, of course. But also, maybe just in life. It's hard to say which she's thinking of at the moment.

"You haven't heard some of what comes out of my mouth yet," Mateo responds to her defense. He's sure that, one day, she would laugh at him. And he wouldn't care, cause she's laughing. Assuming she stays in his life that long— how can he already be thinking of eventuallies? His hand moves up to toy with her hair, trying to distract himself from both sides of thought. That she'll stay. Or that she won't.

"It would help me control it better. And that's the goal of your lessons." Control. Careful, systematic, control. So that he doesn't hurt anyone again—

Unless he means to.

"Alright, I'll grant you that," Lynette says with a smirk, "I'll hold off on speaking in certainties until further observation." That's a little dry, that. Teasing. When he touches her hair, her eyes close and she slides in to tuck herself under his chin, against his neck, clicking into place like a puzzle piece. "That is the goal, yes." Control. Defense. Offense. Mostly in that order. "An obtainable one, I promise."

She leans her head back, just enough to look back up at him. "If you're dedicated to it. And patient," she adds with a gentle smile. "I can be, if you can be."

"You'll hopefully come to find that I am extremely patient," Ruiz teases, even as she plays with her hair. He has had to wait for things far more than he would care to admit, but he can be patient with this ability of his. He doesn't expect to get the hang of it over right, even if now he has someone to practice with.

Someone who makes the emptiness quiet, just a little bit. He can still feel it, hear it, like some pressure in the corner of his mind, but it's almost a whisper at the moment. A soft brush of wind.

Rather than a roaring torrent.

"Well, that's good," Lynette says, a murmur against his skin as she presses a few kisses along his jawline. "I don't like to push too hard, especially at first. But if you start getting antsy, you can let me know." Her words have a feel to them, like she might be talking about two things at once again. Things she wants to say, but can't quite come at head on. Kisses meant to be distracting, conversation meant to be taken at face value. She settles against a pillow, but not to go back to sleep. Rather, to have a hand free to slide against his cheek while her other is busy being wrapped around him. "Tell me about your metaphorical labyrinth," she says, her voice gentler, "in the story. Is there a way out? Are you even supposed to be looking for one?"

While he nods with the talk about his training, Ruiz actually grins when she changes the subject, even if, well, the memory of his mother reading the stories to him might cause some darker thoughts. Instead, he focuses on the good memories. Those memories from before. "It's a metaphor about time. How… every action that has ever existed creates a new path in an ever expanding, infinite garden. That every possibility that could ever occur are all real, existsing side by side, never touching."

He'd said the stories were full of fantasy, and the Library of Babel had similar themes, with all books that ever existed, both complete and incomplete, every draft imagined, most gibberish and completely incomprehensable, all existed. Within a single library.

"In some of these possibilities, I don't exist. In some you don't. In one we might meet as enemies, in another as friends— that sort of thing."

"Multiverse theory," Lynette says, in a much less poetic way. "I have to say I like a garden more than picturing time as a newspaper, with every page a possibility," she says, looking over at him with a crooked smile. "Much prettier."

But there is something else in that gaze, too. She knows that they do sometimes touch. Kids from the future, traveling to create a new one. And, of course, a man in a cell who knew her before she met him. Memories of the other Ruiz, the captive, leave her smile a little dim. "Well, I'm glad to be in this one, then," she notes, of all the options, "where we both exist and got to meet and seem to like one another well enough."

Well enough indeed.

"His stories make me wonder if Borges knew more than we thought. I mean, what are our lives but science fiction?"

"I always liked the idea that there's infinite worlds, with infinite possibilies," Mateo responds, looking down at the maze on his arm as he holds it up so they can both see it. The maze on his arm is, obviously, not infinite. There is a way to solve it. But the path only leads into an eclipsing sun.

"But for once this might be a better world than most." Because in this world, they have met. He grins, leaning his head down so he can kiss her hair for a moment.

Yes, for the moment, this might be the best possible reality.

"I have no idea if he knew more than anyone thought. But I know that… these abilities of ours… existed before most the world knew about it." He may not know how long, but he knew they had. "Maybe he had an ability without even realizing it."

"Really? I always found a certain amount of comfort in inevitability," Lynette says, perhaps explaining the choice of book sitting on her side table, "even though I know there's really no such thing." Of course, a lot of people take comfort in ideas they know aren't true. "It's one of the things I'm trying to look at from another perspective," she adds with a chuckle. That's probably advice from the other side of the campus.

Her eyes close at the kiss, and her arm tightens around him. There's even a sigh, although she's likely to deny it, sounding contented and warm. Happy, perhaps. "Maybe he did. Maybe he could see the infinite garden, the library with every book that could ever be. He did seem a little… fixated on the idea, didn't he?" She smirks there, speculating on a topic they'll never find the answer to.

"Technically, if all possibilies are true, then inevitability in some paths of the garden would also be true." That each path could have something designed and intended for it. Or that some would and others wouldn't. Mateo toys with her hair as he adds, "He did seem obsessed with it. There's also the Aleph. A single point in space that contains the entire universe, where you'd see everything, all at once, if you looked upon it. I wonder if he saw it and that's what caused him to go blind late in life."

'Cause, he knows the author's history. He'd died no longer able to read, no longer able to see.

"But more likely he just— had an idea that seems too big for a normal person." Maybe he was, maybe he wasn't. And maybe in some paths, he was. And some paths he wasn't.

Lynette's smile widens as he speaks — or maybe for the continued presence of his fingers in her hair — and there's a playful narrowing of the eyes as he follows that winding path to its conclusion. As far as pillowtalk goes, it's certainly the most interesting she's had. "The real trouble comes when you try to figure out which rules are true in your reality and which aren't." She's quiet when he goes on, her smile fixed, amused but interested. "Sounds like enough to drive someone mad. I will be forever grateful not to have been born precognitive." She knows one of those. She's less than stable.

"Sometimes I think these abilities drive us all a little mad," Mateo responds to that comment, not wanting to think of how it might have been to be a precog. Or a telepath. Or anything in between. He knows that gnawing nothingness in the back of his head drives him a little mad. And that doesn't even include the war that she personally witnessed and particpated in. Even without abilities, wars can drive normal people a little mad.

As if to show he's thinking on that, his hand comes down to trace one of her scars. "I guess that's why people need places like this, though."

"That's probably true," Lynette says, since she can't make any claim otherwise in her own experience. Her fingers twitch gently. This is the type of moment where she would grab a cigarette or a drink (or other things), for distraction. For escape. The urge lingers, even if she's given up her worst habits. Or rather, even if she's trying to give up her worst habits. She can't claim success there, either.

When he touches her scar, she glances away, toward the space beyond him. It's likely she remembers how she got it. It's likely she remembers how she got all of them. But she doesn't stop him, and it isn't like she tried to hide them from him, either. "We used to see the most horrible things done to people. We had a collection of people with a horrible shared experience in how the world treated them. You saw it, too." That's not a question. In the network, it was hard to avoid. "I wish someone had been equipped to help us back then."

"I did see it. Silvia— she was only 12 when she manifested and her parents threw her out. Wanted nothing to do with her," Ruiz remembered that well, that any parent could do that to their daughter was beyond him. He'd been one of the Coyotes that got her safely to a safe location, with the help of one who was much more experienced than even him. Carlos had been a good man. And with what happened to the Commune… "And that doesn't even mention what had been going on down in Argentina." He saw things there. Things that made him decide to do what little he could, even when he could only help occassionally.

"Maybe it'll be better. With places like this." His fingers continue to toy with her scar. There are scars not visible on the skin. He knows that. "And people like you."

"She doesn't like to talk about it," Lynette notes, about Silvia, "I hope she finds something like family here." There's enough people around for it. People with stories like hers. It's a terrible thing to have to bond over. She frowns at the mention of Argentina, but it comes with a nod of understanding. "Things will get better," she says, as if to reassure him about the state of his own country, too, "they have to." If she has to strongarm them, is the implication.

At his last words, her eyes turn back to him, her frown deepening. "You shouldn't say things like that," she says, her voice a whisper, like she hasn't completely decided to actually say it. "I'm not — doing anything anyone else wouldn't do if they had the resources and the knowledge."

"I think you mean anyone could with the resources and the knowledge, but no— not anyone else would." Mateo says, reaching to find her hand so that he can pull it up to his mouth and kiss it. No. Not anyone else would do something like this. He knows, because he's met people other people who would never do anything like this, even if they could. Before and after abilities came out. He doesn't think even he would have done this. Something else, possibly, but not this.

And whether or not he should say things like that, he does anyway. Because he understands what it's like to feel like to doubt in yourself.

That's pretty much his natural state.

Lynette closes her eyes, squeezing them for a moment. She shakes her head, but even with the protest, her fingers curl around his hand. The kiss makes her look over at him again and for a long moment, she looks undecided. To argue or to bolt, one of the two is what would normally go in the space of that pause.

Instead, though, she takes a bit of a compromise with herself.

"Do you want to go to breakfast? There's a diner not too far away, it's got the best chilaquiles in the world. My treat." It is not a smooth segue, her jump in topics, but there's a look in her eye like she might beg him to stop in a minute.

For a moment, Mateo realizes he probably went to far, but at the same time— he knows he meant every word of it. He'd seen safehouses before, and respected, without a doubt, those who ran and opened them. This wasn't quite one, but in a way it was better. It helped people cope with the world in a way those 'safe' places could not. And unlike most those places, she had professionals. Those who knew what they were doing. Most everyone at the commune had been well meaning, but didn't always know how to actually help.

At her offer, her segue to save them both from— well— a more awkward situation, he nods, "I'll have to see now that you've spoken so well of them. I've had a lot of chilaquiles to compare it to." It's said as a tease, but at that he shifts, to get out of bed and get dressed.

And when he takes the offer, Lynette lets out a relieved sigh. "You'll have to tell me how they measure up." Her definition of 'the world' in this case may be limited to a distant memory of the Los-Angeles-That-Was before the war, but she'll stand by her claim.

It's probably easy to tell she's a little shaken, though, because she doesn't even watch him get dressed, she just slips out of bed to get dressed herself. By the time she shimmies into a light, blue dress, a more easy smile has come back to her face. "Ready?" she asks, her hands moving to tie her long hair into a sloppy bun. Very sloppy. But since she steps over to put a hand on his shoulder, she must not mind the look terribly.

Whereas his definition of 'the world' includes parts of South America, Central America and lots more of Mexico than she's probably seen. Ruiz finishes buttoning up his shirt, not even bothering to do more than run his hands though his hair to make sure it stays reasonably in control— and then he nods. "Ready to give my expert opinion." 'Cause— well— okay he's not an expert, but perhaps more so than her in this case.

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