Better Memories


lynette3_icon.gif mateo_icon.gif

Scene Title Better Memories
Synopsis In light of having seen some of Mateo's memories, Lynette wants to learn about the better one— as well as offer him new ones for the future.
Date April 3, 2018

Benchmark: Ruiz Family 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. Nearby, 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.

Home is often the best place to be after a hard day. And this even was that. Hard. Lynette's been quiet on the way here, letting Mateo process while she held onto him. To anchor him. But inside the apartment, she lets go of him for the first time since they left Kaylee and Des to pull her jacket off. That and her clutch are tossed onto the couch unceremoniously.

"Do you want some coffee?" she asks gently, her words a whisper like she worries about interrupting his thoughts. She turns back to him, her head tilted a little. Whatever she feels about the trip through his false memories (and his real ones), isn't what she's worried about right now. Just him. Even if she doesn't ask directly just yet, she's more comfortable doing so here, where the evidence of their life together can maybe help him feel like there's something solid in his life after all.

While he's sure that Des probably had wanted to talk to him afterward, Mateo had shook his head and said he would talk to her later— And he would. He could see it in her eyes. She knew. He wasn't sure if she had looked at him differently, but he needed time to process. Time to… deal with what he'd learned. It wasn't that he was going to go comatose, or anything, though.

Somehow he knew the maze would still be there, always be there, keeping him from thinking too hard, even if parts of it had been chipped away. Maybe it would always be there. "No… not— I'd ask if you had any tequila, but…" he trails off. It had not quite been a joke.

He runs hands through his hair as he sits down on the couch, looking toward Silvia's room. They gave the teenager a lot of freedom, something he now realized he had not actually had…

"Actually, yeah, coffee. Strong." Since he can't go tequila, he'll just take his coffee extra strong.

The joke, even if it wasn't totally one, gets a more sympathetic look from Lynette and a soft smile. She watches him move to the couch, then comes over to rest her hand on his cheek while she leans in to press a kiss to his forehead. "If I had any, it would be all yours," she says, her own joke just barely there as well. There's a sentiment under the words that has little to do with alcohol.

When he agrees to the coffee, though, she steps away again to go get it started. Nothing fancy this time, just a coffee maker and a lot of grounds. That helps her be able to come back out to him sooner, too. Taking the spot next to him on the couch, she slides a hand onto his leg and looks over at him. "If you want to talk, I'm here."

What they'd learned, about him had been a lot to process. It did make him think about his mother in a completely different way, but that didn't matter as much right them. Mateo had already doubted their life together, even the good times— now he doubted everything. "It's bothersome that I never actually went to university— I mean I have the memories, the education, but— I guess we know why we couldn't find records of my degree or my past work when we'd looked." He'd dismissed it as Argentina falling into total chaos, which it had. But as far as they could easily find he hadn't existed until he started to file for their marriage liscence and citizenship. If she hadn't had her former Ferry resources…

What kind of person does that make him? he had to wonder, even if he couldn't ask her that question. He hadn't really started to live until November 6, 2006. And not too long after that, they both know what he'd done.

What he'd become.

And she saw that now, part of it.

They had used him as a weapon. But so had his own mother, once.

"I can imagine," Lynette says, her fingers moving a lock of his hair away from his face. "You're still you, my darling," she says as her fingers trail down his cheek. It's hard to say if she's commenting on the lack of a degree or all those other things that might be running through his mind. But it works, either way. "I can… appreciate that she wanted to protect you," she adds, even though it sounds a bit… strained. "The Company was no place for a child to grow up."

She has other thoughts about his mother. Less flattering ones. She'll leave those out of this, though.

"I suppose if we had time to dig a little deeper, we might have known something in your memories was off even before we got here." She wasn't worried about the paperwork then, just him and Silvia and getting them all here smoothly.

"I know," Mateo responds quietly, leaning against her kiss on his forehead with a stray lock of curled hair falling out of place onto his forehead as he closes his eyes. He didn't know much about what the Company had done, but he gathered that much. Who know what they would have been having him do once he was old enough and had learned how to control his ability. They both knew from the tribunals that they had orchastrated the Bomb itself— what would they have used him for if they could have?

"It does make me realize I'm not actually smothering Silvia as much as I thought, though." Smothered, sheltered, all the same. She hadn't even let him leave the house, as far as he could tell. At least not often.

He would never do the same to the girl they'd adopted, even to protect her. She needed to make her own mistakes, live her own life— but know that they would always be there to help her if needed…

And to check and make sure her friends aren't psychopaths.

Like some of their friends might be.

"We might have, yeah… I don't even know how many people in… in Vanguard knew my real name." If Mateo Javier Ruiz had been his real name. But he didn't see why his mother would bother to change it in his memory if no one really knew him. "Almost all of them called me by the name he gave me." Hati.

Almost all of them had used just that.

Lynette can't help it. His realization about Siliva makes her chuckle. It's brief, and sort of exhaled with a breath, but it's there. "No, you're not. You're being a good father." That comes on warmer tones, with an appreciative gaze.

When he brings up the Vanguard, she nods softly. "Might have gotten lucky, there." He would he harder to find without his name. Without him being obvious with his ability. But the Vanguard brings around another thought. Something she didn't feel was her place to mention. Maybe still doesn't. "You know, Mateo… Richard told me a couple things about Dess. About her history. I think— You don't have to worry about her thinking poorly of you because of anything we saw there." Reassuring him ranks higher, though. Because she knows the worry is there, even if he didn't voice it.

His last words seem to sober her a little more and she looks over at him for a long moment. Almost all wasn't something she missed, either.

"Will you tell me about him? The man who told you that you aren't a weapon." The voice that was the only good memory they experienced. Her and Des, at least.

The woman he's coming to think of as a baby sister might not think badly of him? From his glance, Mateo might doubt that, but he nods after a moment. He's sure that there's something deep down there that makes her think that— and he'd seen her face. She had seen sympathetic more than anything. As if she understood, or at least didn't fear him. For what he was capable of, for what he had done. "That wasn't even the worst of it— those men were mercenaries, soldiers— an example…" And he'd been the weapon that cost them their lives. He didn't even know their names, but he had lived among their friends, their leader.

For a while.

"Ah… I suppose you understood that part." He's not sure Kaylee did— or that Des had gathered much of what had been said there either. Des at least knew some Spanish, but accents made things difficult at times. And she still sounded as if she wanted to speak French when she spoke it, too.

"That was… José… he was…" He rubs his hands through his hair. "I guess he was the first and only person I'd actually been with until I met you…" he laughs as if that might be funny.

It's not. He vaguely recalls women that he had dated, almost as if they were names and faces and emotions, but nothing else. A year ago he might have been concerned about mentioning his previous lover, but, well— then he met Nicole. And while she'd not been a lover, she had eased some of his concerns on that.

"I understand," Lynette says, when he explains the memory they saw. That it wasn't the worst of it. "I understand," she says again, maybe to make sure he knows that she is aware of the depths that particular organization tried to reach. And succeeded in reaching. "She will, too."

Her smile returns, if just softly, when he goes on. "I did. Only a Chilean could butcher the language more than I can," she says, teasing, self-depreciating, confirming. But when he starts to explain, she quiets and slides her arm around his. "He loved you," she says, and she sounds pretty sure of that, despite never meeting the man beyond a disembodied voice attached to a memory. She doesn't laugh. But she does seem to want to know more. "And he sounded sensible," she adds, her smile a little crooked there.

"I know he did," Mateo responds quietly, hand running over the part of his shirt that covers his tattoo. The tattoo had been for many reasons, some he probably didn't even know. Now that they had seen his mindscape, perhaps part of him had unconsciously known what it looked like. Perhaps it had been engrained on him in more ways than stories that his mother had read him. Stories certainly more appriopriate for a teenager and an adult than for a child. Maybe he'd never even heard them as a child.

"And he was a Chilean," he adds, trying not to sound sad at remembering him. He'd been one of the bright points of his real life after all. Along with her and Silvia. The brightest points.

His moon and sun and lightning, all wrapped in one. "He was the only one who didn't treat me like a weapon. I would sing for him, play for him… he got me to learn the charango." An Andean instrument, after all. "He… he was a huge flirt, very forward. Which I— hadn't been. Then."

He'd taken on some of the man's traits, though, as she'd seen when they first met. He'd been a bit of a flirt.

"Can't blame him for that," Lynette says, because she happens to know that Mateo is easy to fall in love with. She glances to his hand, but then back up at his face to listen. He even gets a smile as he goes on, bittersweet though it may be. "He sounds wonderful, Mateo," she says, when there's a lull, "He pulled you out of the dark." She doesn't need to ask that, either. She knows what that looks like. Mateo did it for her.

"Did he leave, too? When you left the Vanguard," she shifts, enough to slide her arm around him. To be comforting. There's a lot of reasons why Mateo might be sad about him, a lot of reasons why people don't stay together. None of them are happy reasons.

No, he didn't suppose she would blame him for that, but Mateo gives her a glance for a moment and nods, a hint of embarassment on his face for a moment. He wouldn't think himself easy to fall in love with— in fact now that he knew what his life had actually been like he's amazed he had been as put together as he had been back when he'd met his former lover. Then again, he really hadn't been. He'd thought it had all been because of losing his mom, the sudden noise in his head and everything else.

But he had been wonderful. And he had pulled him out of the dark. And he still loved him for that.

"No. He…" That causes him to trail off, shaking his head a little. No. He doesn't want to think about that part, but she can gather from the way his expression sinks, the look in his eyes as he shakes his head. "I think he would have, though. If he'd been able to." That's as much as he seems to want to say about that. The unhappiest of reasons, it would seem.

Lynette does seem to pick up on the clues, and she leans in to press a kiss to his temple. It's part support, part apology, really. She nods to his answer, although her own expression has fallen as well. "I'm glad you found him," she says, her voice soft, "and I'm sorry you lost him." And she is. If she could go back and spare Mateo any moment of loss, she would. Especially tonight.

In the kitchen, the coffee beeps, but she doesn't move to get it. Instead, she keeps an arm around him and her fingers tangled with his. Which might impede him from going to get any himself, too, if he had a mind to.

The coffee could wait, as Mateo leans toward her, fingers tightening through hers. He's very much aware it's beeping, but— he'd only half wanted it. And she's stronger than coffee. Or at least she quiets the noise a lot better. "I'm glad too. I don't think I would have survived if I hadn't met him." No, he doesn't think he would have had anything to survive for, if he hadn't met José. He would have gotten himself killed. Considering he still practically had a few times— he has no doubt of that, really.

He also doubts he would have been the same person if he hadn't met him— would she have really loved him, had they met seven, or eight years earlier? He doesn't even know…

Even if they say, many time, that it seems like they would always meet. Just because it happened twice over.

"I was a different person back then," he does add.

"Then I have a lot to be grateful to him for." Lynette's words are light, not a joke or a tease, but perhaps aiming to start carrying them away from the heavier pieces of his memories of José. And away from the frame of mind that had him needing a reason to survive. That's not only for him, but for her, too. She's had enough of those times herself.

"Of course you were," she says to his last words, "but who you were then, all that happened to you since your mother, it's part of how you became who you are now." She happens to be fond of that person. "I'm just sorry so much of what you saw tonight was so… sad. And dark. I have this plan to give you as many good memories as I can from here on, to make up for it."

"You're right," Mateo responds simply, knowing that there's no way he could argue against it, really. Who would he have been if he'd actually gone to university? What he would have been like if he'd been raised in a different way. Maybe in another world that he'll never see, he had been. Maybe one of the Other Otters had gone a different path— but it made this one what he was now. And it all led him to her, either way.

"You already have given me a lot of good memories," he adds with a small smile, feeling that memory that Kaylee had brought forward at the very end all over again. A trick, she had called it. Something that he could pull on. It made that sound in his head quiet, for certain. "But I look forward to what all you come up with to top the last ones."

"I often am," Lynette says, her tone wry and playful, "It's about time you noticed." She lifts her chin, but it's only in mocking pride, rather than her actually thinking she is right all the time. And maybe to try to cheer him up a bit. She has more to say about their trip into his mind. Theories about the noise and the maze. Ideas they could never really fact check. Experiments they will never do. As she tends to. But all of that is getting pushed to another night, if ever. Tonight, he deserves some time without it. The noise.

When he goes on, her expression softens. She can think of a few good ones, herself. But his last words turn a sentimental expression into something more sly. "Oh, I have a few ideas," she says, her tone shifting to match the look in her eye. She doesn't press any further than that, just testing the waters some. For how open he is to distraction.

In return for that sly look, Mateo grins openly, obviously glad for a small subject change as he leans closer and presses his lips against hers. He could easily turn this into something that they would traumatize the poor teenage girl if she walked in on it, but instead he adds, when their lips part, "I think the coffee's ready." The kiss had been half to tease them both for not paying attention, but to also give her a reason to leave the coffee behind all together and just… stay.

With him. Where they both can not talk about her ideas until a long bout of distraction. In their room, most likely.

To spare the teenager.

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