Carnival Of Rust


lynette3_icon.gif mateo_icon.gif silvia_icon.gif

Scene Title Carnival of Rust
Synopsis Lynette meets a man who died for her— all over again.
Date November 2, 2016

Benchmark Recovery Center: Mexico

The campus sprawls out over a high plateau above a blue ocean and rocky shoreline. The buildings are a warm, reddish-brown with high windows and a wide stretch of garden between them. The sound of the waves reaches them, even up here. It's probably one of the reasons she picked this spot. There are plenty of people about, some inside, some out. Some in therapy, some in withdrawal. Some with nowhere else to go.

Lynette is apart from all of them at the moment, standing outside the walls and gates for a better few of the ocean. She finds it a bit strange, how people look at her. The people who know who she is and what she did. And is still doing, in a way. The looks drive her to solitude more often than not, hiding behind paperwork and supply orders and other dull business of being in charge. But this afternoon, she's here for the view. Her skirt flutters against her legs in the wind, but if bared legs and arms make her cold, she doesn't seem to mind it.

In the aftermath of the second American Civil War, there might be few who could still call themselves Ferrymen, but there were many who were, even down in Mexico. Some of them had shown up to help a hero of the Ferry, specifically, including a young woman just barely in her teens. Without a home of her own, she'd grown up with the Ferry, from the stories she told. She does not speak English, but possessed of an ability that caused her to get exiled from her family at a young age. Silvia does not even remember much about them, from the sounds of things. Or maybe she's actively trying to forget.

Either way, she has never shown any desire to reconnect.

The girl probably causes as much desire to flee as anything, because as soon as her big brown eyes fall on Lynette, she looks on with admiration. Which happens again as soon as the young girl wanders down into view, interrupting the view of the ocean. "«Señorita Rowan?»" the girl speaks in her soft voice, filled with that admiration, but also something that sounds a little like… excitement.

If anyone understands actively trying to forget difficult memories, Lynette does. She doesn't turn until she hears the girl's voice, and she has to brush long blonde hair out of her face, but she greets her with a gentle smile. "Silvia," she says, lifting her hand to gesture the girl over. It's true that the admiration makes her uncomfortable, but not enough to shoo her away. "«How are you?»" Her Spanish was pretty rusty when she first got here, although she has improved since. Her accent still marks her as an American. "«Is anything wrong?»" That's usually when she gets tracked down, after all.

"«Oh no, everything is very good.», Silvia responds with that excited tone. She speaks very little English at all, so that has helped with getting a grasp for the language again. The girl tries, understanding some of what people say when they speak in English, but it's hit or miss. Her native language definitely helps. "«I found someone in town when I was getting supplies. They used to help at the place I was staying in the Ascensión Commune. I wanted them to meet you, so I brought them.»"

With a glance back in the direction she came, she waves as if trying to get the shadowy figure to step out of the shade and into view. He's not exactly dressed but the warm days, but more so for the cool nights, wearing a leather coat and jeans. His hair is thicker, wavy dark curls, he's clean shaven, but even after a few years of other memories, it's difficult to forget the face of a man who took a couple bullets for her.

The girl manages to answer Lynette's next question before she asks it, but then, perhaps why is a natural follow up. Silvia's excitement gets a chuckle from Lynette, but she nods. It's not the first time this sort of meeting has been set up. Or sprung on her. "«Who have you brought me?»" she asks, her tone playful. Her gaze follows the girl's and she prepares a welcoming expression, probably a speech, too.

But then she sees the figure step into view. She straightens up and her expression falls. Surprise, certainly, laced with confusion. Seeing him there brings the memory back to her, not that she's ever really forgot it. There are some painful memories you just have to hang onto. Her brow furrows. Her stomach flutters. She opens her mouth like she might say something, but closes it again and looks to Silvia. "«Will you introduce us?»"

"«Mateo!»" the young teen calls out and he approaches with a grin that seems directed at the enthusiastic young girl. His dark eyes do move to Lynette, but it lacks the recognition that had been there previously. Almost as if he's forgotten that moment which seems so long ago. Or whatever had preceded it.

"«Young Silvia cannot stop talking about you.»" Mateo states as he gets close enough, his Spanish slightly different from most of those in Mexico, as if he comes from somewhere else originally, but it has the sound of a native speaker, even then. He reaches up and ruffles the young teen's dark hair, in a gesture that seems familiar. After all, he apparently knew her.

Another man, older, appears from around the gate with a, "«Silvia! You are supposed to help unload not bother, Señorita Rowan.»

"«I know, I know! I'll be back!»" she adds before she hurries off, leaving Lynette alone with her guest, who follows her departure with an amused grin.

That was not the name Lynette expected to hear, but she recovers enough to smile his way again. If she's staring, perhaps he can forgive her. When it's clear he doesn't recognize her, or has forgotten her, her gaze flicks away for a moment. Over to Silvia to give her a crooked smile before she turns back to Mateo again. "«I can understand that. It can be boring here.»" Because that's the only reason she would be a topic of discussion, of course.

When another voice calls for Silvia, she watches the girl go, perhaps with some regret, as teenage girls are good for keeping a conversation going. And less awkward. "«Be careful!»" Lynette calls after her, but in the girl's wake, she has little to keep her from looking back to Ruiz.

A beat passes before she holds a hand out to him. "Lynette," she says, even though he already knows, "«If one more person calls me Señorita Rowan, I might cry.»"

Still looking away toward the direction the young girl ran off, Mateo is rubbing the back of his neck and hair, before he turns and smirks in a way that makes his eyes squint against the sunlight. "I can imagine," he says in English rather than Spanish— and very good English, too. He speaks as someone who has either spent a majority of his time speaking both languages, or someone who took great lengths to get rid of his accent and sound like a native speaker. This sounds more like the man she briefly met.

"It got fairly boring in the old Commune, too. Probably why Silvia remembers me so well. I was a break from the usual." After a moment, he looks back at her and adds, "She says you participated in the war up north. Very brave of you. Even I tried to stay out of that. I'd seen enough in Argentina."

That might be why his Spanish sounded a little different.

Something in his words makes Lynette chuckle with actual amusement and she shakes her head a little. "You're a break from the usual here, too," she says, a little wryly. Because he's only gorgeous. Of course, mention of the war sobers her up some. But she nods. "I was mixed in it, sure. I don't know if I'd called it brave. Stupid, certainly. I can't blame anyone who wanted to sit it out."

Her fingers tuck her hair behind an ear and she gives him a crooked smile. "I hope you didn't come all this way just to see me. Her stories are probably a little exaggerated." Maybe. Maybe not, though. The truth is pretty wild, after all. "Would you like to come inside? Out of the cold," she says with a gesture out to the view as if blaming it for the weather.

Out of the cold.

Mateo laughs at that as well, cause it's not really that cold yet, despite the fact he's wearing a leather jacket. It is just part of his attire. "If you're asking me to stay, I'd love to. Silvia spotted me before I got a room in town, so it's just me, my guitar and my bag. And it can get pretty lonely traveling alone. Most of my rest stops are, unfortunately, long gone now." He must have been a Coyote with the Ferry at some point by the way he speaks, cause it sounds like he doesn't stay one place long.

"And your place looks a lot nicer than the places I can afford to stay these days." That might explain the jacket— he may have been sleeping outside more often than not, and it does get cold at night, even in the nicer areas. "I can, of course, offer to help out, in exchange."

That might be why he came along with Silvia. Not just to meet a war hero, but to have a place to stay for a while.

When he laughs, Lynette puts her hands on her hips and attempts to glare in his direction, but a smile ruins it. "Oh, go ahead, laugh," she says, but only playfully, "you're not the one standing out here in a dress." Through no fault of her own, of course. "But you're very welcome to stay. Especially someone from the network," she says, her smile more genuine, "we have rooms and a kitchen and everything."

She nods for him to follow, but she doesn't take him around the front where Silvia had gone, but through a private door that leads into her office. She holds the door open and gestures him through. "And we are happy to accept help. Everyone here pitches in where they can. Not the patients, of course." But they're here for a different reason.

"Think I can honestly say I wouldn't actually know what being in a dress is like," Mateo jokes as he moves to follow her through the private door. His belongings are probably up front somewhere, as Silvia had obviously assumed that he would be staying the night, at least for a night. She hadn't actually extended the offer, but she expected the lady in charge to do so.

"Thank you, Lynette," he responds, using her name for the first time. It sounds different when he says it than when they were the first word from him she ever heard. There'd been something much different about his tone of voice back then.

How could things have changed so much?

"I have many skills. The network down here needed people who could do just about anything." Build, smuggle, cook, barter, drive, entertain… it's probably not a surprise that those who ran the network down here needed people who could do a little bit of everything.

"An endeavor for the future, then," she quips back as she lets the door close behind them. Lynette steps over to a cabinet on the wall, pulling open doors to reveal rows and rows of door keys hanging on hooks. It's clear this is not an abnormal occurrence, accepting in people who were once part of the Ferry, so Silvia wasn't exactly overstepping in her assumption. "We have rooms near the kitchen — warmer — or near the common room — louder — or up on the top floor which is both colder and quieter." She doesn't pick one for him, apparently giving him the choice.

When he says her name, she turns her head a little toward him, although her hands stay on the cabinet doors. Her expression dips at the difference in the sound, subtle though it may be. "Oh," she says, turning back to the keys, "you're welcome." She means it, even if her tone is dimmer. It was a traumatic day when they last met. Since he survived, somehow, it shouldn't be a shock that his memory is a little worse for wear. But disappointment lingers, no matter what rational explanation she can craft in her mind.

"We could use pretty much all of those skills here. Supplies are always an issue. Entertainment, too. We have a cook, but," she lifts a hand, seesawing it back and forth. The cook could be better. "So you can take your pick. Hell, pick a new one every day, if you like."

"I don't think I'd look near as good as you do," Mateo responds with a laugh, even as he takes it in stride. Yes, it does sound very much like he's flirting, even if there's something off-hand about it rather than aggressive. As they get inside, he slips his jacket off, wearing a short-sleeved shirt underneath. "I'm sure I'll find something to do. If nothing else I expect Silvia will make me play for you at least once."

That sounds like something the children in the old commune might have done often.

As he looks for a place to hang up his coat, a tattoo on his lower arm is visible. He has a small tattoo on his left lower arm, a circular maze pattern with a partially eclipsed sun in the middle. He hadn't had that back in the Arc. But there's also no sign of the upper arm gunshot wound if she looks for it, and the sleeve goes up high enough.

"I can help get supplies too. I still know some people in town."

"I'll grant you that. You'd probably look better without it." The words come out easy because flirtation was once like breathing for her. Even if it's rare to find someone willing to try it with her now. War Hero. Ferryman Council. Interviews. Stories. Books. It can be a little intimidating. But Lynette is also easy going about it, as she turns back to look his way. "Probably more than once, knowing her."

There is a coat rack in the room, near to the hallway door. It has a single jacket hanging on it. But there are also chairs and a desk and any number of options for coat hanging. She does catch sight of the tattoo, giving it a curious look. A more curious one goes to the lack of scars that she knows should be there. There are rational explanations for this, of course. And less rational ones. "We'll start you on the top floor. You might need the quiet after a few days here," she says with a chuckle, plucking a key off a hook and closing the cabinet behind her. "That would be helpful. We're always short on something."

The returned flirting keeps the smile on his face, even as he notices something about the way she's looking at him. Mateo doesn't make an assumption based on the situation, though, perhaps because he's used to some women looking at him that way when he's wearing just a thin shirt. Or perhaps he's just not thinking too much into it. He hangs up his coat, "I'm sure music will help your patients, too. I've never played at a place like this, but it helped a lot at the safehouses and communes I would stay in back before the war."

The war hadn't really destroyed the need for people to have safe places, it just made much of the network unavailable. He eventually lost track of people as they moved on. "I was glad to see Silvia is doing good. She was a good kid. Rough life, but good."

He seems to have a good enough memory of certain things.

When he turns to face her again, he lifts his chin, "So— maybe you should tell me a little about yourself, beyond the myths and legends." Cause no doubt Silvia made her sound like some super lightning goddess who singlehandedly ended the war and saved countless lives.

"Music can be an important part of recovery," Lynette says, in agreement. "If you're up for it. That side of the campus can be a little intense." Understandably. She comes back to her desk, to lean her hip against it as she looks over at him. A thread of something bittersweet lingers in her expression, although a smile stays on her face. "She's remarkable," she says, of the girl, "she's something of a bright spot for a lot of people here."

Maybe Lynette included.

She lets out a sigh when the conversation turns back to her, and she looks down at her desk to fiddle with some paperwork. Straightening it needlessly. "I'm still figuring that out," she says before she looks up at him again. "I've been a smuggler, I've run safehouses, I've run the network, I've been a soldier, captive, savior, horror, but me? I don't know." It might be a bit too honest because she smirks a moment later. "I suppose it depends on what you want to know."

"Sounds like you need some musical therapy as much as your patients," Mateo responds after a long moment of just watching her, even if she turned it into a smirk afterward. He might not seem to know her, but he recognizes that look. Seen it in many others over the years. A lost, sad look, hidden behind a smile and attempts at whimsy. And he might do that himself, more than he'd like to admit. The last few years had been difficult for most people who tested positive to the SLC tests. Even those who never actually took them.

"That door lead to the front?" he points at the other door that he didn't just come through. "I can go get my guitar and treat you to a private rehearsal. Get your seal of approval before I play for everyone else."

Lynette lifts an eyebrow at his prognosis, but she doesn't argue the point. "They're not my patients, I'm just an administrator." They are her people, though.

"Oh, yes. Out and to the left, it'll take you right to the front doors." His offer, crouched as it is in an audition, gets a crooked smile. "You really don't have to, but I suppose I should make sure you're actually good before I unleash you on anyone. I'd hate to set back anyone's progress," she says, a tease in her tone.

"Only fair to force me to audition. Can't always trust the word of an overzealous teenager," Mateo says as he winks, leaving the room through the door. He's gone for a short time, likely cause he had to talk to said teenager, but he returns with both his guitar case and the backpack that must hold almost everything he owns. It's a decent sized pack, but light enough he could carry both easily enough. He closes the door behind him, though she might see the teen in the distance looking as if she wants to eavesdrop.

Setting the backpack against the wall, he then lays the guitar case on the ground, taking a minute to get it out. As he sits, in the chair, he strums a few cords, adjusting the strings once before he starts to play, picking away with callous fingers rather than a he strums a few cords, fingerpicking with it, before he starts to play a slow intro, leading into the song of his choice, which he'd chosen on the way to get his guitar.

To breathe the name
Of your savior
In your hour of need
And taste the blame
If the flavor should remind you of greed
Of implication, insinuation and you will
Till you cannot lie still
In all this turmoil, before red cave and foil
Come closing in for a kill

When he leaves the room, Lynette steps away from her desk to look at the nearest reflective surface. Which happens to be a window. It's an old impulse, checking how she looked during that whole conversation as if she might be able to judge how well or how poorly it was going from the twists in her windswept hair. An impulse she hasn't given much attention to since before the war. Before the island. A lifetime ago. After a moment or two, she looks past her reflection and out at the view again. Her arms fold and she falls into a sort of melancholy silence.

Of course, as the door opens again, she turns toward him with a smile and she comes back over to lean against her desk again. Her head tilts at the intro, her eyes following the movement of his fingers. His voice draws her attention up, though, and her arms unfold to rest against the desk instead. Her expression is a difficult read, but she's not cutting him off, so that might imply some level of approval.

Though he's looking off into the distance as he sings, he does look back toward her for a moment, as if to access her approval or disapproval. It could be Mateo picked one of the songs he knew or liked best. But one might also suspect a reason behind it, even if he didn't have too much time to ponder on it as he retrieved his guitar.

Come feed the rain
'Cause I'm thirsty for your love
Dancing underneath the skies of lust
Yeah feed the rain
'Cause without your love, my life
Ain't nothing but this carnival of rust

His eyes meet hers for a moment while he sings during that, and stays on her as he continues past the chorus.

It's all a game
Avoiding failure
When true colors will bleed
All in the name
Of misbehavior
And the things we don't need
I lust for after no disaster can touch
Touch us anymore
And more than ever, I hope to never fall
Where enough is not the same it was before

The lyrics are certainly not missed, although her response is only an arched eyebrow and the hint of a smile forming. She works that back into a more neutral look, though, like she might want him to worry that she's not digging it as much as Silvia does.

But really, it's because she's trying to work it all out in her head. Did he pick this song just now in the hallway because he knows he sounds good? Or did he pick it on the way here, knowing she would read into it? Paranoia and overthinking haven't left her, whatever of her old habits she's shaken over the years. But at least this is a much more pleasant thing to be overthinking than usual.

When he closes his eyes, she pulls back onto the desk to sit. To sit and watch him, to puzzle him out. And also because he does sound good.

Don't walk away, don't walk away
Ooh, when the world is burning
Don't walk away, don't walk away
Ooh, when the heart is yearning
Don't walk away, don't walk away
Ooh, when the world is burning
Don't walk away, don't walk away
Ooh, when the heart is yearning

The last word is drawn out, and then he plays the final notes and the room grows silent, except for a sudden clapping on the other side of the door. No doubt from young Miss Silvia. Mateo laughs, hearing that applause, even as someone yells something in Spanish at her and she goes back to work, leaving him to rest the guitar against his legs and look up at her.

"So do I pass?" he asks with a quirk to one of his eyebrows.

Lynette presses her lips together, her eyes narrowing a touch as she looks over at him. It's an expression that breaks when Silvia claps from the other side of the door. Because Lynette laughs, too. "You have her vote, at least."

She picks up the room key she picked out for him and slides off the desk to hold it out toward him. "And I guess you have mine, too." She stops next to his chair, looking over at him, debating internally for a moment. But in the end, she can't stop herself. Curiosity. "Just tell me one thing," she says, her voice quieter. Probably because they have an audience.

"Do you know me this time?"

The raised eyebrow lowers as he smiles at her laughter, the obvious notice of the girl's vote, and then finally her own vote of confidence. Mateo looks back toward the door, hearing some Spanish on the other side that sounds like the poor teenager, but it also seems to be moving away, as if the patience had ended for her slacking. When he looks back, he notices the drop in her tone of voice, the sound. And then the question. Which seems odd to him.

With a tilt of his head, he looks as if he's trying to remember, feeling very foolish. Had he helped her get down south and completely forgot about it? No, he's pretty sure her he would have remembered. He definitely would have remembered her.

"This is the first time we've met, as far as I know."

"Hmm," Lynette says, noncommittally, at first. "You look like someone I knew once." It's a lighter tone there, backing off from the more serious tone of the question. "The room number's on the keychain," she says, "dinner happens early around here. We usually eat together. It's a bonding thing." It might be something she feels the need to explain. Or defend. "Breakfast and lunch are more slapdash. I'm not a fan of rising early." And it's her facility. So her timetable is paramount. "You can have some time to settle in before someone around here puts you to work, so don't feel like you have to jump right in."

Someone she knew once. Mateo watches her for a time, before he stands up, holding the guitar in one hand and taking the key in the other. Top floor, she'd said, peace and quiet. "I am more of an early riser, but usually because I don't have an actual bed," he muses as he puts away the guitar, the key sliding into his pocket. He retrieves his jacket and pulls it back on, covering the tattoo and the not-bullet holes, before he looks back at her and nods. "I look forward to dinner. And perhaps you can tell me about this friend I remind you of."

A friend, but not really.

As he pulls the bag up onto his shoulder, she'll spot a patch sewn into it. A name, likely to identify ownership.


"Well, now you have an actual bed," Lynette points out since it is his as of now. It's even comfortable. Lynette's roughed it before, but she's not going to if she doesn't have to. And neither is anyone else around her, apparently. She watches as the tattoo disappears, a puzzled expression coming to her face. Just for a moment. When he looks back at her, she pulls her attention back to his face. "Oh," she says with a gentle smile, "maybe one day." He wasn't a friend, but he impacted her life all the same. "I'll see you there," she says absently as the patch grabs her attention.

She didn't need the confirmation, exactly, but it makes her draw in a breath all the same. But that's the extent of her reaction. At least until he's out of the room. Once she's alone, her face falls and she looks toward the door like she might be expecting him to pop back in and tell her it was all a joke. But that's silly, of course, so she pivots herself back toward the desk and tries to focus on her work.

Instead, though, she tries to dream up an explanation that fits the information she has. At least until someone comes to remind her to go to dinner.

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