luther_icon.gif lynette_icon.gif mateo_icon.gif

Scene Title Doorstep
Synopsis Luther comes to a friend in a drunken stupor.
Date June 5, 2018

Benchmark: Ruiz Apartment

The Benchmark Recovery and Counseling Center is known in the Safe Zone for being open to receive inpatients at all hours. Sometimes those potential patients that arrive, especially the ones that appear during the trouble hours after the bars are closed or have kicked them out, are in pretty rough shape. One such shape that appears, tall and broad, stumbles into the front doors shoulder first, thudding loudly against the locked half. It startles the night shift staffer enough to make them sit up at the front desk and almost call for a guard.

Almost… But not quite.

A few minutes later, there’s a soft alert for Lynette and Mateo’s suite. It’s late, or early depending on how one views time. Mister Bellamy is here. And… Lynette should come. A code given as well, one that stands for inebriation.

Sometimes Lynette doesn't sleep. This is one of those nights where she got in a couple hours, then woke up from a nightmare steeped in memory and decided that it would be better not to close her eyes again. So she's not even bleary-eyed when she makes her way downstairs, even though she is wrapped in a robe and has clearly been in bed.

Downstairs, she takes over the handling of one Mister Bellamy, thanking the staff for letting her know and for taking care of him. And then she leads him into the elevator that leads up to the safehouse level with explicit instructions to not throw up in her elevator. Once they're back upstairs, she brings him back to the Ruiz apartment, rather than into one of the extra rooms.

"Alright," she's saying as they come back in the door, "the couch is dead ahead. Sit and I'll make you some coffee."

When Lynette reaches the downstairs receiving lobby, she finds Luther Bellamy having been helped into a cushioned chair. His suit jacket is a bit wrinkled, as is the dark blue button-down shirt unbuttoned in the first few, tie already taken off and tossed somewhere. Maybe his car’s backseat, which Lynette is informed that they’ve moved it to the parking lot instead of haphazardly straddling the driveway. The bottle he came in with has since been removed from his hand, the contents to be disposed of and the bottle recycled. Waste not.

She’s felt his weight on her shoulders plenty of times in the past. Also, she’s smelled the heavy stink of alcohol - whiskey - lingering on his person. Once she gets him upright and moving again, the man manages to stagger along into the elevator. He does not throw up. Admirably, there’s not even a scare of it. But he does close his eyes for the sensation of the change of movement in vertical direction, and makes a face as he leans against the wall of the elevator. “Where ‘re we going? Chess? Going to…” he manages to speak, tone thick, eyes lifting to look up at the heavens. But the elevator ceiling provides no answers.

Not reluctantly but with a stumbling pace, he walks with a supporting Lynette into the Ruiz’s living space. The man responds to Lynette’s direction with a hefty exhale. Each step made towards the couch thumps heavy, dragging, made with effort from an uncooperative network of thoughts put to action. But he finally reaches the couch in question and sinks into the middle of it. His head lolls back against the cushion, arms spread along the back of the couch. It’s for balance. Ok, not really.

“I’m getting the coffee ready,” Mateo says from the kitchen, having heard the alert and been told to get some coffee ready. Either way someone would need it, so he started it brewing as he hangs in the door, frowning at the man who had given them the banshee. Making coffee didn’t require much arm movement, which was good cause otherwise she probably wouldn’t have allowed him to do anything at all as it was. There’s no more bandage visible on his chest under his shirt, just the lightest of wrapping mostly to give his healing muscles some additional support, and his arm is in a sling. It would likely be out of the sling by now if it weren’t for his wife.

“Is coffee going to be enough?” he asks with a hike to his brow, wondering what had driven the security guard to such lengths, but he imagined they would hear it eventually. “Should I get a bucket, too?” There’s a trash can not too far from the couch, at least. That could handle anything he couldn’t manage to keep down.

"Only if it's filled with ice water," Lynette says dryly. She's dealt with enough drunks to know— been one of those drunks herself— nothing is as satisfying as tossing cold water onto an unsuspecting face.

Also, it helps bring them around, but whatever.

But at Mateo's words, she slides the trashcan closer with her foot, then leaves Luther on the couch and heads for the kitchen, too. Because Mateo needs a kiss on the cheek from his wife for being such a good sport. "Thank you," she says to him, and not just for making the coffee. She grabs some crackers before she heads back out again.

They're passed to the poor, drunken soul.

"I hope you realize that by coming here drunk, you are about to get the most sober you've ever been," she remarks. Because it's a rehab center. She's only sort of teasing. "What's going on, Bellamy?"

The giant that’s invaded the couch stirs with the sounds of voices talking. Luther’s head lifts off the couch cushion, arms drawing back inward from their original sprawl. A hand, fingers, tug at the collar of his shirt as he turns his gaze upon the crackers being offered out. The same hand spiders out for the salty snacks. He’s never been one to refuse food unless the situation were truly dire. But he doesn’t open the package yet, instead leaning forward with elbows on thighs near his knees. Fingers explore the packaging as he sniffs loudly, then exhales a rough, alcohol ridden breath. He likely does not realize where he is, given his preoccupied mental capacity.

“She’s gone, Rowan. Gone. I fucked it all up.” Luther’s head shakes side to side, his pitiable lamenting tinted by a frustrated throaty rumble made deeper by the drink. “I fucking. Lost her. She’s gone, and I…” The man’s jaw tightens, the package of crackers in his hands getting stress-tested. They aren’t holding up well to the pressure of the man’s squeezing fingers. Until Luther dips his head low, forearms leaned onto knees now, shoulders hunching.

“I punched Richard.”

The admittance comes with a curl of his right hand, where the abrasions are fading but still there.

There’s a lot going on here that Mateo doesn’t quite understand, but he does understand loss. Who she is is unknown right now, so he just looks worried as he goes to get some ice water. It doesn’t take long to return with a mixing bowl full of it. Ice from the fridge and cold water from the tap, all set down at the table. Though they probably won’t want to toss it in his face while he’s on their couch.

“Did he deserve it?” he simply asks, because, well, sometimes men deserve a punch to the face. Especially if he had something to do with Luther losing someone.

An excellent question. Lynette has one of her own, of course.

"Who's gone?" she asks gently. She knows some of Luther's past, of things he might be reliving in his mind. Any current loss, though, that would be news to her. "Hey, those are going to be crumbs if you keep up," she says, reaching over to put a hand on his arm. "And you need to eat them."

She looks over at Mateo, her thanks limited to a smile turned up his way. This isn't usually how the Benchmark handles drunken episodes, and he didn't exactly sign up for it invading their home this way.

The answer to whether or not Richard deserved the punch is a mixed one. Luther nods in the way most horses toss their heads up and down, a beleaguered movement made slow by weight. “Fucking told me… it was to protect… the company,” he says as he focuses on the crackers package. “The people.” A scoff staggers out of the man who at the moment looks like nothing of the composed head of security he’d been not long ago. Finally, fingers manage to work the package of crackers open. But he doesn’t eat.

Instead, he lifts his head, staring at the direction of the far wall but gazing into the middle distance. “Miss Desdemona Desjardins,” he rolls off, the name uttered in the same manner as a snarl, “Is an actual war criminal named Odessa Knutson.” He sits up a little more, posture improved by a feeling of spite. Betrayal. “Her dossier was all over the paper, you know?” Grey eyes flick to Lynette beside him, she’s the closest one to see the outrage behind his eyes.

“She’s a goddamn blood traitor. And was working for Richard this whole time.” The man angles his gaze away then, the anger being taken out on the object in his hands and the invisible forms only he pictures, the taunting devils laughing in his mind.

The poor package of crackers is unlikely to survive at this rate.

“We tried to detain her, but. She had an ability. Time manipulation.” And it’s at that notion that Luther coughs out a wry, dry laugh. Humorless. Still angry.

Des an actual war criminal with time manipulation. It doesn’t seem like any of this strikes Mateo as particularly surprising, though, because he too had seen the article. And he had some idea of what she had been up to in the past. They both had pasts they attempted to escape from, with varying degrees of success. Though he didn’t know exactly the extent of what she may have done until he saw the article.

It’s strange how, when Luther gets to the point where he says they tried to detain her that he looks relieved. That she didn’t get detained. It’s possibly not the best reaction, so he rubs a hand through his hair and looks toward his wife as if somehow she’ll have all the answers to this.

None of it comes as a surprise to Lynette, either. She doesn't look toward Mateo, though, nor does she look relieved at the news. But that's because she is keeping her expression neutral for the moment. By the time the term blood traitor is being tossed into the conversation, she lets out a sigh. Mateo would recognize it as a stand in for an oh dear.

Lynette reaches over to pat Luther on the shoulder, comforting, sympathetic.

So the shock isn't only from how cold the water is when his face hits it, but also from the fact that Lynette is the one that got him there. She holds him there for just a moment before she hauls him back up. She looks at his face, but seems to dub him too drunk still because she dunks him a second time.

That's when she looks at Mateo, giving him a reassuring smile before she lets Luther straighten up again.

"Bellamy, this is unacceptable," she says— it's a tone Mateo hasn't heard her use, but one that drags Luther back in time. "Look at yourself. You're sweating alcohol. You're upset about what? That you didn't get to arrest someone? Haul her in on your own? That's not your job. Your job is to keep that building and the people in it safe. How is this," she says, gesturing to him in all his drunken glory, "doing that at all?"

Luther looks in both Mateo and Lynette’s directions once he relays that information about the most recent reason for his drunken bender. In a way, it’s fortunate that he’s drunk enough to not truly catch the relief from Mateo’s face. The nuances of Lynette’s neutral expression also missed, the sympathetic pat on his shoulder, disarming.

The initial shock of ice cold water on his face comes with the reflexive gasp for breath, resulting in the man choke-struggling through the first few seconds of being held down. The package of crackers drops out of his hands, rolling along the ground a couple of inches from the stomp of his boot. Luther sputters upon being pulled up the first time, coughing and in the middle of an emphatic “Fu—” before he’s pushed back down. His hands grasp for hers as his body bucks under Lynette’s surprisingly strong grip on him. The bowl of ice water sloshes violently, spilling liquid all over the table and onto their floor.

The man’s still gasping for breath and half-coughing when Lynette lays into him. He’s also dripping all over their couch, and a hand wipes at the water in his face. He’s just shy of stumbling up onto his feet. But he levels an accusatory stare at Lynette first, one that might suggest retaliation for that trick. Until her words actually penetrate the haze and ring truth to the situation. It sucks the wind out of his sails, leaving him breathless in more ways than one.

Guilt pulls his gaze down and away, to the now mostly sloshed out bowl of ice water. “I didn’t mean that I was upset about not catching her,” he comments in a roll of less slurred words. When his hand moves to wipe his face again, it’s also to give himself a moment to compose his thoughts and take in a couple breaths. Calming breaths. When he finally looks back to the couple there, his expression tints with an apology. “Didn’t mean to bring all this to your doorstep either.”

There’s a sympathetic wince when face meets ice cold water. Mateo had briefly had his thumb in there to confirm that it had been actually ice cold, so he felt that it would have been an unpleasant experience. But it would certainly push someone out of a stupor better than being slapped across the face. And when the man explains what he hadn’t been upset about, he kind of understands that too. “You were upset because you didn’t know,” he states quietly. As a security officer, he hadn’t noticed the discrepancies that would have to have been in Des’ file. But also— people he had considered friends had not told him.

That would have been the worst part.

If Mateo hadn’t known that she had secrets since meeting her, reading about her crimes might have shocked him worse. But—

He had worked with Vanguard himself. So he understood, in many ways, just how horrible someone could get when they had nothing to lose and a charismatic person whispering in their ear. Volken might have been a horrible man, but he knew what to say to get people to do things they would otherwise have never done.

"Well, drinking yourself into a stupor isn't going to fix that, either," Lynette says. A little less harsh this time. She doesn't seem to mind the water splashing over their living room, only him. "We're not calling people blood traitors, Luther. The war's long over."

His last words get a gentle sigh. "This is what my doorstep is for," she says, picking up the crackers to pass them back over to him. "It sounds to me like you need to have an actual conversation with Richard about this, about feeling lied to. Not punching." It's a distinctly mothering tone, those last words. "You two need to find a place to stand between your job and his secrets. Assuming you still have a job," she adds, dryly.

Most places would fire him.

"We need to talk about Odessa," she adds, words serious again.

Wiping off his face some more with his drier parts of his shirt sleeve, Luther sucks in a steadying, sobering breath or two around the remnants of sputtering coughs. He’s endured worse treatment at the hands of other militants, but somehow Lynette’s words that the war’s long over strike him harder than any fist or pistol handle. He turns away, a pained grimace wrinkling in an override of drunk features. Lynette, or even Mateo, can recognize the expression there. The pain of loss, of grief at most times a dull throb but at times refreshed, irritated, made raw by recalled memory. And by the drink.

“He didn’t tell me she could stop time. Because he thought I’d… I don’t know. Find a way to stop her. Thought she’d have no choice,” he says to Mateo after a beat to compose himself enough that the topic moves away from one blonde woman in Luther’s past to a formerly blonde woman. Who also possibly happens to be in Luther’s past, in a way. There’s a bitterness to the way he laughs, a short snort of breath exhaled.

The package of sad crackers, received back into his hand, looks worse for wear but the contents are at the very least still edible. Luther extracts a couple pieces, turning them over in his fingers. His gaze slips sidelong to Lynette for the mothering, and the man twitches a wrinkle in the bridge of his nose to the notion of talking to Richard. Instead of punching. Instead, there’s crunching as he finally pops the crackers in to chew on while he ruminates. “I’m not feeling lied to. I was actually lied to,” he counters, crunching away.

The seriousness of Lynette’s tone and the name she says with it get another sidelong glance as he swallows the couple bits of cracker down. “She’s gone,” he repeats of previous remarks, as if he reaffirms this fact to himself. Doesn’t matter that they’re both within earshot easily. “When we - I - was told to detain her and bring her up to Richard’s office, I thought… Him and Secretary Lazzaro were already making arrangements. I thought.” And that seems to be where his conflict lies. Thought versus Action. Luther shakes his head slowly. “God, I’m an idiot.”

Actually lied to. And him and the Secretary had been making arrangements? With a shake of his head, Mateo looks toward Lynette as if he can’t believe any of this that he’s hearing. That her friend would go with plausible deniability, saying they didn’t know something, lying about what they did know and then let her run. “Didn’t they know running would look worse?” He would know.

He has thought multiple times about turning himself in if it ever came down to it. If they came to arrest him one day, he wouldn’t run. And he hoped that Lynette would not try to encourage him to. He looked back at his wife, waiting to see what she had to say about this, because really— she knew more about it than him and in many ways he’s got as much to be ashamed of.

His crimes just happened so much further away.

"Alright, then you talk to him about how being actually lied to has affected you," Lynette says, perhaps a little exasperated, but that is why she is not one of the counsellors here.

Still, as he explains the series of events, Lynette shakes her head, disappointed. There's a flash in her expression, something far more judgmental than that, but she rubs a hand over her face and brushes it away. "Running definitely looks worse. For her. Damn it," she says, pushing herself up to stand. Hands run back through her hair, because this has become a kerfuffle now instead of just a mess. "Vincent wanted her to rabbit. Put her on the off foot, put distance between her and anyone who would help her. Richard would have done better by getting her a very good lawyer. And it isn't like he needed deniability. He didn't know about her time in Humanis First until that article came out."

Unless, of course, he did.

The thought brings a frown to her face and she looks at Mateo. Perhaps Richard kept the truth from all of them.
Luther gets her attention again and her hand moves to rest on his shoulder. "You're not an idiot. How could you have known anything was off?" That's comfort, which is a new addition to this process. In the old days, it was mostly just a raised voice. Very raised, sometimes.

A couple more crackers disappear into Luther’s mouth more out of rote movement than conscious action. “Lazzaro was just doing his job,” he rumbles, followed by a more mumbled, “So was I.” Casting a glance back to Mateo, Luther shrugs and shakes his head. “They had to have known that running was the dumb path. Or, you’d think. But people do stupid shit when they panic.”

His jaw twitches and he looks away to the bowl of ice water contemplatively. “Or when they’re… in love.” He doesn’t dismiss the possibility of it.

But when Lynette goes on, she can feel the tension in Luther’s shoulder that couples on to the back end rollercoaster of his emotions. “Because I’m supposed to be the head of security. I’m supposed to know when there’s a war criminal hiding out. I’m supposed to be able to protect the ones I…” He catches what word was going to come out, the hand not holding the crackers curling into a fist. His head dips again, a shudder breaking through. “I’m sorry.”

Stupid shit when they panic. Or are in love. That thought makes Mateo look toward his wife for a moment, an eyebrow quirked as if to ask a question without actually asking the question. Were Richard and Des really like that with each other? Or was Luther just using a figure of speech. While being in love can cause people to do risky things, it’s usually to stay with that other person. If it were that, he would feel like the man would do whatever he could to keep her near, including going with her if that had been the only option.

It also means… He would know where she would go and have a way to contact her. But until he knew what Luther would do, he doesn’t want to say that out loud. “People make mistakes. She wasn’t currently a war criminal. People don’t wear their past like a badge on their coat.” If he did, he’d have a wolf head trying to bite the moon on his. “And the war lost a lot of personal information.”

What had been out there would be potentially destroyed and it wouldn’t have been his fault if he hadn’t noticed some forged documents or some holes in the story. Everyone’s likely missing parts of their past, with the years of war and the destruction of records.

It might be one of the only reasons they didn’t notice the problems with his own paper work.

"Of course he was just doing his job. He's very good at his job, that's all I meant." Lynette has a fondness for Vincent, after all. Not that she would say so here. She only embarrasses the man with affection when there's not an audience.

"People do stupid shit all the time. You know that. Running covers RayTech, but not Des. Maybe that's how she wanted it, but— " Lynette stops her thought there because it is true that Des is a grown woman capable of making her own choices. But she can't help the urge to protect her and the worry that Des is bent on self-sabotage. She looks over at Mateo, the notion that they may be in love gets an unsure expression. She knew him and Liz when they were together and now that they know she's working on coming home, it seems less likely to her. But. She can hardly claim to know the man well enough to say for sure.

But her attention turns back to Luther, because emotion is happening. She was waiting for that stage, of course, because it was bound to show up. "It's alright. Luther, it's alright to be upset." Her hand tightens on his shoulder and she nudges him a little. "Come on. We'll get you a room for the night and see how you feel in the morning." Because after emotion usually comes exhaustion. She's familiar with the rotation.

Luther presses a heel of his hand to his eyes, coming away with a slightly damper palm than he means. The man fights for breath and composure, losing a little ground before battling back. Enough regained that he can shift a look up to Mateo, the man’s words getting a short, small nod. People do make mistakes. But he doesn’t quite readily agree on the subject of Des’ criminality at this point, though the man’s in no state of mind to continue with anything not wholly based on the gut feelings that arise.

Lynette’s statement provides a supportive relief, that everything isn’t about to come crashing down around them. And that the only about to crash is Luther’s energy level.

“No, I should get back.” Luther starts to rise, somewhat unsteady but not about to collapse yet. Definitely not fit for driving, but the typical common sense has leapt away long ago and into an empty whiskey bottle. A hand reaches up to grip Lynette’s, the man adding, “You’re a good friend.” It comes with a second glance to said friend’s “lucky” husband, inclusive of the other man in the equation.

Luther shoves the package of crackers into his pocket, fishing for his keys. He doesn’t know the front desk took them awhile ago already.

“You can try,” Mateo responds with a knowing quirk of an eyebrow as he glances toward his wife once again, the likely giver of terrible news in the case of vehicle access. He’d be far more likely to talk them into a cab to get him home than driving off on his own.

“You really did pick the wrong place to go after drinking, pal,” he adds, grinning a little cause this he can find some amusement in through the pain of his old gunshot wound. Even if it’s at the poor guy’s expense.

"In the morning," Lynette says, because really. She chuckles a little at Mateo's point, because he did pick the wrong place if he wanted people to support terrible decisions.

When Luther grips her hand, though, she turns back to him with a gentler expression. It's such a nice thing to say to someone who dunked him in ice water and instructed the front desk to hide his keys.

"Come on, Bellamy. The beds are comfortable and the coffee will be plentiful in the morning."

And there's no arguing the point, really, because she's going to shove him into a bed even if he insists on trying to get to his car. And there's little hope that he'd be able to get up once he's down.

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