lynette3_icon.gif mateo_icon.gif richard_icon.gif

Scene Title Eggshells
Synopsis Richard comes to talk to the Ruizes about an alternate version of Des.
Date June 26, 2018

Benchmark: The Ruiz Apartment

If Richard Ray comes to the Benchmark too much more often, there might start to be rumors that he’s visiting for rehabilitation. Fortunately, the lack of strong internet connectivity has lowered the presence of paparazzi, and there aren’t many tabloid photographers who’ve taken up developing film in their own basements yet.

It’s a safer time to be a celebrity, at least until the cockroaches figure out how to fill that void.

He’s in a nice grey suit when he walks into the lobby, approaching the front desk and offering the receptionist an easy smile, “Good morning. Are either of the Ruizes available, by any chance? Richard Ray.”

The woman at the front desk certainly recognizes him. It's clear in the smile that's a little less practiced than she typically uses. It isn't everyday people ask of either Ruiz, but she rolls with it easily enough.

"Let me find out," she says before she disappears for a few minutes. Richard can hear the tinny sound of a conversation over the intercom before she comes back out and shows him to the elevator. She knows how to get him up to the top floor, which might imply that she's more in the know than not. When the elevator doors open, he's left in the private residence level with directions to the Ruiz apartment.

It all has that lingering paranoia one might expect from a former Ferryman. But when he gets to their suite, he doesn't even have to knock, because the Ruizes are already there waiting to welcome him inside.

It is good to have less in the way of paparazzi, but if they did any research at all they could probably make the call that they’re friends. Not that tabloids did much in the way of actual research. Dress in his usual casual attire, Mateo looks much better than he had the last time he was at Raytech, though it still looks as if he’s not getting out too often. At least he’s no longer bandaged or arm in a sling or any of the post getting shot stuff that had happened for a month.

He looks tired, but not sad or in pain. In fact he’s got a small smile on his face when the door opens in greeting. “Come on in. We’re just finishing lunch.” The two of them. Their teenage daughter must be out and about doing whatever it is teenage daughters do.

“Hey,” Richard greets the two with a smile - tired, as well, but genuine - as he steps in at the invitation, “How’re you doing, Mateo, healing up alright…?” The other man’s given a quick once-over, not noticing any bandages or slings or any signs of injury or pain. Which is generally a good sign.

“I seem to recall getting shot sucks,” he adds, tone wry, “Sorry if I’m interrupting lunch…”

"You're not interrupting," Lynette assures, whether he is or not, really. She looks tired, too, so much so that she seems to be leaning against Mateo. It's really hard to stand on your own, like… super hard. "Make yourself at home," she says with a gesture toward the couch.

She lets Mateo answer the questions about his health, but she seems touched that he asks. Of course, her answer would probably be something along the lines of he's still recovering or he needs to rest more than he is, but today those comments are left unspoken.

“Well I said we just finished— it’s good timing, too,” Mateo responds with a small nod as he reaches an arm around his wife to hold onto her. He’s missed the little intimate touches the last few days, with him having to basically do something he really didn’t want to do. At least she’s no longer sleeping on the couch. Now she’s sleeping somewhere else entirely.

But they can have lunch together, watch the latest episode of Styx, all that stuff that they used to do.

Well, some of the stuff that they used to do.

“Getting shot wasn’t something I ever want to do again. Ever.” And it would be a lot easier on his wife and daughter and sister if it never happened again too. “But I can use my arm again.” And play guitar. And hug his wife. And do other things that had been painful before. “So I doubt this is a social call…” He trails off.

“One of these days I hope to actually be able to go visit my friends and have them not be surprised if it is a social call,” is Richard’s wry response, a brow lifting a little as he admits, “At least I hope you’re my friends.”

Unsure about how he’s considered, perhaps.

“I went to talk to…” A pause, glancing around as if to make sure that they’re not being listened to, “…your sister, last night. At least the iteration of her currently available.”

"I would much prefer it if you didn't get shot again, either." Some women are into scars, this one is into her husband in one piece. Lynette glances over at Mateo, her smile a little crooked. But there's something a little sad in there, too.

"All of us are terrible at it. Just being social. Maybe one day," she says, because really. Between the war and the war before anyone called it that, when was the last time any of them weren't in crisis mode. "And Richard," she says, her tone turning wry at his words, amused, perhaps, "if we weren't friends, we wouldn't let you in."

Lynette has no qualms in telling people to leave if they're not wanted. She never did.

Her head tilts at his news, expression turning more serious.

"Are you okay?"

“Is she okay?” Two very different questions, but both could be answered at the same time. It isn’t that Mateo doesn’t have concern for him, but he definitely worries about his sister. Especially since he’s still unsure about their relationship and how things were— Not to mention that she’d been on the run already before this whole thing started. With the other world version in her body.

The hint of a smile tugs up at the corner of Richard’s lips at Lynette’s question. She was always too perceptive for her own good. “I’m fine,” he says with a shake of his head, brushing it away, “I’m worried about her, but— she’s a survivor. It’s what she does.”

A breath’s drawn in, then, before he answers the other Ruiz. “She’s— unhappy with the situation, to say the least. And…” He fixes Mateo with a worried look, “She wants to talk to you, but I think it also scares her. She— before she knew who you were, the relationship between you?”

“I think she killed you.”

Lynette looks relieved that it wasn't a bad visit, at least not in the physical sense. And she might have things to say, things about helping her if they can, things to comfort her in her odd situation. But those last words flip her expression before they're even completely spoken.

Which should surprise no one, since she recently tried to kill someone who tried that with her Mateo.

"She did what?"

The fact that she wants to talk to him only hits her a moment later and she laughs. Mirthlessly. "Oh, Richard, tell me there's a reason we should let her within miles of him."

This is a terrible time to be trying to get sober again.

Another dead otter, as Eve would have called them. Suddenly Mateo feels as if he should have been sitting down for this conversation. With a quiet glance toward Lynette, he instead reaches to squeeze her hand, as if trying to assure her, comfort her. Instead of trying to figure this whole statement out, he says a quote. One she might recognize. After all it is an English translation of one of his favorite short stories.

Time forks perpetually toward innumerable futures. In one of them, I am your enemy.” Sorry Richard, he’s quoting a short story. “I guess in that one, Des and I met as enemies, rather than friends or family…” Which might be troubling, but… “We don’t know what happened, but either way the circumstances here are different.” He’s a different person. She’s lost in a world she doesn’t know. And he also doesn’t know who that otter had been. Perhaps he had still been in Vanguard. Perhaps he had been the one to attack her. Just as he didn’t blame Eileen, he can’t really blame another Odessa.

“And maybe knowing what she does changes things for her, too.”

“She works directly for Arthur Petrelli,” Richard says, one hand rubbing against the nape of his neck, “She doesn’t… believe that he’s the evil bastard we know him as, but I think I’ve seeded some doubts at least. She was sent to eliminate ex-Vanguard on the risk that they tried to rise up in Volken’s name again.” Mateo gets a pointed look at that, one brow arching upwards in inquiry. “At least that’s what she was told.”

“She didn’t know your relationship. It— she feels guilty, I think,” he admits, “I honestly don’t believe she means you any harm, Mateo.”

Lynette grips onto Mateo's hand, but let's out a sigh at his quote. Borges being right on this point isn't a comfort. "We already have one person hopping timelines to try to kill you, I really don't want to risk a second." Particularly because no one here seems certain that she doesn't want to finish the mission given to her.

"Maybe he isn't an evil bastard where she's from," she says with a shrug. It hardly matters, because the risk is the same whether he's a different man there or if Odessa only believes he is.

If it didn't include her husband, Lynette would be pretty okay with making sure there was no resurgence of Volken's loyalists. As it stands, though, she's not too keen on it.

The fact that she doesn't seem surprised at the reason Mateo had been a target is fairly telling. She looks over at her husband, her hand moving to his shoulder. "You'll have to forgive me if I don't want to risk you." Which is true, if it were up to her, this other Odessa wouldn't get as much as a glimpse at him. But her tone carries the implication that she knows it isn't up to her.

And that is a reason he could understand going after him. Especially if anyone knew half of what he’d done as Vanguard. Mateo looks toward Lynette and shakes his head a little, because they have a disagreement on this, at least. “She has no reason to kill me here. She’d lose what little support she has in this world, and— I’m not the person she was sent after, either way.”

It’s also what Richard had said, but he knows deep down that Lynette won’t see any difference. And he knows she won’t like what he decides. “I’ll go see her.”

Yeah, apparently it’s a terrible time to start rehab again. “I’ll be careful.” As if that would make a difference.

A rueful look’s directed to Lynette, Richard’s chin dipping in a slight nod. He understands, as he’d be just as protective of his loved ones were the situations reversed.

He nods a little to Mateo, then, “I really don’t think she’s a threat to you. You’re right, she has more to lose than to gain if she did anything to you. Getting you to Staten might be a little dangerous, though, with Eileen still on the loose…”

A brief pause, “Maybe a wig. Glasses?”

“Groucho Marx mustache?

It is the answer Lynette expected he'd say, that much shows in the way her brow furrows. Her eyes close. She shakes her head.

And disengages from Mateo.

"You know," she says, "you have family here, too." Hurt is shoved under a veneer of anger, as she is wont to do in times like these. Richard's thoughts on keeping him safe from Eileen might normally get some expression of amusement from her, but not today. "If you manage to come home, I'll be staying downstairs." Which she is already, but for Mateo, the words imply a deeper withdraw.

There's more she would say, but Richard being there spares him from the more personal sides of this issue. Instead, she steps around them and starts for the door. Exile starts immediately, it seems.

“‘Nette,” he whispers when she disengages and further goes on to say she’ll be staying downstairs— which yes, she already was supposed to be, but it does have a deeper meaning. That this time he might be the one on the couch. Mateo shakes his head, but doesn’t try to physically stop her, either, even if he moves a little in the direction she’s headed. “I know I have a family here. Nothing's going to happen.”

If Richard hadn’t been there, maybe he would have said more, but he doesn’t say more than that. Even if he wants to add more.

The self-imposed exile hurts them both, which isn’t what he wanted at all. But he needed to meet this woman anyway. Even if he has to meet her alone. “We’ll think of something,” he adds to Richard, though he doesn’t say he’s less worried about what Munin might do and more worried about coming home after.

“I don’t think disguises will do anything, though, so we’ll just try to be quick about it. And if we see any white birds, we’ll make sure we have some of your Banshees with us.” He did promise Lynette he’d carry the one Luther had given them, even if that is not what they had been intended for, if he ever went out.

Okay, so the Groucho Marx joke didn’t help lighten the situation.

“So, ah… just let me know when you’re free, and I’ll… make the arrangements,” says Richard as he edges closer to the exit, “I think we’ll be fine, and we’ll make it as quick as we can manage. In and out, just a conversation.”

Clearing his throat, “But I’ve got to go, I didn’t really have a lot of time, just wanted to stop by— “ He’s lying through his teeth, and it’s obvious, “— so we’ll talk later, alright?”

There is a problem with the exit. That problem is that Lynette is standing in front of it. She doesn't want to do this in front of Richard. Mateo doesn't want to do this in front of Richard. And Richard certainly doesn't want them doing this in front of him, but the chance for a graceful exit has long passed.

"Why is it," she starts in dry tone, "that I'm supposed to care about my well-being, but you don't have to care about yours? Not even a pause to consider that there is someone out there who wants you dead and that someone is wildly powerful? Maybe Eileen hasn't finished what she started because she doesn't want to keep coming into the safe zone and drawing attention to herself. Maybe she's waiting for you to make yourself vulnerable. Maybe she's very busy planting a damn rose garden to pretty up the ruins." Now she's being snarky. "We don't know anything about her plans for you."

"And you," that's you, Richard, "the two known sideways time travelers have violent ties to him and you're so ready to believe anything she tells you? How do we even know that's Odessa in there? How do we know this isn't a trap? If there's an evil bastard who can jump timelines and has an interest in being the only one who can do so, sending Odessa to lure you two gullible idiots in after straight up violence didn't work would be a smart move."

Lynette pauses there, remembers to breathe, then looks between the two of them. "Maybe everything is fine and Eileen isn't waiting to murder you both on the other end of this, but my point is that we don't know. And you're ready to waltz right out there like there's nothing wrong."

While she makes many good points as she talks, Mateo’s expression tightens, due to other points that she’s making. Due to the fact that Richard seems inclined to just leave, which he couldn’t blame him for, really. If it were Richard having an argument with his wife he probably would not have wanted to stick around for it either. “I can’t stay locked up forever, Nette,” he says, not sounding angry, just… frustrated. “And everything is wrong.”

So no, he’s not walking out as if nothing is wrong.

Instead of continuing this, though, he looks at Richard. “Might as well go now. My day’s cleared up.” Actually all his days have been pretty clear since he got shot, practically under house guard since then. He’d been fine with that—

Until he wasn’t. “I’ll be back,” he does add to his wife.

But he’s sure they’ll have a full conversation about this… at some point.

“I know for certain that it’s Odessa,” says Richard with a slight shake of his head, “Her mother vouched for that.”

Wait, what?

“I’m not just jumping into anything, either, I mean— “ Wait, what? He gives Mateo a brief deer-in-headlights look as the man suggests just jumping into things, Mateo he just said…

“Uh.” He’s never wished so badly that he had his power back than at this moment.

"I'm not asking you to stay locked up," Lynette says, running a hand back through her hair before she looks at Richard like he might help her. And then it occurs to her that he really didn't need to be here for this. "Jesus," she says on a heavy sigh. It's sort of like an apology, or at least an admittance of having committed a faux pas.

She finally moves away from the door to come over to Mateo to take his face in her hands. "I worry," she says, voice softer now, "she almost killed you. I don't want to lock you away. I don't want to keep you from your sister. I might want to keep Eileen from you, but I'm only asking that we make sure it's safe before you go running out there." Lynette turns to look back over at Richard, an eyebrow lifting. "You're sure it's her and you're sure she doesn't want to hurt him?"

Her attention comes back to Mateo before long, though, and she glances up at the ceiling— her favorite advisor even though it never has any good advice. "No debería haber gritado," she says when she looks back down at him, "Lo siento, mi amor."

What anger Mateo had had boiling under the surface seems to disappear when she touches him. After a moment he nods, leaning forward a little to press their foreheads together. A quiet way of accepting her apology as well as… “Yo también.” Because he is sorry too, sorry for certain things that he’d said, though he wouldn’t exactly take them back. He is tired of hiding.

Even if he understands why. It’s still the same result.

After a second, he pulls back and looks toward Richard. “I’ll stop by later. Will try to call ahead first.” But they all know how phones can be around here.

“I think that’s… a good idea,” Richard allows, his lips tugging up a bit at one corner as he steps carefully to pass them, “I think the two of you probably have a lot to talk about.” Very little of which, he suspects, has to do with him or this ‘visit’ at all.

“You know where to find me— and yeah, Lynette,” he nods to her, a faint smile, “It’s her. A version of her, anyway. And she doesn’t mean him a bit of harm, I can promise that.”

Eileen’s another story.

“Ruskin should stay away for now, we have a— temporary truce,” he admits, distaste in his tone, “For now.”

Lynette closes her eyes when their foreheads touch, apologies given and accepted in both directions. Richard isn't wrong that they have things to talk about, and that that should probably happen without an audience.

She looks back to him, though, giving him a nod as to his opinion of this other Odessa. She's not set on arguing the point just now, at the very least. "We'll see you soon," she says, because there's little doubt of that. Maybe it will even be for a normal social call. Stranger things have happened.

* * *

"I can give you my loneliness, my darkness, the hunger of my heart; I am trying to bribe you with uncertainty, with danger, with defeat." — Jorge Luis Borges

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