Everything You Touch



Scene Title Everything You Touch
Synopsis Lynette's past returns to haunt her. Also included: A grave warning about the future.
Date August 15, 2018

Red Hook Market

Since reentering rehab, Lynette's been even more reluctant to leave the Benchmark than she already was. Which is really something. But even a hermit such as herself needs to get out every so often, particularly when errands pile up. She dressed casually, she's got some bags with her, and her steps head in the direction of the Red Hook Market. Her hair's even pulled back into a ponytail, so clearly she's taking her shopping seriously today.

Fireflies wink in and out of existence in the humid evening air, which is hazy and orange, thick with the promise of rain. The forecast predicts a thunderstorm some time after sunset, leaving Lynette only a small window of time to cross off as many items on her to-do list as she can before the sky opens up and drenches the Safe Zone in several inches of much-needed rain.

There are others out on the streets, all with a similar mindset, baskets bundled under arms or affixed to the front of bicycles that weave their lazy way through the neighborhood's dense pedestrian traffic. Among them are familiar, plainly-dressed figures with their heads covered by straw hats and large black bonnets. They travel both by foot and by buggy. Lynette does not have to turn her head to know when one is coming up behind her; the drum of the horse's hooves on the pavement gives her plenty of warning to skirt sideways and get out of the way.

Not that she needs to. The Amish families that make the weekly journey from New Jersey's Pine Barrens all the way to the Red Hook Market to sell their wares are mindful of their surroundings, and Lynette cannot think of a single accident involving either horse or buggy in spite of the market's crowded surroundings, or the narrow roads leading up to the building that was once Textile Factory 17.

It's possible that Lynette ignored the forecast. More likely, though, it's the promise of thunder that got her out of the apartment. There is, after all, something familiar about the build up to lightning. Something comforting in its occasional inevitability.

And she has no reason to fear an electrical storm.

The sound of horses does get her to move to the side, glancing over to watch the carts roll past. It's encouraging, since usually that means there's something different in the market. Until they sell out, anyway.

One of the men tips his hat to Lynette as the buggy rumbles past — or maybe that's the distant sound of thunder she so longs for.

She follows the family through the market's gates and inside the labyrinthine maze of brick corridors where rumour has it she can find anything.

She passes an old secondhand bookstore that smells like a moldering library, and passes under an archway covered in living vines and fairy lights modeled after the fireflies outside. Vendors pushing fresh vegetables from small plots of land inside the Safe Zone's borders weigh out their produce on old-fashioned scales in the absence of reliable electricity. Others sell their goods by the bag: fresh lettuce, velvety apricots and peaches, carrots still flecked with dirt.

She could get lost down here.

Maybe she wants to.

There's something comforting in that, too. In mazes. In getting lost. Lynette takes a moment to survey the stalls and sellers. The books hold a certain temptation, but she heads toward the food first. Books later. She has an actual list somewhere on her, tucked into a pocket, but she doesn't really need it. It's a little domestic, grocery lists and errands, something she's still adjusting to.

Vegetables and fruit come first, in a mix of practical needs and indulgences when something hard to find pops up. And the regulars around here know that if they have coffee for sale, she'll buy as much of it as she can carry.


The name comes from ten feet behind Lynette, to the left. Perfectly enunciated, although spoken in a voice the blonde does not recognize, and easy to pick out from the rest of the ambient noise swirling in the corridor around them.

Footsteps on cobblestones, out of synch with one another. A child’s squealing laughter. Music, faraway, some sort of string instrument that Lynette’s ear judges to be a fiddle — or maybe a violin.


What matters is the voice and the click of a pistol hammer being pulled back immediately after.

Whipping around at the name, Lynette scans the crowds with a quick glance. It's a name that is both her and… not her. Distant and familiar at the same time. Strange and intimate together. It also calls to mind a specific moment in time, something far from errands and markets and a family at home waiting for her.

The pistol doesn't help, either.

One thing is certain, once she hears it, she doesn't stand around looking for the source. She moves. Weaving through the other people gathered in the market, trying to disappear among them until she can get clear of them entirely.

She's not entirely sure someone willing to brandish a weapon in an open market wouldn't be willing to also shoot through it.

She’s not wrong.

The crack of the gunshot that follows has people ducking, shielding their faces and heads with their arms, hands, baskets, or anything else they might be carrying, whether it’s a purse or a paper bag filled with groceries to the point of breaking. Others drop all the way to the ground, or duck into storefronts that have shelves they can tuck themselves behind, or metal doors that can be rolled down after them.

Two more shots ring out in quick succession. Both go wide, missing Lynette by several feet, and while she might not be sticking around to find out what they hit instead, the papers are sure to cover it in the morning.

“Zeus!” the voice shouts again. “Where’s Nemesis!”

When the first shot rings out, Lynette picks up her pace to a run. She has to dodge tripping over a couple people who hit the deck. Luckily, she wore sensible shoes today. Once it's clear that the shots are likely to continue, she ducks into a storefront as well, to tuck herself behind something a little sturdier than her bags.

Of course, she's not the only one doing that. She looks at the other people huddled here, but resists a groan. Instead, she nods them deeper into the room. "Get further back. Get behind something." Lynette sets her bag down, then, because she'd rather it not get shot to pieces, even if it isn't her who ends up with it when this is all over. No one likes lead-filled vegetables.

It takes a moment for the voice's demand to settle into her mind, but it gets there.

And leaves her confused.

She pulls out her phone, even though she knows it's not likely that Nicole will get the message in anything like a timely manner.

Who have you been pissing off lately?

It isn't meant to summon the calvary in any case.

"Stop shooting," she calls out from her bit of cover, "and maybe we can talk about it."

The gunman stops shooting. It quickly becomes apparent, however, that the pause in the gunfire has nothing to do with Lynette’s request and everything to do with the fact that he’s lost his line of sight.

People make way, parting like a Biblical ocean as he moves down the corridor on Lynette’s trail. His steps are slow, deliberate, patient. He walks like a man whose next few minutes will feel like all the time in the world, because it’s taken him years to get to this exact moment in time.

He’s tall. Young. Late twenties, early thirties. Gaunt in the way that many young men were after the war. Gaunt in the way that many young men who served in the war still are.

Some appetites never fully recover.

“Pegasus,” he answers. “Hermes. Ares.”


It's a word barely spoken at all, but emphatic all the same. Lynette squeezes her eyes closed, but they open quickly enough— only half because she's in danger and should be paying attention. The other half is motivated by the ghosts conjured by their names lingering in the dark behind her closed eyes. Two sides of her play tug-o-war in the moments that follow. The side steeped in guilt and the side that scrambles for survival.

At any cost, sometimes.

Which is the problem.

Instead of giving into either, she glances down to her phone and pushes both of those sides down.

Oh, nvm. Not lately.
When did we get this good at pissing people off anyway?

It's a shield of a kind and it lets Lynette lift her head as she pockets her phone. "And which one are you? Hephaestus?" That's sarcastic, too. Deeply. Not an unfamiliar tone to anyone who's spent time around her.

“Everything you touch,” the gunman answers, “you destroy.” He comes around the corner, glimpsing Lynette’s crouched form half-hidden behind the storefront’s shelving. Collections of small porcelain animals with plastic stickers for price tags stare at her from an adjacent row. If she glances up, even for a moment, the crystal pendants of half a dozen cheap-looking chandeliers in varying states of disrepair wink back like a dilapidated sea of dusty stars.

She’s in a rundown thrift shop of some kind, albeit a chic one.

Behind the counter, encased in glass, she spies a vintage shotgun hung upon the wall.

The gunman hesitates, shifting his weight from one foot to the other as he tries to look around the shelving and pinpoint Lynette’s location, struggling to line up a clear shot.

“Your entire unit,” he continues. “The Olympians. That was you. Before that, you worked with the Ferrymen. Councilwoman Rowan. Media darling, no matter how many massacres you failed to prevent, no matter how many people around you died so you could live. You really think you’re a hero?”

Those accusations strike a sore spot. They're words she's said to herself, thoughts she's wallowed in for years. She doesn't necessarily disagree with him.

Her head tips back, because she always looking to the ceiling for answers. It doesn't usually help. Today it does. She blinks at the chandeliers, then looks at the shelves around her. She didn't really notice what shop she took shelter in. Slinking along the aisle, she makes her way to a larger figurine. Fingers wrap around a painted tiger and she pulls it from the shelf as quietly as she can manage.

That he keeps talking helps her keep his position in mind. But she doesn't say anything. Not yet. Instead, she works on sneaking up behind him.

The gunman zeroes in on the shape that he thinks is Lynette.

It isn’t.

His footsteps carry him around the shelving unit that she’d been positioned behind just a few moments ago, and toward the desk with the gun mounted behind it, where he can see the shadow of the shop owner huddled with her back to the wall.

He never thinks to look behind him, preoccupied as he is.

“There’s a reckoning coming,” he states, raising the pistol. “You think you can sweep the past under a rug all tidy-like, but you can’t. You and Nemesis. All your old friends with the Ferry, its council. Sumter. Beauchamp. Chesterfield. Matheson. Zimmerman. Gitelman. Ryans. Young. Epstein. Childs. Don’t think those of us you failed have forgotten your names.”

When she sees him heading for the shop owner's hiding spot, Lynette hurries to catch up to the gunman.

"A reckoning?" she echoes, her voice sounding from just behind him. "Well, that sounds very impressive." Warning given— such as it is, Lynette swings the figurine at the side of his head. She doesn't seem entirely sold on it being enough to stop him, instead, she uses it as a distraction so she can grab his arm and the gun in an attempt to wrestle the gun away from him.

Porcelain shatters.

Dazed, the gunman is half a second too late to stop Lynette from seizing him by the arm. But he’s strong, powerfully built with broad shoulders and a grip that feels, at least to Lynette, as solid as iron.

Maybe because it is.

A surge of superhuman strength hauls Lynette’s feet off the ground with ragdoll-like ease and flings her over the counter. Her body collides with the glass case, crumpling it on impact. Pieces of broken glass tinkle to the floor and bounce off the counter’s surface. Others sprinkle the shop owner’s hair, even as she tries to shield her head and face.

The rifle comes down, too, knocked loose from its hooks, but does not discharge on impact because it isn’t loaded. Instead it lands across Lynette’s back where she’s sprawled out on the floor behind the counter. Blood runs down her arms where the edges of the glass have split open her skin. If it wasn’t for the sensation of warmth, or the stickiness gathering between her fingers, she might not realize she’s injured at all; the adrenaline coursing through her system gives her the steadiness and strength to push herself back up again at the same time her attacker is climbing over the counter, pistol at the ready.

Not that he needs it.

Not that he intends to use it now that he’s this close.

Not when he can crush the life out of her body using only his hands.

The collision is clearly not what Lynette was expecting. She hits the case and then the ground with a surprised gasp and a grunt and starts pulling herself up before she's properly oriented herself. Blood, attacker, glass— they're all noted, but she ends up focused on the shopkeep crouched back here with her.

"Run. Call SESA."

Lynette, of course, has no intention of running herself. No, as Mr. Universe vaults the counter, she stands to her feet and puts herself between him and the civilian. Her hands brush glass off her clothes and straighten her shirt as if nothing all that serious were wrong. As if she isn't smudging her clothes with her own blood. "That wasn't very conducive to discourse, now was it?" Her tone is chiding, infuriatingly so, and her hands move to her hips. But however calm she appears, electricity is sparking through her hair, flashes of white that tell her she needs to keep herself in check but that she hopes appear more threatening than telling to her opponent.

The shopkeeper meets Lynette’s gaze only for the time it takes for the blonde to impart her message. She nods, once, in a strange, dissociative sort of understanding as she shambles to her feet and takes advantage of the distraction. Her feet crumple broken glass and track Lynette’s blood to the back of the store, where she disappears behind another set of shelves similar to the one Lynette had initially taken cover behind.

She doesn’t hear the shopkeeper vanish out the back — no jingle of keys or slammed door — but it’s probably a safe assumption that she’s escaped via one of the adjacent corridors that only the market’s tenants have access to.

Meanwhile, someone else has already placed a call; over the sound of her own breathing and the heavier huffing and puffing of the man opposite her, she hears the distant wail of military police sirens.

He makes another grab for her. Misses. Not because he isn’t close enough, but because he’s confounded by the sparkle and snap of energy that Lynette appears to implode into.

That energy reforms behind him in a flash, back to Lynette. Her reaches her hand out to the back of his neck, a shock of electricity coming with it. She's careful— she doesn't want to kill him, but she does want him down and that comes with a certain amount of pain.

"Whoever you are, whatever you lost… I'm sorry," she says, her voice low enough that it's likely he won't hear it at all. But still, she means it. "This isn't the way, though." Mostly because Lynette doesn't go down easy.

She tilts her head at the sound of sirens and has to fight the urge to run, long ingrained, kneejerk reaction to such a sound. Not anymore, she has to remind herself.

If her aggressor comprehends her words, it doesn’t show on his face.

The only thing that shows on his face is pain.

A uniformed soldier, assault rifle level with Lynette’s center of mass, rounds the corner. Not anymore, she’d told herself. And yet—

The soldier’s weapon is pointed at her.

It becomes difficult for Lynette to differentiate the difference between not anymore and now, to know whether it’s 2018 or 2011, for her mind to separate the ruined interior of the market’s bookstore from the smoky remains of Bannerman’s Castle. The soldier barks an order at her that sounds like GET DOWN.

A soldier had shouted that at her then, too. She remembers the explosion of blood that blossomed from the center of his chest and the accompanying boom of a shotgun’s report and muzzle flash. Nicole’s hand on her arm. Ryans shouldering his weapon as Huruma steered the stragglers toward the shore’s vague outline ahead.

Whose idea had the boats been?

She doesn’t even remember.

Can’t remember.


When the rifle is pointed her way, Lynette jumps back from the man and puts her hands in the air. Confusion is the first reaction, but it gets so much worse as smoke creeps in and the husk of her former home pushes out the store. The market, the attacker, they might as well not have existed at all.

She glances over to Nicole, far too pregnant to be involved in an escape like this one, then over to Huruma and her collection of escapees.

"We have to clear a path," she says, to Ryans, before she moves to do just that. Climbing over crumbling walls, she makes her way through the smoke until she can break into a run. Her hands spark with the only warning she's likely to give any of Heller's men, not when they stand between her and the shoreline.

GET DOWN,” the voice bellows again as Lynette’s hands erupt in searing white-blue light. It could belong to anyone — except herself. “THIS IS YOUR LAST WARNING.

There’s another crack of gunshot, closer this time, because it isn’t the thunder of Ryans’ shotgun, because it doesn’t exist inside Lynette’s memories.

Because it’s real.

The bullet enters through her shoulder and exits out the other side. Pain, real pain, snaps her back to the bookshop’s interior as the impact knocks her to the floor, not far from where her attacker bleeds out, two identical wounds of his own square in the center of his barrel-shaped chest.

The Safe Zone is supposed to be safe. It’s easy for most of its inhabitants to forget that it isn’t always, that sometimes the soldiers who are meant to protect them get scared, too.

The panicked officer who put two holes in Lynette’s attacker and one in Lynette herself lets his aim follow her to the floor. Sparks zip and fly off her felled body with a terrible sound and energy that might paralyze a man who wasn’t already holding a weapon with which to defend himself.

He isn’t thinking about whether she’s the perpetrator or the victim.

He isn’t thinking about his job.

He isn’t thinking about the media shitstorm that will descend upon him and everyone he knows if he kills a war hero.

He isn’t thinking about how what he does in the next two seconds will dictate the course of the rest of his life — and hers, unless it ends here.

He isn’t thinking.

His finger starts to contract around the trigger too late. By the time he’s made the decision to discharge the weapon, the right side of his face flies apart, splattering Lynette’s front with fragments of bone and obliterated brain matter.

Hitting the floor with a groan, Lynette takes a moment to reorient herself. She can't quite remember… how she got here. The haze clears when she looks over and sees her attacker there, bleeding and worse off than she is. The day clicks into place. Not a frantic escape from a military siege. Just a man. A troubled man. She takes in a few deep breaths. "Cahuenga Boulevard," she says to herself, "Selma Avenue." Just a small mantra, something to bring her back to now, to bring her back to calmness.

She moves to sit up, slowly and with one hand raised. Now without the sparking she was sporting a few moments ago. She doesn't get all the way to standing before he gets attacked himself. She has the presence of mind to turn her face away, so the splatter misses her face for the most part.

Lynette's attention turns briefly toward her attacker, then she moves over to pull off her jacket to press it against his wounds. Possibly a futile hope, but still. She tries. Only when she's seen to him does she turn to look for whoever just stepped in.

She doesn’t have to look far.

A gloved hand that belongs to neither Nicole nor Ryans helps her to her feet. “This way,” is Eileen Ruskin’s suggestion, as she eases Lynette toward the bookshop’s back door. The splash of gore that missed the blonde stands out against the Briton’s pale skin and shines dark in her hair; if Lynette looks for it, she’ll see the corner of her mouth hook down around a sneer that shows teeth.

Her voice is tight, her actions harried. Judging from how close she must have been to the soldier to be covered in the blowback, her decision to intervene was one based on emotion and impulse rather than logic.

“I’m not going to hurt you,” she adds, like it’s an afterthought and not a promise.


Of all the markets in all the safe zones in all the world.

Lynette stares for a moment, like she assumes Eileen is going to disappear right along with Bannerman island. But she reaches out with her good arm and takes her hand to accept the help up to her feet.

"I know you're not," comes with more bravado than it should, but there's a layer of confusion that takes away the sting of her words. "He's going to die if we doing get him help," she says, more genuinely, with a gesture to the man who was just trying to kill her not that long ago. Her words also imply that Eileen should care about this, for reasons she's not quite sure of herself.

Eileen pauses on the rear exit’s threshold, twisting a look back over her shoulder at Lynette’s attacker. She watches the rise and fall of his chest and listens, catlike, to his rattling breath and faint patter of his heartbeat. Unseen, her ability reaches out, passively licking at the dying man’s aura in an attempt to assess his condition without affecting it.

When she looks back at Lynette, the absence of light makes it impossible to judge the colour of her eyes even though the other woman knows they aren’t the stormy gray-green she remembers.

She decides to lie.

“You can’t save him,” she says. “He’s gone no matter what you do.”

Tipping her head back, Lynette lets out a heavy sigh. It isn't what she wanted to hear, but perhaps it is what she expected. She looks back at him, then around at the shop they're standing in, then to Eileen.

"Alright," Lynette says with obvious reluctance, "which way is out?"

The idea that she might be lying doesn't seem to hit Lynette as a possibility. And finally, she casts a look at her own shoulder, making a sound that is more annoyed than anything now that she has to acknowledge the wound. "I really liked this blouse. It's the only one I have that matches these shoes," she says, a statement that probably isn't true, but feels true in the moment. It's easier to worry about her wardrobe than herself, in any case.

“I don’t know,” Eileen admits, “I’ve been making this up as I go along.”

While they’re being truthful.

Military police sirens echo in the corridor’s narrow confines as Eileen leads Lynette in the direction she imagines is out, one hand near her companion, the other still holding her pistol loose but ready at her side. She shrugs off her coat at the shoulder and slithers out of it without slowing her gait or taking her eyes off the sliver of light opening far ahead of them.

“Here,” she offers, after using a sleeve to smear most of the mess off her cheek and what’s gathered in her hairline. “Black camouflages blood, but don’t leave yours. Not yet. Too many psychometers.”

It's good advice, and Lynette makes sure to gather her things before she follows along. No reason to have her involvement known in exacting detail. Luckily, she didn't bring a lot with her in the first place. She's on Eileen's heels in no time, attention on the rear, just in case.

The admission gets a laugh. Just a soft chuckle, but it's there. Aren't we all is in her expression, rather than spoken.

Lynette takes the coat, picking the other sleeve to try to clean herself off with. It might occur to her later that she should be more upset about being covered in someone else's brain and blood, but for now, it's like an old pair of jeans that you can slide right back into.

"Why are you helping me?" she asks, because the strangeness of that occurred to her some time ago.

“Benchmark.” Eileen’s syllables are bright and clean. “Other people need you.”

Mateo needs her, too, even if Eileen probably doesn’t count him among them.

As they approach the outside, the drum of new rain bouncing off the pavement joins the sirens and their echoing footsteps. There’s the murmur of a rapidly ballooning crowd, too, and a compact sea of bodies is the first sight that greets Lynette. Eileen steps out first, this time without hesitating, and tucks her pistol — safety on — into the back of her own jeans, which sit high on her narrow waist.

When Lynette follows her, the thundershower washes over her skin and hair, and saturates both Eileen’s coat and the blood-soaked material of her blouse beneath. It feels warm, comfortable, a natural complement to the humid summer air. The sun has set since the last time she looked at the sky; a cursory glance around reveals that the glow at the end of the corridor belongs to the string lights and glass lanterns strung up outside and designed to stand up against even the most inclement East Coast weather.

Eileen blinks away rainwater, considering their next move with a distant expression that fits in with the disoriented crowd around them. “Do you know someone who might be able to take a look at that shoulder?” she asks. “Preferably without the paperwork.”

"That's bullshit," Lynette says, which is what she would like to say every time someone cites the Benchmark at her. Only Eileen gets the pleasure of Lynette's actual thoughts.

When they step out, Lynette nearly steps back in again at the sight of all those bodies. But she doesn't, just a hitch in her stride gives it away. Her eyes close when the rain hits her, taking the odd comfort of the summer storm while it lasts. And does her best to look like she isn't sporting a fresh wound. Eileen's question brings her attention back around. This time, her sigh is a more thoughtful one. "Actually," she says, a bit dryly, "I do." She glances back toward the crowd, frowning at the implication of a lot of people attending to a train wreck. "We'll need to get somewhere where the phones will work."

Probably not here, where everyone is likely to be trying to contact someone.

The Benchmark Recovery and Counseling Center

After finding a spot where her cell actually worked and making a quick phone call, Lynette and Eileen have ended up back at the Benchmark. Back in Lynette's office, which is plush and comfortable, and has both first aid supplies and a gun safe. So, it makes a strange first impression.

The receptionist knows to look for Jim's arrival and points him in the right direction when he gets there. The door's been left open, even, although whether that's because Lynette is leaving it open for him or because she was in a hurry to get back here— who can say. What is clear, once he's there, is that the phone call was much too calm for what he walks in on. Lynette leans against her desk in jeans and a tank top— bloody blouse has been exchanged it seems— arms covered in cuts from broken glass, jeans cut here and there, and a gunshot wound through her shoulder. She hasn't gotten around to removing any bits of glass still stuck, instead, she's trying to get her shoulder to stop bleeding.

Say this for Jim, he doesn’t waste any time. He’s there about as quickly as one could expect him to get there, and he also doesn’t look like he’s been surprised by the call. Of course, he did have some time to put his game face on, so, there’s that. Once he’s shown into the office, he shuts the door behind him, turning to survey the scene. Which is, of course, mostly Lynette at the moment. “You know,” he says as he starts toward her, “when I said I freelanced, I didn’t mean to imply I was hard up for cash. That’s on me. You don’t need to go inventing things for me to do.” His tone is just a little wry at that, but even before he’s finished he’s already close enough to start to examine the wound in her shoulder. He doesn’t bother with the bits of glass either, at least not before the main issue is seen to.

Once he’s gotten a cursory look at the wound, he sets his own kit on the desk and opens it up quickly, grabbing a bandage. Clearly his have magical powers or something (if only!). “Are you still with us?” he asks as he starts to press some gauze against it to help with the blood. “Not thinking about taking a nap or anything?”


At some point during his gentle interrogation of Lynette, Jim will become aware of a third presence in the room: small, unobtrusive, wan. Eileen’s shape is easy to miss at first glance; her body molds to the shape of the window frame where she’s perched, back flush against one side and booted foot braced against the other. The glass is cracked, allowing the sound of the storm outside to leak into the office, carrying with it the smell of ozone and wet asphalt.

It’s almost enough to overpower the less subtle notes of tobacco and smoke, a lit cigarette dangling from between two gloved fingers. (Sorry, Lynette.)

She regards Jim’s reflection in the window pane in front of her rather than rotate her body to get a better look at him. Her focus is instead on the street below.

When he enters, Lynette looks over his way and manages a soft huff of a laugh at his words. "Consider this an initiation, rather than a bone thrown at you," she says, dry like she knows that is probably worse. She is, at least, a good patient, letting him have a look at the wound and staying as still as she can manage. There is a glance cast Eileen's way— or maybe the cigarette's way— but she doesn't introduce the odd woman sharing the room with them. Nor does she introduce Jim to her.

"I'm lucid," she says, to his questions, pausing only to hiss lightly at the pressure, "just have a hole through me." That's the big one, anyway. "Thanks for coming," she adds, that sounding much more sincere.

It takes him a little while — but yes, eventually Jim does take note of Eileen. At least, consciously. It may have been that he took note of her in the way that someone assessing a scene takes note of someone or something there, but it doesn’t register until the immediate needs are past. Hopefully he’ll be forgiven, under the circumstances. “Hey,” he says with a nod to her, but it’s perfunctory, though certainly friendly enough. Just…yes. Distracted.

He hasn’t really looked away from his current task, though, and when Lynette speaks, a snort escapes him, only about half amused. The other half we’ll leave to the imagination. “Thanks,” he says, pressing a little bit harder, though he does gauge her reaction as he goes, probably noting pain levels. The expression does soften a little bit at her expression of gratitude, though. “Sure. I don’t need to sleep.” There’s a little tilt to the smile, but the tease is mostly gentle as he starts to wrap up the wound, assisting her with lifting the arm over her head as he does. “So, fun night, then?” Now that the main issue has been seen to, he turns to Eileen again, directing the question at either of them, even if it’s not really much more than rhetorical.

“Bachelorette party.”

That’s a joke.

Jim knows because Lynette already wears a wedding ring, but also because the Englishwoman’s tone isn’t entirely without mirth. Rivulets of rainwater trailing down the other side of the glass obscures Eileen’s face; she might even be smiling.

Dutifully, Lynette follows Jim's directions while he works on tending to her wound, since making this harder on him would be a real jerk move. She does her best not to react to the pain of moving her arm or getting bandaged up, which is a lot harder without adrenaline pumping through her system. "You're an ER nurse, do you even remember sleep?" Lynette takes the teasing with a slight smile and a return volley.

So when Eileen answers and Lynette squeezes her eyes shut instead of joining in, it's an obvious shift. But she looks back to Jim with a lift of her eyebrow. "You'll hear about it in the paper tomorrow, no doubt." A beat passes, then she looks— for a moment— resigned before she adds, "Pretty typical, for our parties." Which is also a joke.

Hey, look, we’re already laughing about it! That must mean everything’s going to be fine, right? And indeed, Eileen’s joke does get a laugh from Jim as he finishes up the bandaging. At least he works quickly. “No one’s supposed to get shot until the wedding,” he says as he turns to his kit again, pulling out some tweezers. “I’m pretty sure that’s a rule.” He starts to deal with the glass then, since while that might not have been the most pressing issue, it can’t have been comfortable.

“I’ll be sure to keep an eye out.” Ping. Ping. The shards hit the bottom of the little container that might once have held bandaids or something similar, but now will go to its reward with Lynette blood all over it. “If I ever get an invitation that’s not for coming to patch someone up, I hope you won’t be offended if I decline.” His eyes flick up to Lynette’s for a moment, before he continues the quick work of making her less like some bizzare piece of performance art. Woman from Glass House, Sans Stone. It, too, doesn’t take long, and soon enough he’s applying smaller bandages to the largest of the cuts. “You have any of the good stuff?” he asks. “If not I’ll leave you some to get you through the worst of it.”

“Would you draft up a prescription for a course of antibiotics, too?” This from Eileen rather than Lynette. Satisfied that the military police aren’t about to roll up on the facility with both lights and sirens off, she turns to glance back over her shoulder and taps a quarter inch worth of cigarette ash out the open window. Smoke leaks from her nostrils and the thin part of her mouth.


The please is implicit when left unspoken, she thinks, but it’s kinder if said out loud.

Well, that's awkward. "I can't take the good stuff," Lynette says, looking at the bandages rather than Jim himself, "I'm an addict. But I will take the antibiotics, if they're on offer." She will make do with the sub par pain medications. She also looks back to Eileen, almost like she's studying her. Which she is, in a way.

Their relationship has gotten complicated again, all of a sudden.

Taking in a breath, she turns back to Jim. "Let me know what I owe you, I'll make sure you get it," she says, fingers prodding at her bandage already. Just idly, though, like she's getting used to it being there.

“Will do,” Jim confirms for Eileen as he gets the last laceration all fixed up and covered nicely, before he steps back, surveying his handiwork and making sure that there’s nothing else that needs to be done. Then he rummages a little in the kit for a prescription pad, and reaches into his pocket for a pen. The former looks a little bit beat up, as though he’s either had it for a while or someone else has, but that probably doesn’t matter in the grand scheme. As long as it’s legit. Or legit enough.

Lynette’s words make him look up, though, but he certainly doesn’t argue, or probe further, either. He just continues after a moment, “All right. Antibiotics I can do.” He finishes the note with an illegible flourish and rips it off the top, setting it down on a convenient surface. “Don’t worry about it. First one’s free. That’s how I get ‘em hooked.” He grins, cutting another look to Eileen then. “Make sure to tell your friends.” He turns back to Lynette then, “If you don’t have anyone to change the bandage, come by Herkimer and see me day after tomorrow. 10J. I should be home by 8.” He does look back at Eileen momentarily with a tacit question, but of course, one doesn’t want to presume. “If you do, then great.”

On the other side of the room Eileen’s eyes are dark and contemplative. Whether Jim recognizes it or not, she mentally files away his address for later consideration.

“Then great,” she echoes, sounding a little hollow. The, “Thank you,” that immediately follows it possesses more feeling and sincerity. Her attention shifts to Lynette, guarded, cagey — complicated. Limbs unfold with the slow but decisive precision of a spider opening its body upon its web as she rises from the sill.

“Some day soon,” she tells Lynette, “someone may approach your husband about using his ability. They’ll frame it as a service for the greater good, but if you look closely you’ll see that their interests are entirely self-serving.” No names named; either Eileen doesn’t yet know who she’s referring to, or she’s reluctant to get into specifics with their current company. The quiet care with which she treats her words, vague though they are, suggests the former.

“Be sure he tells them no, for his own sake. And yours.”

Lynette lifts an eyebrow at the joke. It seems to fall a little flat. Perhaps it's her. Or their location. But she gives Jim a nod all the same. "Thank you," she says, bypassing any other reaction to his statement, "hopefully I won't need to call on you again." She also doesn't mention whether or not she has someone who can help her with the bandages, but perhaps she thinks the answer is obvious.

Or maybe she's distracted.

When Eileen moves, Lynette looks her way. Her expression turning flat. But that's only until she mentions her husband and his ability and this future favor. That she seems to take seriously, at least, her head tilting in contemplation. "You know I don't like things that put Mateo in danger," she says, because Eileen certainly does know, although the statement lacks any real accusation. This time. "If it means he'll be safe," she adds, her look a little more pointed, because she's not talking about some unnamed someone, "then consider it taken care of."

“Well, great.” Jim starts to pack up his stuff then, nodding to the thanks from Eileen. “You’re welcome.” He looks back toward Lynette again just in time to catch the little reaction to the joke, and it takes him a second, but then there’s a little wince as he realizes what he just said, and the current context. Oops. However, he doesn’t make it worse by dwelling on it, instead just gives her an apologetic look, and says, “Have a good night.” He turns then, heading for the door, before he can say anything else ill-advised. That’s a minefield he’s not equipped for at the moment.

Only after Jim and his retreating footsteps are gone does Eileen ask, “Do you trust him?”

The implication being that if she doesn’t, they’re still in a position to do something about it while he’s navigating the hallway on his way out the front door and into the deluge waiting for him outside.

This, at least, is familiar to Lynette. Eileen’s suspicion. The subtle shift in her body language that indicates she’s ready to transition from passive observer to active participant for the second time this evening, but only if the other woman wills it.

The words, the implication, they get Lynette's furrowed brow in response. "He's fine," she says after a beat. It's her own natural inclination towards paranoia that causes her to add to that statement. "So far." But either way, the man is spared. At least while Lynette has any sway over it.

She turns back to Eileen then, hand moving to brace against the desk. "Is that why you wanted to kill him? To keep him from using his ability?" She's heard the theories as to Eileen's motivations, but she seems to want Eileen to speak for herself.

Eileen hesitates.

That’s less familiar.

“The less I say,” she answers, “the easier this is to understand.” She tips a look down at her fingers and flexes them through the thin calfskin gloves she wears on her hands. “Mateo’s ability doesn’t just create doorways — it also opens them. He can’t always know what’s on the other side. There are people, and— things capable of taking advantage of that blind spot, and I’ve experienced firsthand what happens when they do.”

"He can hop timelines," Lynette says, to prove she has some grasp of the situation already, "or has the potential to. Mine hasn't, but I met another him from another place. A long time ago." That's her giving a little, her expression less flat. "If you're anything like our Eileen, then I know you think militant. Decisive. Ruthless. She kept us alive that way. I learned to think that way from her. Got me through a war. But this doesn't have to be like that. We can figure this out." That's her giving a lot. It shows in her face, that she considers herself out on a limb. Possibly one with a tiger under it, waiting for her to slip.

She pauses, considering Eileen for a long moment. Things that are the same, things that aren't. Her brow furrows, but with concern this time, poorly masked.

"What happened?"

Eileen stays true to her warning; she keeps explanations simple, succinct. No hesitation, this time.

“I lost more than your Eileen did,” she says.

Lynette’s description of her other half, what she considers to be her lesser half, draws out a smile that isn’t hidden by rainwater or strange reflections in the window, since she’s moving away from it. “I’ve seen her memories of you,” she continues, steering the conversation backwards to a less painful point, “Councilwoman Rowan. The way she kept you and Zimmerman and the others at arm’s-length because was convinced it would protect you from who she really was. Too nearsighted to see that the only person she was actually trying to protect was herself.

“We don’t have talent for real friendships except with other people who are as vain and fucked up as us. We’re too proud. And you’re too good. I wasn’t lying when I told you Benchmark.”

“Eileen,” Lynette says, looking almost amused as she glances her way, “when you shot Mateo, I came and killed you. I’m not sure ‘good’ applies. I’m faking it and hoping it sticks eventually.” She waves her good hand around the room, this whole endeavor being part of the attempt. And, of course, because she needs it, too.

“That man in the market, he said I ruin everything I touch. He wasn’t wrong,” she says, matter-of-fact about the subject. “Eventually all this will be ruined, too, in all likelihood.”

She looks back toward the door, letting out a gentle sigh. “I’m sorry. That you’ve lost so much.” She seems to recall the impression that Eileen, her Eileen, had lost more than enough. “Whatever happened, neither Mateo nor I want to add to it, or repeat it.”

“I know.”

If what Lynette says is true, and they are alike, Eileen suspects that no amount of reassuring Lynette of the contrary will make a difference. Fatalists: It takes one to know one.

Sans bloodied coat, she crosses the rest of the way to the door and reaches up to fleetingly grip at its frame. She looks down the hall the direction that Jim had disappeared and has experiences another moment of tense indecision as she considers the situation they’ve found themselves in — from both sides, best as she’s able, which is difficult for someone as set in her ways as Eileen is.

As set in her ways as Lynette is.

“Good night,” she murmurs, instead of goodbye, because good night implies I’ll see you again soon.

Lynette watches Eileen move, fingers tapping lightly against her desk. But she doesn't stop her or ask her to stay, as pensive as she might look about her leaving. It's complicated. A notion that makes Lynette rub at the bridge of her nose. Because it would be easier if it were simple again.

"Good night," she repeats, accepting of the implication, returning it without a second thought. One way or they other, they would be seeing one another again. "Thank you," she adds, quiet, like she isn't sure she wants Eileen to hear, and yet, feels the need to make sure it's said.

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