First Sparks


wf_lynette_icon.gif vf_ruiz_icon3.gif

Scene Title First Sparks
Synopsis Ruiz needs some training in how to handle his newly acquired ability.
Date November 9, 2017

Resistance Training Area

Lynette has made it perfectly clear that she's not thrilled to have Mateo here. But still, she didn't balk at the idea of training him herself, if only because an untrained electrokinetic puts every one of them in danger. The discomfort lingers, and Lynette doesn't seem to be able to quite look at him. Not directly.

The room she has him in is small, as the Resistance doesn't have much of anything to spare, including space. But this is clearly a practice room, with makeshift dummies and burn spots on the walls, bits of shattered debris swept to the corners. There's also a cot, because it isn't too strange for someone to pass out using their powers in here.

"Okay, so," she says, shutting the door behind them, "you know the basics, right? Your power— the old one— taught you about how much electricity is all around you." It's not really a question. She knows it did. "So we'll skip ahead. The thing about my power, her power, is keeping a tight rein on it. All the time. It'll become second nature, but it's work at the beginning. If you're not vigilant, you'll pull in everything or leak out everything. Anything distracting is a problem. Emotions especially. Lose your focus, then you lose your hold. Then you're blowing out transformers and car batteries and whatever else. Make sense?" There's a sense to that question, like she's opening the floor for him to ask his own questions, if he has any in mind. Some people might miss it, given that her tone is short and blunt, but he's familiar with it— even if it's been years.

"Yeah, I know the basics, I guess. It's… still very different." Ruiz doesn't want to pretend he ever understood what his wife (either of them) had been going through with their ability, and now he understands he didn't know the half of it. The strength, the feel, the way that his whole body seemed to fill with it. There had been the snap of electricity whenever he touched anything metal at first, but he had pulled it back so quickly that it hadn't ever managed to discharge.

But what really surprised him was how familiar she seemed to be with what his original ability had been like. He couldn't help but glance toward her hand, toward her neck— no, he doesn't think things had gone the way they had before. Sometimes, he felt as if she hated him when she looked at him. Eve had also recognized him.

Was there another him running around? Would he— like his Lynette was now— going to meet another version of himself? In another place? With another life. He couldn't help but rub his hand over the tattoo on his lower arm, just below the elbow, but before the wrist. It felt warmer, somehow. "So it's a lot about emotional control," he repeats in short what she just told him. "Does it… always make your body itch? Or feel like you need to keep moving or…" he didn't really know the best way to explain it. His head was quieter, much so, almost deafeningly so, but it still felt like there was something under all of it.

“That’ll go away once you get control over it. You create electricity now, and will all the time without practice. Emotional control helps. Might be hard in your situation, I guess. So, until then, you’ll have to discharge every day or the build up will do it on its own.” Lynette glances over at him, like she has something to add, but seems troubled once she’s actually looking.

“You don’t want that,” she ends up adding, distracted.

Stepping back, she gestures toward the dummies. “The other thing that’s important is aim. Lightning moves faster than you can think— or it feels that way sometimes. You have to know where you’re putting it. It’s hard to fire on the fly or on instinct without it going everywhere.” Her arms fold, but she nods him onward. “Give it a try. And don’t worry, I can get it back under control if it goes wild.”

In some ways, this feels similar to his own ability. Always holding something inside, but with his original ability he couldn't actually release it to make that noise stop. It actually made it louder. Ruiz frowns down at his hands, almost as if he were trying to feel all those lines of fire racing through him, before he looks toward the dummies that she pointed at.

Don't worry, she says. She can get it under control, she says. There's a pop of electricity on his hands, as his fingers spark small bolts from one end to another. It's almost as if he's afraid to release it. Because he was always so afraid to let his own ability go out.

But then he glances back at her. They were so much alike. The way they spoke, the way they looked at people. But not the way this one looked at him. That was different. That was new. Even then, he still wished to touch the rings hidden under his shirt, could feel them cold against his skin. Skin that felt a lot warmer than it should be, really. But even with how she looked at him, he couldn't stop the trust that he felt. She really would get it under control if he lost it.

There's a silent nod as he raises one hand, his right one, and tries to imagine a line between his hand and one of the dummies. That was how his ability worked, with picturing how big he wanted to allow it, where he wanted it to go. He always had to see where it would go. So maybe that would be similar.

The electricity leaps out of him the second he thinks it. He can feel it pouring out of him like a flash flood, reckless and dangerous. But all it takes is that thought, Point A to Point B, to guide it in the direction he wants. It slams into the dummy, the force of it knocking the poor thing over. And then it's gone. There and gone in the span of a blink.

Lynette walks over to stamp out a fire it started on the dummy and to set it back up again. What Ruiz will notice is how cool the air feels, how calm his skin is, how much easier it is to breathe after letting it out.

"It won't be like that every time," she says, glancing over at him, "Just when you let it build up. Sometimes it'll be work to get even a spark out, until you build up some stamina." He can see for a moment a smirk appear on her face, playful and suggestive, like an old habit slipping in.

She notices, too, and she turns to look back at the dummy. "Anyway, there's always a generator or some car batteries or something like that around here that need some power. Do that every day, you won't get to the point where people can't touch you. That's where I started, just getting into a routine of letting it out before it got bad."

Point A and Point B. Those were two concepts he understood quite well. With his breath coming more easily, Ruiz finally does press his hand against his chest. Because for once it doesn't hurt when he does these things— but his ability had been different, he knew that. Was it too much to hope that Lynette would not suffer the same things he did using his ability? That it might be different with her? That maybe, just maybe, her heart would be stronger than his?

"She used to do that— charge the generators. She even had me teach her a little about electrical systems so she could work on them." More than a little, really. She had wanted to be helpful, with or without her ability. And most often with. His voice is so murmured that he might not even realize he's speaking his thoughts outloud. But he was. With a shake of his head, he looks back up at her.


"What happened to him?" he finds himself asking, suddenly.

Lynette looks over at him, brow furrowing as he talks. "She doesn't seem the type to work with her hands. They're too soft." Around here, no one has soft hands. She does try not to make it sound judgmental, but only sort of succeeds. "But hey, if you two know that kid of thing— Eve says we can trust you, so, you'll get put to work sooner or later. Probably sooner."

His question makes her look away again, then down to her feet. She doesn't want to talk about this, it's pretty clear. But she can't blame him for being curious. She did draw a gun on him.

"I don't know. He was with me— with us, the resistance— for a long time. I don't know if he was here to spy or if he decided to turn traitor later, but he left. He works against us now." She lifts her chin to look over at him, actually looking at him, and for a moment, she doesn't seem to know what to say.

"You look an awful lot like him. When he was here."


In a way, Ruiz had been expecting just to find out he had died horribly. Turning traitor and actively working against them sends a cold chill down him, that has nothing to do with the loss of heat in his body. "I meant…" he trails off, shaking his head, his dark curls shifting, bouncing a little. He hadn't even noticed how long his hair had gotten before they left, but those curls had a mind of their own, and always did when he let his hair get long.

At least he'd shaved. At least part way. Not as much as he used to be, back in the Hub, but. "This is the third… world I've been to, including my own," he explains after a moment, looking back at her. "It is Nette's… it's only her second." Somehow thinking of his wife as Nette and this one as Lynette made things a little easier. But at the same time. "My world wasn't much better than this." The Nette that came with them might seem soft, but he knew she wasn't.

But she also hadn't been through all the things that his world's Lynette had. Nor this one.

"That sounds complicated," Lynette says, sounding more flippant, more distant. Maybe pushing herself there, but that's where she is. "Hopping worlds. Being from different worlds. Bad luck landing here. This world's fucked. We're fighting until we die and that's the best we can truly hope for." Hope isn't why she's here, though. Just like his first wife, hope isn't something she depends on. Rather, she is here because she can't imagine sitting aside and waiting it out. Because if she's going to die, she's going to die for something.

And this Lynette, well. If they're going to kill her, she's going to make them earn it.

"Hopefully, wherever you all land, it's better than my world. Or yours. Seems like nonsense to me, but Eve knows what she's talking about. When she's sounds the most like gibberish, that's usually when she's the most right." And this whole cell of the resistance believes in their oracle enough to follow her wherever she leads them.

It is complicated.

There's a tightening in his chest. Ruiz wants to just tell her everything, rather than let her find out in passing. He pulls the necklace out from under his shirt. Two rings hang off of it, both almost the same size, because his hand is small. "My… my world's Lynette. We were married. And then she died. The other Lynette that is here— she was married to her world's me. And he had died." He leaves out that they died on the exact same day. Possibly even the exact same hour. "We found each other in her world." And she can see the ring still on his finger. A different ring entirely.

"I had thought that you had lost yours, like she had." Your world's him. It's so complicated. Three of each of them. And more besides, he's sure. But betrayal was worse than death. "I'm sorry for what happened with him." He can't imagine anything that would make him betray her. Any her. "I guess this is the fork in the garden where we ended as enemies." He doesn't know if the other him had shared that story with her, but…

"I would have been happy to stay in her world," he admits. "But we had to leave."

Lynette looks over at the rings, down to the one on his finger, then up to his face. The news that they were married three times to each other has an odd expression coming to her face. Unsettled, certainly. “Married.” It’s like she’s never heard the word before by how puzzled she sounds. “Hard to believe any version of me would want to get married. And the kids, too. Jesus.“ Her world isn’t the type to inspire children. Any future they could have would be full of turmoil. But that isn’t why Lynette doesn’t want kids. She never did.

When the Borges reference comes out, she look sharply away. Obviously, she knows what he’s paraphrasing. Her shoulders stiffen before she can get her breathing back under control. “I guess it is. The resistance doesn’t take betrayal lightly. But Eve’s agreed that it’s my job to clean that up.” A euphemistic way to put it. She looks back over his way, her hands moving to her hips. “Don’t apologize. Don’t feel sorry. It happened, it’s life. This is life here. You can never be sure of anyone. The closer they are, they more ammunition they have. It’s my own doing. I should have seen it.”

Married three times between two Lynettes and two Mateos. And two children, as well. One with him and one with the him that had died. It was certainly complicated. Ruiz couldn't help but nod as if he's not at all surprised she would never have considered herself the marrying or kid having type. "They weren't either— the other yous." He doesn't know how his wife had been before, but he could imagine, that she had been shocked she could find someone she felt as drawn to as him.

Because that was how it had been with his. The Lynette he lost.

"We hadn't really talked about it often, but I knew. The world dying around us, the only hope we had was to escape it completely, and trying to do even that might have gotten us killed. Did get her killed." Because of a bad mission, because someone they trusted had told them something… that might not have been true.

Edward Ray had needed to make their numbers smaller. To insure that those he wanted to save would make it. He had known they all could not. So he had sent them on a mission of death.

He had meant sorry for what he had done. That other him, the one she would… take care of. He can feel that charge building up again, so can she. But none of the things bouncing around inside his mind are good topics. "I think if anyone can manage in this world by themselves, it would be you," he does add, quietly, after a moment.

Lynette doesn't comment further on how unlikely marriage seems to her, and what it means that the other two were the same before him. It's a line of thought she's not willing to follow to any sort of conclusion.

"Dying for something she believed in," Lynette says, of her other self. "If you're going to go, that's not a bad way to do it." Worse for him than for his Lynette, she figures. Although, who knows. Maybe she was as different as is current wife is. Maybe dying in any fashion wasn't in her plans for a long time.

A frown appears on her face.

But luckily, there's a distraction from that uncomfortable train of thought as well. When the charge starts to build, she looks back over to him and steps away from the dummy and back to his side. "Damn straight," she says to his words, chin lifting as she gestures back toward the target. "Try it again." Since he has the power. "You're going to have to find a way to regulate your emotions or you're going to be sparking all over the place," she adds. "Around here, there's not a lot of happy thoughts to distract you, unfortunately."

Died for something she believed in. Ruiz wanted to say she died for nothing, but really, she hadn't. Even if it accomplished nothing in the end, she had wanted, so much, to get them to another world. Her, him, those children. The children had been among the most of their survivors. Almost half of their number had been children. They'd only lost a few in the trip across the city to get to the roof of that building.

"I still miss her," he admitted, even if he never wanted to admit that out loud. If she hadn't died, things would have been different. Evie likely would not exist. He never would have had Manuel as a son, either. But they might have had their own Evie. Their own Manuel. But they didn't. And they never would. He did not regret any of the last few years at all, but he still could miss her. Still could think of her. Still could wonder what might have been, if things had gone differently.

With a shake of his head, he looks down at his hands again, feeling the electricity building up. For a moment he frowns. It's… different than his ability. His old ability. Point A and Point B. Lightning to connect them.

For one he could sense the electricity in the air, in him, in her, in… everything. Holding his hands close together, the electricity arches between his fingers for a moment, not expelling the energy, just tossing it back and forth, like a tesla coil. The flickers and flashes of light reflect off his eyes, but it doesn't grow bright enough to burn spots in vision. Yet.

His words have Lynette tilting her head back, letting a sigh out toward the ceiling before she straightens back up again. Electricity flickers as she runs her fingers through her hair. Both his first and his current wife had a lot more control over their power, but in this moment he can tell that Lynette is holding a door closed against a battering ram. Just for that moment. Then it's buried again and she looks over at him.

"Yeah," she says eventually, "That's… you know. Normal. You lose people, you miss them. Doesn't make a difference if you found some other her somewhere else. They're not the same person. I mean, I guess they are, but they aren't."

It is possible that this is an attempt to be reassuring.

As the electricity moves between his hands, Lynette can't help the smile that tugs on a corner of her lips. Because, when it comes down to it, she enjoys her power. It can be hard, but it's never stopped being amazing to her. "You ever have sparklers growing up?" she asks, a bit out of nowhere. "The kids that come through here, they usually need something— not dire. Your girl probably does."

His girl. Ruiz looks up at her with hint of a grin that touches his eyes more than his mouth, almost as if he's wondering which of his girls she's talking about. Though he would hardly consider any Lynette a girl. She was right, either way. They might be the same, but they weren't. They had taken different paths, become unique individuals, but part of him knew he would love each and every one of her. If given the chance. Not that he would give himself that chance.

And not that he would find any fault in any of her not… feeling that way about him as well. Mostly because he still found it amazing that anyone could love him at all sometimes. Much less two of her having loved two of him.

And perhaps another set. Somewhere.

"Sparklers," he inquires softly, trying to focus on the little lines of light arching from one finger to another, that humming sound that's almost like music, almost like that sound that should be in his head but isn't. Lightning moving between two points. One hand to another. But sparklers wouldn't be like that. Not Point A and Point B. But what if…

He shakes off the thought. "How do you do that?" he asks, looking back at her again.

"You just have to pull all that energy down into your hands. Like you're going to channel somewhere." Lynette demonstrates. Outwardly, there isn't anything to see, of course, but she knows he can tell she's taking all that electricity that runs under her skin and pushing it down her arms. "And then— hang on."

She steps away to flick off the light in the room.

"Instead of channeling it anywhere, or shooting it at anything, you just let a little out. It's good for practicing control, thinking of it like… a valve you can open wide and shut off, but also you can ease it open just a little." A spark of white shines at the tip of her finger. And much like a sparkler, she lifts it to write her name in the air in elaborate, curling script. The afterimage hangs in their vision as she cuts her power off. "Want to try it?"

Hold it in.

Let a little out at a time.

The first thing is at least something Ruiz had been doing, a lot, since the red lightning hit in. Constantly trying to keep it in. Releasing it had been the scary part, but it had mostly all come out at once that first time— the second— he wasn't really releasing it. He was pushing it back and forth, connecting his hands together with it. He nods at her demonstration, but there's something about how he looks at her that seems like he's worried about staring.

Cause he wants to, a little. Just. Look at her.

"A little at a time," he repeats, cutting off that flow connecting hand to hand and pushing it all into… one place. Into one hand, even, a hand he folds into a fist as if to visualize grasping it better. All of it. She can feel it gather there even better than he can. He sticks out one finger, a pointer finger, much as she did and imagines letting some of it out.

Instead of a flicker of sparkles, a bolt of lightning shoots out, aimed at the ceiling.

Lynette notices the staring— it's a little hard to miss— but she doesn't seem like she's going to call him out on it. She doesn't seem entirely comfortable with it, either. He's too familiar. Too easy. Her own instinct to relax at his smile and reach out for him when he looks away don't help the situation, either.

She plants her hands on her hips and a frown on her face.

While he works out the technique, she watches with her ability rather than her eyes. Easier that way. And when a bolt comes out instead of a spark, she pulls at it, syphoning off some of its power before it hits the ceiling. In the end, it does little more than leave a charred spot on the old paint.

"Try it again," she says. She's gruff, but it sounds a bit like she's trying to be encouraging.

While the bolt of lightning leaves little more than that charred spot on the ceiling, Ruiz continues to look at it with a grimace for a while afterward. He wants to apologize, he wants to offer to paint over it— but really the building is in such poor repair that one more charred spot wasn't going to make much of a difference. This was, after all, in a ruin.

"You don't happen to turn into lightning, do you?" he inquires for a moment as he tries to push all that electricity into his hand once again. It's just something to talk about, while he focuses. It goes better this time, a crackle and sparks flying, but instead of from a fingertip it comes from his entire hand. He's having a difficult time focusing it at a small area, it would seem. But at least that's more like what he intended.

It was harder than he thought it would be. More wanted to come out than he wanted.

"Not that I know of," Lynette answers, but a moment later her head tilts and her expression turns more thoughtful. "I never tried to. But that would be some shit to see." And it's almost like she's a bit excited by the idea, buried somewhere under everything else.

Her head tilts at his next attempt, and even though it isn't what he wanted, it gets a hint of a smile on her face. "That's the idea," she says with a firm nod, "not bad, Ruiz." She understands better than anyone how much this particular ability wants to burst out, and how hard it is to rein it in. "You practice that for focus and control. Everyday until it's second nature. You'll be able to stop just… producing it all the time. That's the problem, you know? You generate it, and it'll just go, go, go without a firm handle on it." That's something she's not really mentioned to anyone before, the details and difficulties of her own power, but it comes out easily here. Just the two of them with a shared burden.

"Once you master that," she says, her smile turning crooked, "we can move on to the fun stuff."

"It had been," Ruiz murmurs softly, remembering that vividly, even if his sharpest memory had been played in reverse. When Steve had released her. When she had went from living lightning back to flesh. Injured flesh. Dying flesh. The one he had lost. The memory helps keep the charge building in him, sparking out from his hand, even when he closes it. He's not quite sure how to shut it off completely, so he just keeps letting it spark for the moment.

He will learn. He will have to. He wants to touch his wife and child again.

But really, this isn't the fun stuff? "I know where the training dummies are now if I need to… let go." Fully, that is. But at least he knows how to do so without actually hurting the dummies. Or anyone else. For now.

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