Gone Away With The Snow


lynette_icon.gif ruiz_icon.gif

Scene Title Gone Away With The Snow
Synopsis After a meeting with Richard Ray, Lynette and Mateo drive to the Catskills in search of Karin Brauer.
Date February 10, 2020

In the days that followed Richard's news about her mother, Lynette went on a rollercoaster of intent and emotion. One moment, she cried over her distant mother ignoring her and the next, she would declare that she didn't care anyway. And everything in between. The decision to go find the woman was a difficult one to make and yet… inevitable that she would seek her out. A lifetime of odd letters and occasional cards back and forth dwindled into nothing during the war. And given the presence of Silvia, Manuel and Evie… she hasn't wanted to reforge that relationship.

And yet. With the address in hand, it became impossible to put Karin out of her mind.

The drive here… has been a tense one. It's lucky for everyone on the road that Mateo is the one driving. Lynette has been in charge of music and panic attacks. And once they're actually pulling off the highway and navigating to the correct home… well, she seems less and less sure they should have done this at all.

Forested mountains ramble across the countryside of New York as far as the eye can see. Tall pines blanket the rolling mountains in an endless sea of dark green, broken up only by the remote presence of houses and small cluster-neighborhoods. The snow is deeper out here, far north of the city and into the catskills. The roads aren’t well tended at this time of year, few residents still remain dotted across these remote hills and mountains. It’s made for a slow-going journey.

The weather and road conditions have made the journey from the Safe Zone across winding back roads take close to three hours. The route cuts northwest through remote reaches of New York State. Even this close to Albany, it feels like there's no sign of real civilization. Protected parklands like these became overgrown after the war, consuming abandoned homes and highway gas stations, returning the reaches between cities into evergreen wilderness.

Oliverea Road winds through the mountains, a narrow two-lane road made to feel even narrowed by the snow piled up on either side. A plow came through what must have been weeks ago, judging from the current conditions, carving enough of a path for Lynette’s car to struggle up the steep and slippery mid-February terrain.

The Catskill Mountains
Shandaken, NY

February 15th
10:46 am

There’s no cell phone service out here, leaving Lynette and Mateo without GPS to guide their way. Thankfully not much has changed in the intervening eleven years since the road Atlas they have was last printed. Up ahead, the house in question comes into view. It's a modern thing, all right angles and pale, natural shades of gray. It's walls are mostly glass, and it looks like it probably cost a fortune to construct out here in the mountains. But this, far from any main road, is where Karin Brauer chose to live her life in indifference to her daughter.

The driveway to the house is a steep one and Lynette’s vehicle struggles with the ascent. It takes a few tries to get everything moving, until the car begrudgingly makes the rest of the climb up the hill to come to rest in front of the house. There’s only one vehicle in the driveway, a white box truck with no insignias or logos on it, no license plate for that matter. The house is relatively dark when viewed from outside, and what little can be seen against the sky’s reflection in the glass looks both spacious and empty.

“It’s a good thing we did so much traveling before,” Mateo muses quietly as he pulls up to the house, putting the car into park and looking through the windshield. Before. A few worlds ago. Where they met again and fell in love and raised two children until everything fell apart. They had driven around. Which is good, because the Mateo in this world hadn’t really driven much beyond the road trip up from Mexico. He might not have been as good with the map without that part of him that had done so much driving around New York.

This wasn’t one of the places they’d ever gone then. He wondered what had happened to Karin in that timeline. The war had never happened, where had she been? It was one of those questions he never really asked.

And probably still wouldn’t. It wasn’t a topic they were supposed to talk about freely. Her mom had some secrets, though, from what he’s gathered.

“This is the place,” he adds after a moment, checking the address versus the Atlas one last time before he looks at Lynette. “You ready?” He asks, waiting for her to move first before he’ll follow her up to the house.

Lynette doesn't answer, at first, just staring ahead at the house as they pull to a stop. Ready really isn't in the cards.

"This place is so pretentious," she says, waving a hand at the glass walls of her mother's apparent home. "I can't believe I'm related to someone who looks at a post-apocalyptic world and decides to live in a glass fucking mansion." Lynette generally isn't easily irritated, not these days, but still, the attitude is not at all foreign to Mateo. With an annoyed huff, Lynette pushes open her door and climbs out and buttons her winter coat around her. Even though there hasn't been signal for hours, she still grabs her phone and brings it along with her in a pocket. A small comfort, perhaps. Or… a small hope that her mother might be able to make everything better and she'll have reason to share the precious memories it contains.

Not that she'd ever let herself cling to that particular thought. But what abandoned child hasn't wished it was all just some misunderstanding?

She slams the car door behind her. "I suppose," she says, looking over at Mateo, "we should go knock." For a moment, it seems like she might be waiting for him to do so, but in the end, she only waits to be able to take his hand in hers before she heads to the front door.

The path up to the front door is shoveled enough to seem recent, revealing some bare brick of the walkway beneath. As Mateo and Lynette cross the grounds they can see more of the interior of the house through the glass, and all of it looks largely vacant. Up the stone steps to the front door they’re provided with a view of a balcony covered in snow, beyond which an empty living room is visible. The front door, also glass, looks into a dining room with a single table in it and no chairs, and a kitchen too dark to make out any details. There’s some cardboard boxes on the floor just inside the door, though they’re not taped up.

It looks like whoever lives here, if it really is Karin, is moving.

A glass house in the middle of nowhere. At first, Mateo had thought it was beautiful, but at her words, he can’t help but nod. It was something odd considering the world around her. It definitely wasn’t the simple home that they had had before. “I wonder how she’s getting power all the way out here.” He can’t help but think this, considering everything. Solar panels? Possibly. He might find himself looking into it while they talk, despite himself.

People could get power in all kinds of situations. As his hand slips into hers, he joins his wife up to the front, glancing in the windows with a frown. “Looks like we came just in time.”

The address might not have been good in a few days, from the looks of things.

"It's dark, maybe she doesn't get power," Lynette says, lifting a shoulder. She rings the bell first, but a few beats later, she knocks as well. Just in case. Also, because of nervousness. She glances at the boxes, a frown coming to her face. She doesn't like the implications, any of them that come to mind. She tries to keep the less charitable thoughts up front to sustain her willingness to be here, but the thought that maybe something bad happened worms its way through as well. "Hmm," is all she manages to say to Mateo's observation, as her own opinion on the matter is torn.

And she rings the doorbell again.

It’s hard to tell if the doorbell worked, because the sound of the chime can’t be heard from outside. But in the dark, something stirs. A shape at the far back of the house moves, silhouette for a moment when it steps into the light, then back into the shadow again. By the time the figure is drawing close enough to be seen, they’re nearly on top of Mateo and Lynette on the other side of the glass.

It’s a tall, thin man. A few inches over Mateo in height but with a narrower build. He has a long face, scruffy with stubble. His short, dirty blonde hair is a tousled mess. He peers at Mateo and Lynette through the glass wall for a moment, then steps closer and presses a button beside the door. There’s a buzz from it as a magnetic lock is released, and he pulls the door back into the home just enough for it to open a crack.

“I’m sorry,” the thin man says with a flick of his eyes from Mateo to Lynette and back again, “I don’t go to church.” He starts to close the door.

While normally Mateo would probably let Lynette do this sort of thing, he steps forward instead and sticks his boot inside the door to keep it from shutting all the way. Nope, whoever this is, he’s not going to just walk away. Especially not when this could be the last chance this address will work at all. “We’re not with a church.” Please don’t shoot at him, or he’ll have to do something worse than stick his foot in the door.

He’d rather not use his ability if he can avoid it. Especially since he’s not sure what all the effects of using it would be now.

He looks at Lynette and gives her a nod to go ahead. She can do this.

Lynette lets out a defeated sigh when a stranger opens the door. It's possible she would have let him close the door if Mateo hadn't stepped in. Maybe Richard had an old address. Maybe her mother just didn't want to talk to her.

But Mateo does step in, and Lynette only hesitates a moment before she speaks up.

"I'm sorry to disturb you," she says, as gently as she can manage, "we're looking for Karin Brauer. We were given this address. Is she… here? Does she live here?" She pauses, unsure if she should go on. She sighs again, her hand moving to her hip. "I'm her daughter." She does her very best not to sound bitter there. It sneaks through just a little. Some things can't be hidden.

Initial confusion on the tall, thin man’s face is rather quickly replaced by something more wary and guarded. He looks between Mateo and Lynette in the way someone who has something to hide might. He opens his mouth to speak, then hesitates, struggling with the correct words. Or, more accurately, fighting with the words he should say versus the ones he wants to. After a suspiciously long time, he instead chooses to back away from the door and gesture inside the largely empty home.

“Come on in, you’re letting all the hot hair out.” He says, inviting Mateo and Lynette inside. “Name’s Nolan,” he says awkwardly. “What did you two say your names were?”


Nolan doesn’t suspect Lynette knows who he is, but Richard had warned her that Karin — Ruby — had a grandson. Nolan Harper. Desmond Harper’s son.


Mateo pulls his foot back in relief as they are offered an inside and he can’t help but look the man up and down. He was older than he had expected. How old had her half-brother been? There’s many questions that he would like answers to, but he glances at Lynette and nods in encouragement. He knows how odd it is to find out that there was a sibling you’d never known about. He also knew how weird it was to meet your mother after so long— a side of your mother you’d never expected. And now he had to wonder if Nolan was just finding out his father had a sister.

"Lynette Rowan-Ruiz," she says at the request. "I probably should have started with that." But she didn't. Because this is not a normal situation with normal social decorum.

“Mateo Rowan-Ruiz,” he responds simply, having had adopted a combination of their names when they married. “I’m her husband,” he nods towards the woman next to him, following inside.

"Sorry, my love," Lynette says when Mateo gives his own introduction, because she probably also should have taken care of that. She squeezes his hand before she steps into the house behind Nolan. "You're Desmond Harper's son?" she asks bluntly. Her mother's family. Her real family. Lynette has never felt left behind so deeply as she does now, finding Desmond's child here in the home that is supposedly her mother's. "Maybe this was a mistake," she says, turning toward Mateo. "If she wanted to see me, she would have come to me by now."

Nolan tenses when his father’s name is mentioned. Lynette and Mateo both can see his jaw flex, eyes just a touch wild. He swallows, sliding his tongue along his teeth. “My father is dead,” is the only confirmation he gives. “And I’m sorry, who are you all exactly?”

“This house belongs to Ruby Harper,” Nolan says with a look between Lynette and Mateo, “and I’ve never heard her mention either of you two before, or Karin Brauer.” Shoulders squared, Nolan takes a few more steps back into the house, now wary of the two strangers that have come in. “So you aren’t here for the house,” he surmises, not that either knew the property was on the market.

Then, growing further suspicious, Nolan asks, “How the hell do you know my father’s name? Are you feds?

Oh boy.

Mateo winces visibly as it turns out that this man had been left in the dark as much as his aunt had been. He glances at Lynette, reaching out to offer her his hand again in support, a physical reminder that he was there with her and she wasn’t going through this alone. “No, we’re not feds. We’re— acquaintances of Richard Ray.” That was the best answer he could come up with. They definitely were not feds. And they weren’t here to buy the house. He opens his mouth as if he might make a joke about the lovely house in the middle of nowhere—

But he decides against it. The part of him that came from this world had been a little less serious sometimes. But the other knew when to hold his tongue.

"Not feds. Desmond Harper's victims," Lynette says, which probably isn't helping Nolan feel any better about this situation, "and Simon Broome's victims. And 'Ruby Harper's' victims. And I shouldn't have to invoke Richard's name be be able to see my own mother." Her politeness disappears in her rant, and she turns to walk deeper into the house. "Mother!" she calls out, looking in doors as she passes by. "Mother!"

Mateo is left to fill in for her as she decides to search through a practical stranger's home. Her anger isn't well hidden now, and might be a touch worrisome. But Mateo, at least, knows that she doesn't actually mean any harm. She's just not very good at handling her own emotions. It's something her therapist is working on.

“Woah hey!” Nolan sputters, pivoting between Mateo and Lynette, not sure whom of which to focus on. But eventually he settles on the one pressing further into the house. “Hey!” Nolan says, cutting in front of her with a hustle. “Okay first of all, one,” he sticks up a finger, “whatever sick game this is you’re playing?” He narrows his eyes. “It’s stops right about here. My grandmother isn’t here, she moved out months ago. Maybe you haven’t noticed the lack of furniture?” Nolan says with a broad gesture around himself.

Secondly,” Nolan adds, a second figure coming up, “I don’t remember you from any of the family reunions. So why don’t you take a nice step back there, Home Invasion Barbie, and you and your immaculately sculpted Ken doll can use your words and explain what the hell it is you’re doing in my house?” He doesn’t acknowledge the mention of Harper or Broome, though it’s clear he heard it. There’s a tension rising in his posture and expression indicative enough of that.

With a small grimace, Mateo watches for a moment as Lynette attempts to call out to her mother, the woman who lived a life none of them even knew about until just a short time ago. It had thrown him when he found out his life had not been what he had expected, that he had been made to forget so much and so much had been pulled over his eyes. Part of him had never even found all that out. Not all of it, at least.

“Lynette,” he says after the man speaks and— well— calls them what he does, reaching out to take her hand and try to calm her down. They didn’t need an electrical storm on top of everything. “I understand that you’re confused and angry. We only just found out all of this ourselves. If you happen to have a way to contact your— your grandmother— maybe she could clear all this up?”

"What sick game I'm playing?" Lynette says, turning back toward Nolan. "That's rich." She waves her hand at the building, as if he should understand at all what she means. "I wasn't invited to the reunions, Harper, because your grandmother abandoned me when I was a child and gave me years of empty promises and letters full of even emptier platitudes. And I am not a Barbie. He isn't— well, he is immaculately sculpted," she says, gesturing to Mateo as her fire seems to die down a bit. Her hands move to her hips and she flips her hair out of her face. Because on top of everything else, Mateo is being reasonable and it really takes out what's left of the wind in her sails.

"God, she really never told you about us," she says, her eyes blinking once or twice as she looks from Nolan to Mateo. She laughs, just a breath of disbelief. And yet. It isn't at all hard to believe.

"She involved us in something when we were children, Mateo and I," she says, words calmer even though it's clear she's no less upset. "I would like to ask her about that. We deserve an explanation. And if she wouldn't mind having a discussion about some other matters between her and I, I would greatly appreciate it."

Nnn no,” Nolan says with a furrow of his brows, looking between Lynette and Mateo with obvious suspicion. “She never mentioned you. Like, ever. Also — wait a minute — how can she be your mother?” Nolan asks with a double take, finally processing that comment from earlier. “You’re what… 32? 33?” He dramatically underestimates her age. “I’m thirty-three and she’s my grandmother.” Both of Nolan’s brows rise slowly.

“My… my dad was born in 1966.” Nolan adds, crossing his arms over his chest. “Now, Ruby wasn’t really in the picture a lot when I was growing up but… I feel like my Grandad probably would’ve said something if he’d known I had a… uh…” Nolan squints, then looks down at the floor. “Cousin? No that’s not right…” His eyes shift to the side, lips moving with unsaid words as he tries to puzzle out what their relationship would be.

For a moment, Mateo has to smile more than is probably appropriate when the other man tries to guest his wife’s age. “See, I always tell you that you look almost a decade younger,” he says an aside, grinning at the blonde woman a little, even teasing her after that immaculately sculpted comment, “But no, your aunt isn’t the same age as you.” That joke aside, though, he looks back at him a little more serious, trying to keep the mood calm as possible.

“The only person who can answer any of our questions is, unfortunately, your grandmother.” Cause now they all had questions. Too many of them, really. He wished he could find a way to answer them immediately, but— life was always going to be complicated.

This was just a complication he had never expected.

"So typical," Lynette says, mostly to herself. It's like a mantra, something she's said over and over when it comes to her mother. A way to dismiss decades of hurt. Bury it. There really was no universe where her mother decided to claim her— a fact she knew too well— and this one wasn't likely to be the exception. She takes in a breath before turning to the others, the misjudgement and Mateo's tease both getting a small chuckle. It's a somewhat embarrassed sound, but at least she seems to be steadying.

"Well, it seems like about twelve years after your father was born, Ruby decided to take a break from your family and started mine. But not for long, I assure you." It comes belatedly, the realization that she's remaking Nolan's view of his family— their family. But the assurance is a genuine one, she doesn't want him to feel like he was ever abandoned. That's not a feeling one gets over. "Mateo's right, though. Obviously none of us here have any answers. Nolan, would it be alright if I left you our contact information. For her, if she… decides to use it. But also for you. Despite my… display," she says with a wave to the room. "You are family and if you'd ever like to talk, I'd like you to have a way to find us."

Nolan makes a noise in the back of his throat, but the expression he has isn’t a dismissive one, it’s troubled. He swallows audibly amid the silence between the three, looking from Lynette to Mateo and back again. “Yeah I uh,” he pats himself down, pulling out a weathered and wrinkled receipt for packing peanuts and cardboard boxes from one pocket, and a pen from the other. “Here.” He says, handing them over to Lynette.

“Look I…” Nolan shakes his head. “I know my mom was kind of a, uh, you know…” he hands go up in the air, “she was wild when she was younger. I never questioned it much but, it—she—I—I don’t know how to process all of this.”

Nolan starts to pace, scrubbing one hand through his hair. He stops pacing, tongue pressed against the inside of his cheek as he slowly looks back to Lynette. “She left the country, you know.” He motions with his chin away from them, as if to indicate where she went. “Swiss Alps or something like that. Away. Told me the day before she left, this time. So I’m—that isn’t to say I don’t believe you it’s just.”

Sighing, Nolan scrubs the heel of his palm against his forehead. “I’m just a little pissed that you could be telling the truth.”

“It’s unnerving when everything you thought was true might have been a lie,” Mateo responds quietly, glancing toward Lynette in a knowing way, because, well, all three of them have found out about something in their past that had seemed ironclad and true to be a veneer the whole time. Or at least, it seemed that way. He had hoped that maybe there was a good explanation and that they would learn what Lynette needed, but it seemed that they were a few days too late.

“A vacation to the Swiss Alps might be difficult without an address,” he muses with a glance toward his wife, leaving out all the other difficulties of travelling outside of the country right now, especially with how his paperwork was. Not to mention— Europe in general.

But he would do whatever it is that Lynette needed. If she needed to go on an adventure through the Alps, he would be right there with her.

Lynette takes the pen and paper, giving him a nod of thanks. However, she ends up pulling out a business card from her bag, jotting down a more personal number on the back before she passes it to him. "I know it's a lot. And I'm sorry I didn't handle it more gracefully. I seem to trip over myself when she's involved. Or rather, when she's not involved." If he catches her meaning. She seems rather deflated now, for all her sound and fury moments ago. She can't even reassure him that his relationship with Ruby is still solid, because she doesn't even know her anymore. Not that she ever did.

So, instead, she looks over at Mateo, shaking her head as she reaches for his hand. "Don't worry, I'm not chasing her to the Alps. It's bad enough that I chased her to the Catskills." And came up empty handed.


She has to mentally remind herself that she isn't a child anymore. And that she can't control her mother, only herself. "But I mean it, Nolan. You're always welcome to come see us or call. If you'd like to. I think we should get out of your hair, though. I feel like I've done more than enough damage for one night."

Nolan makes a noise in the back of his throat, looking from Lynette to Mateo and back again. He inspects the business card, turning it over. “You’re a shrink?” He got the details wrong, but at least his head’s in the right professional sphere. “Huh, maybe I could use one,” he says, tucking the card into the back pocket of his pants.

“Look, for what it’s worth, I don’t even know where exactly it is she went. She does this sometimes, just… disappears.” Nolan looks down at the floor, then back to up Lynette. “Sometimes for a few days, sometimes for a few years. You— just never know. Right?” He reaches up and scratches the back of his neck with one hand.

“Anyway— anyway,” Nolan stammers, not really letting any of that have time to sink in. “You’re right, I uh, I need to wrap all this up and get the hell out of here before it snows again.” He says, following the Ruiz’s to the front door.

“Look, for what it’s worth… I’m… I’m sorry about everything my dad did. I know— ” Nolan makes a noise in his throat and shakes his head, “I know he did some fucked up things. I’m sorry.” There’s an earnest, awkward guilt in his eyes as he looks down to the floor.

“Take, uh…” Nolan fumbles over his words, “drive safe, y’know. Out there. It’s a mess.”

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