Happy Birthday, Here's Bad News


lynette3_icon.gif richard3_icon.gif

Scene Title Happy Birthday, Here's Bad News
Synopsis Actually, she doesn't even say happy birthday. But they've got to save the world anyway.
Date June 18, 2018

Raytech NYCSZ Branch Office

It's been some time since Lynette was last in the Raytech lobby. Things are different. Security's high, the receptionist is weirder than usual, and Lynette looks like she's not slept in a while. But she's sober, so there's that. And she's dressed professionally, together enough that a casual glance might peg her as just having a resting-bitch-face problem rather than anything being wrong.

She hasn't even sat down since arriving, despite being told she could. Instead she leans on a wall, holding something that looks suspiciously like a project binder in her arms like it might be something of a lifeline. It's possible that wearing heels was a bad idea, but she did it anyway. For appearance's sake.

“Lynette.” A smile crooks to Richard’s lips as he walks out into the lobby, dressed sharply as ever in his home environment, hands spreading a bit in greeting, “Good to see you. You look like you have terrible news for me, so let’s head up to my office so nobody will notice if I pour a glass or two of good scotch to go along with it.”

This isn’t his first rodeo.

"I knew I shouldn't have worn my bad news suit," Lynette says, pulling away from the wall to move to follow him. Her greeting comes in a crooked smile. "Thanks for seeing me." That smile seems almost grateful that it isn't his first rodeo. It saves a lot of the awkward parts of these conversations. "You're an angel," she says to the mention of scotch, because it's been that sort of month.

“An angel to some, to others…?” Richard shrugs one shoulder, turning to lead the way towards the elevator with a chuckle, “Others may have conflicting opinions. Are you and your family well, before we get to less pleasant matters?” The doors slide open smoothly and he steps in, arching a brow her way.

"Well, I happen to think my opinion matters more than just about everyone else's," she comments, wryly. Lynette follows him into the elevator, letting out a sigh when the doors close behind them, as if pretending to have it together was a tiring endeavor.

"That's one of the things we need to talk about. Everyone's… fine. Did Des tell you about the shooting? Before everything happened." That thing where contacting Des at all has become a delicate matter. "Mateo's recovering, thanks to her." Without Des there, he wouldn't have made it off Raytech's lobby floor.

“I have a feeling there’s an entire list of things we need to talk about,” admits Richard, and then he frowns— not at her, but at the thought of the shooting. “Yes. Someone out in the Heights shot him, and he… ah, did his thing and jumped inside the perimeter, I believe?”

He really needs to look into Mateo-proofing the solar batteries.

“I’m glad to hear that he’s recovering well, at least.”

"That's likely." Lynette is holding a binder, after all. Although, the list is a mental one.

"Eileen Ruskin," she says, of their someone, "shot him. She would have killed him if she could have followed him here. She's… well, she's not the Eileen I knew, that's obvious. I tracked her to Staten." But that story cuts off there, like an elevator is somehow not private enough. A glance goes up to the ceiling, where she assumes the cameras will be. "It's gotten a lot worse than her shooting my husband. Or— I guess it was already worse but now I've also pissed her off."

Which was not the goal of that meeting.

"Yes, I'm glad, too. He was a terrible patient," she says, because that's a lot easier than talking about the actual scary part of your loved ones nearly dying.

“No,” says Richard, jaw tightening, “She’s not the Eileen Ruskin that you knew.” He doesn’t further elaborate, though, as the doors open with a soft ding and he leads the way out into the hallway with a shake of his head.

No other questions, at least until he reaches the door of his office and opens it up with a touch of his lanyard’s card to a panel beside it and leads the way in.

The kitten is sleeping on the desk, exhausted from managing the climb up to it.

“Have a seat,” he says, heading for his chair - leaning over to pull out a drawer of the desk once he’s ensconced in his seat. A bottle of the aforementioned scotch is drawn out, set on the desk’s black glass, and two highball glasses to go with it.

Lynette glances over at him, nodding to his words. That seems like a perfectly reasonable reaction to this new Eileen of theirs. She comes in, setting the binder down just before she sits. And reaches over to pet the kitten, because it is adorable.

"I had a confrontation with her," she says, euphemistically, although he can likely imagine what a confrontation with her husband's attacker was like. "She— has Volken's ability." And yet, Lynette remains standing, which is part lucky and partly her own ability. "So if you could make that a double, I'd appreciate it."

At the stroke of fingers, Richelieu stirs, jaws opening in an adorable yawn before he rubs himself against those fingers and rolls over to offer his belly. He’s a cat, so it’s probably a trap.

That news, then, has the scotch splashing over the edge of the glass and onto the desk itself as Richard nearly drops it, jerking the bottle straighter to stop from alcohol abuse. Hazel eyes widening as he stares at her, the puddle of scotch slowly creeping over the glass-like surface of the desk. “Can— can you repeat that part, please?”

"Well," she says, tilting her head upward for a moment. Stress. It's been getting to her. "I almost killed her, then she sucked the life out of some bystanders, turned them to so much ash. And then chased after me howling like a damn banshee. Oh, the— not your gun." She might need a new analogy.

The trap is not fallen for, although Richelieu's chin still gets scritches. She's onto you, cat. But as far as coping mechanisms go, she prefers the scotch. But the waste can be forgiven in this case.

"So, I suppose this meeting is part warning. Don't try to kill her, she doesn't take it well."

The glasses are swiftly filled, and Richard drops down into his seat heavily, losing all his breath in a moment. “I rather wish I’d known that before I had a meeting with her recently,” he observes in brittle tones, leaning back in his chair with a sigh and staring at the vessel of liquor before him, “The Black Conduit. Of course. Of all the things she’d bring through with her— “

His nose wrinkles, “She’s from another superstring— another timeline. She’s one of the Four Horsemen, along with Iago, Danko, Lang. Their stated purpose here is to eliminate all traces of the Looking Glass technology or similar methods of leaving our timeline.”

“Which, given a tape I watched recently,” he notes, “Explains her attempt on Mateo’s life.”

"Oh it has a name. Lovely." Lynette will never call it that, not if she can help it. Dramatics aren't approved of, unless they're her own, of course. Which is why the name of Eileen's boy band gets a flat look across the desk. "Because he can hop timelines. Potentially. One version of him already did. Eve says there's another trying to get here. The one on the tape. With Elisabeth."

She's making an assumption there, but if there are two tapes like that floating around, she's going to have a fit.

"Alright, that makes more sense." The motive. "I have to say I agree that the Looking Glass should probably be gotten rid of, but maybe after Ruiz can open the way here. And after we kick Eileen and her friends back to wherever they came from."

“The only person I know of that was even capable of reconstructing the Looking Glass,” says Richard with a shake of his head, “Was my mother, and she died back in nineteen-eighty two. Today, actually, as it happens.” Dryly, “Happy birthday to me.”

He rubs one hand over his face, then brings his glass back up, “And yes. I’ve seen it. Analysis of extant prophetic material and probability prediction suggests that they will succeed in returning via Looking Glass device on December twenty-fifth of this year, on top of the Deveraux Building.”

A faint smile, gaze meeting hers, “They’re coming home.”

"So that's a no on sending her back where she came from, then?" Lynette lets the kitten have his freedom back, reaching for the alcohol instead. "I'm sorry to hear that. I didn't mean to add more to your pile on an already difficult day."

Of course, there's no good day to hear it.

Lynette lifts an eyebrow at the clinical description of what the future holds for them all. But the smile brings out a relieved sigh from her. For various reasons. "Alright, good," she says leaning back and moving toe rest her feet on his desk. Yellow heels, red soles. They make her feel better about the world, these shoes, and they're getting a workout lately. "So we just have to keep Ruskin and Co. from ruining it on this end." Easy to say, although her tone implies that it'll be harder to actually do.

“I’ve temporarily distracted them by suggesting that the Institute Remnant might be working on recreating Looking Glass,” Richard admits with a shake of his head, “God knows how long that’ll keep them busy, though. And…”

A breath’s slowly drawn in, “There’s one other thing.” And it’s not good it seems.

Richelieu wanders over to the other side of the desk, and Richard reaches to scritch the kitten under the chin as he takes a sip of scotch.

"I'm confident in our capability to harass the enemy. Did it for years with the Ferry. In the war. If she has a mind to keep coming for Mateo, I'll find a way to do more than that." She did that during the war, too. Lynette looks over at him at the warning of more to come, but she takes a drink before addressing it.

"Oh, I don't know why I thought New York might have gotten any calmer," she says, then gestures his way. "Alright. What else?"

“Our Des…” Richard grimaces, looking at the scotch in his glass, “…is not our Des any more.”

He glances up to meet her eyes, “Somehow she’s been switched with the her from another superstring. One where she worked with Arthur.”

And that makes it Lynette's turn to stare. Which she does. And then she reaches for the scotch to refill her glass. The bottle is carefully set back down, a drink taken from her glass, a heavy sigh.

"For fuck's sake."

Clearly, that is not what she expected to hear. She didn't know what to expect, but not that. "Does that mean we can't trust this one? Or has she found her own way around toward redemption? And— how do we get ours back? And also. What the fuck?" She doesn't know who is responsible for all this, not anyone still living anyway, but she would very much like someone to slap over it. Instead, she sips at her drink and nods toward her binder. "I've been digging into Des' past. Finding what evidence I can to help her with Hana and Vincent and that mess. Just the beginning, but— well, hopefully we'll get a chance to use it."

“She knows that I’m her best chance of getting home, but… I don’t know how much we can trust her,” Richard admits, “She’s slavishly loyal to Arthur, believes everything he’s done was for the best. Doesn’t realize how much of her background is fake and she won’t believe me, either. No idea how to get her back, unfortunately.” Reluctant to admit it, a flicker of pain in his eyes.

A look to the binder, then back to her, “What’d you find?”

"Alright. I'll make sure Mateo knows to tread carefully." The idea that they might not get their Des back makes her expression flicker from annoyance to sorrow. Just for a moment. "We'll find a way," she says, in the fashion of someone who cannot accept another outcome. "She's been in touch with her other selves for a while now. Maybe we should dig into that a little more. How that could be possible."

Her feet come back to the floor so she can sit forward and put a hand on the binder. "Most of what I found is not good. But, it's there. The proof that she was used. Bishop's trial record has her named as one of the child prisoners of the Company. Her stint with Vanguard was brief and there's not a lot of solid evidence there one way or the other. I'm working on the Suresh angle. Might be something there to at least suggest that she wasn't there by choice. The Institute was a little easier. She was detained and stripped of her ability. According to their own records, she only worked for them in exchange for some freedoms." Of course, there's one more issue, a much bigger one to unravel. "I still have some work to do to nail down what happened during the war. But I'll get there. I have a few leads. I was hoping you might be able to find a good lawyer. Because they're going to find her. I don't know what she did to Hana, but she's not going to let this go. We need someone who'll be able to fight against the US Government for her."

The binder gets fiddled with, fingers flipping through the pages idly. "You'll have to forgive me for making this all analog. It isn't that I don't trust Hana it's just… that I sort of don't trust her," she says with a crooked smile.

“I like Hana. She’s a wonderful ally, and a good woman. She’s about as flexible as a lead rod,” admits Richard in wry tones, “So I entirely understand. There’s a reason we have a closed network here.”

A slow sip of the scotch is taken, and he admits, “I… plan on calling in a favor, to help with that. Her record, and her actions during the war. I know they have the power to do this, and they owe me a damn big favor.” Steel flashes in his eyes, “So we’ll see what they say.”

"That's an excellent way to put it. I'm fairly certain she thinks I'm too soft these days, but if there's any good in the world, I won't need her for anything in the future." Lynette chuckles, though, at his own bit of Hana protection.

"Well, that's good to know. So if I can't find anything there… it's not the end of the rope." Which, really, helps ease the pressure of this particular situation. "Maybe hold onto that favor, though. If we can't get her back and this other Odessa isn't like her… it could be good to have a fall back plan. We both know how different people can end up, traveling different paths." For all the similarities there can be, the differences are far more pronounced.

“We do.” Richard’s lips twist in a grimace, “It’s a… twist that I didn’t expect, and it’s making everything that much harder.” He sinks back in his chair, looking down at his glass as he admits more quietly, “I miss her.”

"So do I." Lynette sits back in her chair, fingers turning her glass slowly. "I haven't gotten to tell her that I still— Mateo and I both still believe in her. Whatever the papers say. I know she's a different person. Or wanted to be." Which is pretty much the same as far as she's concerned. "So. We work on getting her back. We work on fixing her issue with the law. And we work on getting her some therapy, because even without the timeline swapping, she will need some."

“God, yes,” Richard breathes out a sigh, “She was getting better. So much better, she was trusting again, she was— she had support, real support for the first time in her life, and then— “ His hands go up, and then he takes a sip of his scotch, eyes closing, “I don’t think she did anything to Hana. Hana just sees the Work, sometimes.”

"We'll fix it. We're already in it for Liz and the other Ruiz and she's just another layer to the puzzle." Lynette is past the time in her life when anyone could convince her of acceptable losses. She spent a long time saving the world through battles and blood. "We'll get all of them back." Because it's about time they all get to save someone. "We have to keep Odessa alive, too. I don't want to know what happens if we lose one of them."

“At least when they’ve switched bodies,” Richard grimaces, “I shudder to think of what might happen if they switch back, and this Odessa’s… well.” He sweeps a hand dismissively, “Her ability makes her hard to kill, and she has her mother looking out for her too, so as long as she keeps her head down she should be mostly safe.”

He quirks a slight smile, “Just like old times. Planning to save the world, only now it’s one person at a time.”

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