Never Have I Ever


mateo_icon.gif nicole_icon.gif

Scene Title Never Have I Ever
Synopsis Impending nuptials are celebrated in traditional fashion: with tequila and naked ladies.
Date December 24, 2017

Once Upon a Time, in Mexico: A Seedy Little Bar

Christmas in Mexico. That's when Nicole finds herself called down to Mexico for an old friend. Not for the holiday, exactly, but for something much more rare. The wedding of said war buddy. One who had likely said, many times, that she didn't believe in marriage or true love or destiny and all that— but as soon as Nicole had seen her friend, well! Something had changed in her time in Mexico and it's all wrapped up in a compact yet handsome package known as her brand new fiance.

Mateo Javier Ruiz.

After meeting him, she came up with the absolutely brilliant idea to take him out for his bachelor party, since pretty much everyone he knew currently were living sober in the Benchmark. And really, she likely had other motives.

Before they left Lynette had asked her to go easy on him.

But this he did not expect.

For one, he had no idea there had been a strip club within thirty minutes of the Benchmark, and he never would have expected a woman to have chosen such a place on Christmas Eve, of all times. As they enter, he's politely trying to keep his eyes up there, not down there. They find one of the few tables and get seated, get the first drinks ordered and the whole time he's trying to look anywhere but the dancers.

This whole thing feels like a trap.

"How did you even know this place was here?"

"I Googled," Nicole replies simply. Whether it's true or not, who can say? "You ever been to one of these places?" Call her a bad person, because some people absolutely would, but she's enjoying watching him squirm just a little bit. But that's what best friends are for, isn't it? To go and haze their partners? If she ever managed to find someone dumb enough to marry her, she'd expect nothing less from 'Nette in return.

"Oh, I have," Mateo responds to the question truthfully, because, well, he had. "I even played at a few. Guitar or piano." Not taking his clothes off. He didn't feel like he had the build for that, but he's sure a couple people would disagree. Mostly Lynette. But he's still rather uncomfortable. "Not since — I got here, though." Got here. Met Lynette. For someone supposedly from South America, he speaks really good English, though, with very little accent. He must have been raised bilingual. He hasn't touched any of the alcohol yet, either.

"Relax, then. You know nothing's going to bite." Nicole grins. "In fact, they frown upon such actions in establishments like these." She, on the other hand, is not shy about - Well, anything. But specifically at this moment, her drink. She has a shot of tequila in front of her and Paloma. She sips on the latter, licking a little salt off the rim. "This is your last hurrah. And also, it's my birthday. So I would consider it your present to me if you would enjoy yourself tonight."


Mateo had not expected it to be her birthday. Had Lynette mentioned it to her on the way out during that whisper that they shared? Perhaps. Either way he hadn't heard it until this moment, and he looks down at the shot of tequila she'd already ordered for him and took it. A small drink, but a drink. "Happy birthday. Years ago a trip to Mexico would have been a even better birthday vacation than it is now." Then again, with the state that America was in… maybe this was still an ideal vacation spot.

This whole thing still feels like a trap, but he's starting to relax a bit more. Even if he still looks at their eyes more than their exposed bits as they dance. It helps that soft roar in the back of his head distracts him half the time.

"Hey, there's no place I'd rather be than with my best friend, no matter where that is. And you are the person who makes my best friend glow like she's a live wire." That's electrokinetic humor. They have a lot of bad jokes. Usually they keep them to themselves.

"So, I'm glad I'm in Mexico, spending my birthday with you." She lifts her shot and clinks it to the side of his. "Now drink up, pal." She knocks back her shot smoothly and sets the glass down on the table in front of her again.

Nicole has the good sense to wait until he hasn't got liquid in his mouth to drop this first question on him. "Did 'Nette ever tell you that everyone thought we were sleeping together?" She lifts her brows and smirks, like maybe it wasn't a rumor.

While he laughs a little, it's not the shock laugh that others might have had. "No, that got left out of most of the war stories. Considering they were mostly told around Silvia," Mateo responds with that humored tone to his voice. He tilts his head as he looks over the younger woman who somehow feels older just by the sheer fact that she's seen far more than she probably would ever admit to. Lynette also had that look.

In some ways so did he.

But what comes out next is said with a quirk of an eyebrow and a grin, "Were you?" It sounds as if he's teasing her, but not offended or disgruntled at the possibility.

He's right. In many ways, Nicole is older than her years, even if she tries not to act her age in any fashion. Like tonight, going to a strip club on Christmas Eve like an oversexed twenty-something. It's an image she'd like to sell, anyway.

Now, it's her turn to laugh. "God, I wish." Nicole's mouth cuts a devilish smile across her face. "Your fiancee is gorgeous."

"Don't I know it," Mateo responds with the same laugh, finding the whole situation even more humorous. "You're not bad looking yourself, of course." Even if he only really has eyes for one woman right now. He glances up at one of the strippers and quietly wonders if he would have found her very attractive a year and a half ago. Probably, cause he'd been living alone for almost five years by that point, barely spending any time in towns unless he needed to work for food and other things.

Which had been when he played places like this.

With a shake of his head, he looks back at the woman across from him. "So. Know any good drinking games? The Benchmark frowns on such things, but hey, I'm not one of their patients." At least not about alcoholism.

Nicole follows his gaze to the dancer and makes certain she isn't grinning by the time his attention turns back. He's finally starting to relax, which is exactly what she wants for him. "Thank you," she says to the compliment, lifting her Paloma as she nods gratefully. After a drink, her brows hike up. "I know all the best drinking games. You ever play Never Have I Ever?"

"I think I've played a version of that at University," Mateo responds, though he's not certain the rules were the same. "We usually played quarters, since— men. Always need to one up each other." Drink each miss, and everything. He recognizes that men are a little odd about that need to be better than the other. Or at least like to play up that bluster. It wasn't a game if there wasn't a competition about it. "What rules do you use for this one?"

"I've played my share of corporate dick measuring drinking games," Nicole confides. She didn't rise to the heights she had ascended by not proving she could drink just about any man under the table. Or at least force them to drink themselves into a stupor. But she's only competitive when she's working. This? Is strictly for fun.

"It goes like this. The first player gives a statement that starts with never have I ever, and if the other player has done this thing at any point in their life, they have to take a drink. Simple enough, right?"

"Fair enough," Mateo responds with a laugh, thinking of the few corporate people he'd known while working for power companies. They had almost been the worst with the need to one up everyone else in the room. Male, female or otherwise. Of course in Argentina professional females were still a little on the rare side.

"«Paloma, we're probably going to need the bottle»," he calls over to her in Spanish with a grin. A bottle will be coming shortly to help keep the game going once they down their current shots. "You start, since it's your game."

"Well then!" Nicole claps her hands and rubs them together, an eagerness in her expression and a light in her eyes that has nothing to do with her ability. "Neeever have I ever… stuck chewing gum to the underside of a table." Let's start benign.

No drink. In fact, he kind makes a face at that. "I never really cared much for chewing gum," Mateo admits, but that's not the reason he never stuck it under anything. He would have swallowed it first. He also doesn't give away, yet, that he worked as a janitor and after scrapping that shit off of many desks and tables— yeah. Never ever.

"Never have I ever… owned a dog." Sad, but true.

"My sister stuck a wad of it in my hair once and I had to get my hair cut off." It's funny now, but it wasn't so much then. "It was an accident." Somehow. To his question, Nicole's hand stays on the table. No dog for her, either. "Never have I ever had a crush on a teacher."

That one causes pause. Almost as if he's trying to decide if something counts. Finally he takes a drink. Mateo puts the shot glass to the side, to be refilled later. Almost at the same time said bottle arrives with a smile, that he returns, before looking at Nicole and explaining, "Never one of my teachers, but definitely someone who was a teacher. Though I suppose one of them did teach me a few things." He doesn't elaborate on that, even as he shakes his head with a small laugh. Okay…

"So what happens if you say something that you have done? Do you drink too?" Important question, possibly. But even as he asks the question, he adds another. "Never have I ever had a crush on my boss."

She laughs at the explanation, pleased to see him loosening up. "I bet they did." She slides the bottle over to herself to fill her glass. "Yes. If you've done it, too, you have to drink." His new question causes her to pause and run her tongue over her teeth. "What has 'Nette told you?" Nicole asks with a conspiratorial grin as she lifts her shot to her lips and downs it.

Then refills it and drinks it down a second time. One for each boss she's had feelings for. "All right. Now we're getting into the swing of things." She refills her glass for the next round and leaves the bottle sit between them. "Never have I ever had a threesome." Her fingers hover over her glass while she waits to see what he does.

Wow, two drinks. Mateo raises an eyebrow and nods. "Almost all of my bosses were complete assholes." And even then he does take one drink. A small one. "It was a small crush." Very small. He won't elaborate unless she asks, cause he doesn't know about her past that much. "Lynette didn't tell me much beyond that you fought side by side and worked in the Ferry together. You were the other half of her twosome team."

He tops off the shotglass, but doesn't touch it when she asks about the threesome. Cause— no. Never been there. He does politely wait a moment in case she needs to take a drink.

But now that they've broken the ice on the topic of sex… "Never have I ever had sex with a stranger, and by stranger, I mean someone whose name I didn't even know."

In that moment he allows her, she does take that shot, because she has had threesomes. "I'd take one for each," Nicole quips as she pours another shot, "but I was prolific in University, and I'd rather not have my stomach pumped tonight."

She chews on her lip as he poses his next question. "Does it count if I peeked at their ID before they woke up the next morning? No, probably not." Nicole sighs and takes another shot. "Prolific," she reiterates.

That makes him laugh. Like, genuine laughter that touches eyes and makes his shoulders shake. Mateo hadn't really known for sure if she had, but… "Yeah, no need to get stomachs pumped. I'm not sure I'd trust these hospitals and Lynette would be very upset if we both missed the wedding." And there's some 'totally have's that could cause them both to be unconscious or dead if they drank one for each.

"I was little more reserved. Or picky. Either one."

"Discerning," she offers. Then she holds up one hand like a white flag. "I need a break. And probably about a litre of water." Nicole's hand slaps down on the table surface and she belly laughs. "Look, I may be…" She tips her head to one side, staring at something past Mateo's shoulder. "I didn't know the human body could bend like that. Holy shit."

"Take as long as you need," Mateo responds, not admitting that even after a few shots he'd probably be needing a drink of water himself. That roar in the back of his head is still there, but thankfully he's not pulling anything together. Maybe it doesn't know what to do with itself when he's buzzed. He hasn't actually gotten drunk in a long time, so— he has no idea what would happen.

At her words, though, he turns to look around and see what she means, because, well— how is that human body bending.

"Right?" Sure enough, there's a dancer who probably was a contortionist in a more respectable circus that didn't pay as well once upon a time. "I wouldn't need a man if I could do that." Nicole snorts and leans back in her seat, smirking as she waits for him to turn back to her. "You are really cute, you know that? I am jealous."

Oh, he's seen the human body bend in many ways one would never want to imagine. They just didn't tend to live through it. Mateo shakes his head, trying to dispel that terrible memory and almost wanting to take a drink as he does. But he doesn't. If that game starts up again…

"Sounds like you're jealous of both of us," he teases as he looks back, not even trying to hide the grin that comes to his lips. He'd be jealous of himself, so. "We could keep playing, but with sips instead of you want. Or empty glasses. I don't want either of us passing out." It's the game more than the drinking, after all. "Or you could just tell me about those bosses you had crushes on."

"That's exactly right." Nicole snaps her fingers and points at him. Slick. Then, she's weighing her options, tipping her one to one side, then the other. "All right. So, I aim high, right? Small fish? Not my thing."

Under the table, Nicole stretches out one long leg and rests her foot on the seat near to Mateo. Not encroaching on his space, just getting comfortable. It's storytime. "I have been in love with a notorious organized crime leader and an American president." These are things she would not admit to if she were in the United States, or in the company of anyone other than Lynette's most trusted. Or Lynette herself, of course.

That makes him blink. More than a little. "I hope not the flying one," Mateo responds after a second. Because, well. That would be a little awkward, considering some of things he'd done. And certainly not the one that came after. "I mean he wasn't bad looking, but…" There are pictures to explain why he would think that. "But good looking doesn't save someone from being a dick." And if anyone had been a dick, it had been that President. And the next one who'd waged a war and needed to be thrown out of office. And executed.

Nicole squeaks a laugh, eyes big and horrified as she slaps a hand over her mouth and shakes her head. "Oh, gosh, no. Not him," she says after she drops her hand back to the table. "No, the one before him who got elected but didn't serve." Maybe they didn't hear so much about that outside of the US? "I ran his campaign." For a moment, her smile is sad. This wasn't the best idea she's pursued lately. "He was a good man. Didn't love me back." She washes down the bitterness of that admission with a sip of her mixed drink. "Neither did the mobster. Not that I ever tried to find out."

Slender shoulders come up in a shrug. It was a lifetime ago now. "I have terrible taste in men, for the record. Lynette will tell you if she hasn't already. I'm only good at recognizing the good ones after they're taken."

That president he didn't really know much of. But he had been aware of international politics enough to know that one had been elected and never served. And somehow what had happened had saddled the country with someone they didn't actually elect. "And there's so few of us," Mateo has to admit with a grin. "Before Lynette I only really ever loved one person." It's a confession of sorts, since she had to tell about her past loves. "I thought I could never love anyone else again after, but then I met her and…" For the first time that noise finally found something to quiet it.

Again. In a totally different way.

That wolfishness she's been wearing all night is given up in favor of something softer. Nicole plants both feet on the floor again so she can lean forward and rest her elbows on the table in front of her, cocktail and shot in between. Her chin rests in her hands. "I hope someday I meet someone who looks the way you do when you talk about her." And that makes her feel at least a fraction as happy as Lynette looks with him. "You're pretty okay. I guess you can have my blessing." There's that smirk again.

At the mention of how he looks when he talks about her, Mateo can't help but look down and feel mildly sheepish. He knew the whole Benchmark knew about them the moment it started cause of how he looked at her. Even when they'd been dancing around keeping it casual. He wasn't a casual kind of person. Once it started, there was no going back. "I didn't think it would ever happen, so if it can happen to me, it can happen to a former war hero." Cause— well—

He doesn't exactly consider himself a person who deserves it. "But I'm glad you approve. I'm pretty sure Lynette wants you in the wedding party and I'm not sure that would work if you didn't like me at least a little."

There's a flinch, a wavering of her smile, when he says those two words: War hero.

Nicole recovers quickly, a mild expression as she raises her brows. "No, I'm sure it wouldn't. Fortunately, I actually like you quite a bit already." She lifts her cocktail for another sip, pausing a moment to see how she feels. "Did she ever tell you how we met?"

And that's the reaction he's kind of used to seeing from Lynette when he mentions 'war hero'. Even if she seems willing to let Silvia believe that at least. She doesn't seem to, though, which Mateo finds rather upsetting. More of a war hero than someone who didn't even bother to go up north and help, at least.

"No, not really. And I'm sure you'd tell if different than her, anyway." But the past had never really been an easy topic for either of them.

"Oh, probably." It's much easier to tell stories about things that happened before the war than during. Even if Nicole doesn't regret the time she spent with Lynette during those years. Or the work they did and the lives they saved. It's the ones they couldn't that weigh on her. She takes a longer drink from her Paloma this time before giving the short version of how she and Lynette first met one another. "I fucked her not-quite-boyfriend."

"Not the best boyfriend if he'd gone and slept with someone not her," Mateo responds, putting the fault on the one who had been not-quite-taken rather than this woman he just met. It depended on how not quite taken they were. "But that's a piece of history that won't be repeating," he responds with a small smile, even as he looks at the drink that she took one out of. Maybe they should have started with that for the drinking game. "But that explains a few things." Like how Lynette had been when they first started… not quite seeing each other. "For a while she seemed to be convinced I was going to leave her."

"Yeah, I mean… It's more complicated than that, but it always sounds funnier when I tell it that way." Not that she really tells that story all that often. Depends on how much shock value (haha) she wants to deliver. "She was never the commitment type, I don't think. Hell, neither was I." Except when she got pregnant and thought it was what she should do. "I guess it's all about finding the right person. I'm glad she found you."

Then, because Nicole can't let things stay serious for too long, she nudges his leg under the table with her foot gently. "So you're saying I've got no shot? Really? Fuck, I must be gettin' old."

While Mateo doesn't think her way of telling it is necessarily funny— he can see why she does it that way. It's a self-depreciating way of putting things, making herself look bad in retrospect. He does the same things sometimes, just not over this. "Lynette and I have never really gone into the stories of our past relationships." They hadn't shared their numbers, or anything like that, either. But he won't say he had a test ran to double check things on him just in case, cause better safe than not.

"But no. I'm a one lover at a time kind of guy. I'm not great at sharing, and don't expect others to be, either." That last bit is a joke, but he meant the first part. "But no, you're not old. I'm pretty sure you're technically younger than me." Whatever technically means.

Nicole would be impressed if she realized just how well Mateo has her figured out already. She's got an inkling as it is, which is why she approves of her friend's choice of partner. Her partner's choice of parnter? That phrasing brings an unbidden smirk to her face. "Then I'll owe her an apology for kissing and telling on her behalf." She holds her hands up in surrender. She may not be about to behave, but she'll at least not reveal anything else she might know about Lynette's love life. Which is, admittedly, not a whole lot.

Brows shoot up toward her hairline at that comment. She's met enough people who've traversed through time to jump to the wrong and less innocuous conclusion. "Everyone knows women are considered old much sooner than men. You get to be silver foxes, pursued by much younger women. We get to be cougars, and considered predatory. Nobody assumes the younger men are chasing us." Nicole chuckles quietly at that and shakes her head. More salt is licked from the rim of her glass before a long drink. "Numbers don't matter anyway. It doesn't matter where you've been before," she insists. "Only where you're going. Together."

She hits a little close to home with the silver fox bit, cause Mateo rubs the little graying area near his ear self-consciously. Not self-conscious enough that he's raided the hair dye areas to get rid of the gray, but he's beginning to show his age. Which isn't ten no matter how much he likes to joke. Still smiling in amusement, he pours himself another shot of tequila and raises the glass, "That sounds like something she'd said before. About only the future mattering." He didn't like to talk about his past— there were—


But the past didn't matter as long as they had each other.

The cocktail is swapped for the shot glass, which Nicole raises. "To Lynette," she suggests. "Without her, neither of us would be sitting here today." That has multiple meanings for her. From the way he looks when he talks about her, Nicole is sure it does for him, too.

"I can see that," Mateo responds as he takes another drink. Small sip really, he's not intending to come back to the Benchmark too wasted— the smell alone might trigger someone. They'll probably have to sneak back in at this rate— something he has a feeling Nicole would be very good at anyway.

"But it must have changed, somewhat. She was the one who asked. If you could call it asking." It had not been a traditional, down on the knee proposal. He looks distant as he mentions it, distant but happy. Then he refocuses and adds, "I'm glad we found each other." Again. He doesn't add that part outloud, but there's definitely something there.

"So you just haven't found the right person yet, man or woman?"

"No, not yet," Nicole admits with a shrug of her shoulders like it doesn't bother her. Except that he can tell it does, to some extent. "I have a five-year-old daughter. Makes life interesting, but it's an added complication for finding a partner." She doesn't mention that the father of this five-year-old is the man she sort of stole from Lynette. Whoops.

"Okay, so I confessed my two previous entanglements. Now it's your turn. You said there was only one other person." Nicole knows better than anyone that this might be a tragedy, but she's slightly too buzzed to care.

"I suppose fair is fair," Ruiz responds with a wry grin, that the longer it last seems— half forced. Like he's trying to keep smiling cause the alternative is unwelcome. He glanced over at one of the strippers and tilts his head a little, before looking back at Nicole instead.

"My last relationship is kind of a long, sordid story, but …" He tries to ignore that sound in the back of his mind that almost drowns out the music. A sound he knows all too well. One he hated, so much… And a sound that only quieted for one person, and became a kind of music around the other.

"He and Lynette might as well have been the sun and the moon," he responds as if it were a joke before downing the rest of that shot glass.

Nicole drains her shot and this time pushes the small glass aside without refilling it. "He, huh?" She nods appreciatively. "Switch hitter. Something else we've got in common." She leans forward again and rests her chin on her interlaced fingers. "Sordid, huh? Those are my favorite kinds of stories. But… I won't pry if it's painful. I know how that is." Something else they might have in common. "I am, however, happy to lend an ear if you'd like one."

"I could hardly deny Lynette if she had had a past relationship with such a lovely younger woman." Cause despite his fiancee's insistence that she's still twenty-nine, she happens to be older than the woman in front of him. Since they had talked about age. Mateo looks at the empty rim of his shot glass and pours another, because— maybe he's not drunk enough for this conversation. "I was having a rough time around the time I met him. Jose." A hand scratches at the hair behind his ear, almost in nervousness.

"He was— very open. In many ways. You kind of remind me of him, a little. Very forward about his sexuality." He's not sure if that had just been because she was drunk or trying to trap him, but he felt she was forward— even if he felt it was different than his strange past love. "Before him, I'd had casual relationships, nothing that really stuck, but— I haven't told Lynette. I don't think she'd feel different about me," Well, maybe he had thought so, people were strange sometimes. "It'd just never really the right time to talk about an ex who's gone." The final kind of gone, from the way he says it.

That's something she understands all too well. Nicole shifts, pivoting a wrist to transfer her chin from backs of fingers to one palm. The other hand reaches out to clasp his. "Hey… I get it. I lost… I lost Allen, too." She smiles sadly. "I don't talk about him much anymore, even though I still think about him a lot. Lynette would understand, too. She's good like that." That sadness transitions into something more reassuring.

"I'll take being open as a compliment. I used to be closed off. Cold and cruel. Didn't get me very far." There's a little bit of humor at her own expense as she adds, "People may think that I'm a whore, but at least they don't call me frigid." Except when she doesn't sleep with whoever's offering, whether or not there's the promise of the exchange of money. "So, what else? Tell me more about him."

"I was very serious, if you can believe it," Mateo admits with a laugh, but the more he talks the more it seems his smiles and laughs always hid something. Maybe he was still serious, he just tried to laugh and smile more. "Serious about my work, about my music, about my family— everything. And then it just all…" He shakes his head.

"My mom died. My ability manifested. I was wreck. And then he showed up and treated me like I was desirable and worthwhile and…" He shakes his head. Almost as if he still had issues with that feeling. "He was an instructor. Seemed to know everything. A little older than me, but you wouldn't know it. Sometimes he seemed like a child, sometimes like someone much older than his years. And yes, he'd been the teacher I had a crush on. He'd always call everyone nicknames, but he treated me like I was… important. And I needed that at the time."

He leaves out that he still does, as he downs that shot he'd poured himself. Now he's caught up with her.

More nodding. More empathy. "I understand that… so well. When I left home… I was a mess. All I wanted was for someone to care about me, but that's not what I thought I wanted. I thought I wanted to make people hurt as badly as I hurt." It seems she's rather serious as well, under her relaxed exterior.

"Then, this man came along. Said he'd gotten my name from one of my professors, and that I was just what he was looking for in his organization. Offered me an internship that, if it worked out, would lead to employment when I graduated." Nicole smiles somewhat fondly, but there's something else underneath it. Not quite sadness or anger, but maybe self-loathing. Disgust. "And it did. I made myself into this person that my new boss could be proud of, because I desperately needed someone to be proud of me." She looks down at the table, then glances over to the bottle of tequila again like she might pour herself another shot. But she stays her hand for now. "So, maybe it's not quite the same. You seem like you stayed true to yourself. I became a chameleon because I had no idea who or what I wanted to be."

"Actually," Mateo responds with a laugh. "I would be stuck drinking if I tried to say Never Had I Ever done the same exact things. I was— definitely self-destructive after… after my mother." Who he wanted to call mama still, but stopped himself. "He helped me find a way forward." Not really back so much as… forward. Though. Maybe there had never been a way to go back.

"I do know I'd probably be dead or in an Argentine prison if it weren't for him, though." He's not afraid to admit that part. Not in the least. "And I definitely wouldn't be here, about to marry a woman who is so far beyond what I deserve. One day— you might find the same. It took us almost forty years to find each other."

"I wouldn't be who I am if I hadn't taken his offer. If I hadn't jumped at the first chance to get away from home." If her parents hadn't given her every reason to want to escape and take the first offer on the table. Nicole shrugs. She can't quite say she's made peace with it, but it doesn't haunt her the way it used to. "Sometimes we do things that aren't… great, but that lead to great things."

Blue eyes shift to one side under brows that have knit together in consternation. "I'm usually way more eloquent than that. Even with tequila." Her lip curls in annoyance with herself, then she looks back at Mateo. "I'm a politician. We drink professionally."

"No, you're right— everything I did led me here," Mateo responds, turning his arm around so that he can look at the tattoo between his wrist and the crook of his elbow. A maze. A complicated one. With a eclipsing sun in the middle. "Sometimes you go down the wrong path and have to turn around, but eventually… it might lead to the place you're supposed to be. But you can't forget you went the wrong way once."

Or at least, he doesn't feel like you should. The wrong way would always be the wrong way…

And some don't turn around and try to find the right one. But he would like to think he did. "I'm sure if you had something to eat to go with it you would have been fine."

Nicole studies the tattoo while Mateo talks, smirking faintly. "That's really poetic when you put it like that." That smirk softens into a smile, full of fondness. "You're a good egg, Mateo Ruiz. I see why Lynette likes you so much. And I know you're going to take care of her without me having to level some meatheaded threat at you."

Her lips press together then, suddenly emotional. Nicole leans back in her seat and laughs at herself through her tears. "Holy shit," she breathes out in a rasp. "My best friend is getting married." She reaches up and wipes the first tear away with only the faintest look of anger at herself for it. "Sorry. I mean obviously I realized that, but I guess it hadn't sunk in. I'm so happy for you both. Lynette really deserves this. You do, too."

For some reason, that is what makes Mateo Ruiz blush. It wasn't all the sex talk, it wasn't finding out she might want a threesome with him and his future wife. No, it was her complimenting him and saying he deserves happiness. Lynette and happiness, which happens to seem wrapped up in the same package.

"I certainly hope so," is what he says, cause— happiness is never guaranteed.

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