Ocean and Gale


des2_icon.gif kaylee_icon.gif mateo_icon.gif richard_icon.gif

Scene Title Ocean and Gale
Synopsis The waves are crashing and the wind is howling. There are more questions than answers.
Date March 9, 2018


It’s been two days since Richard and Kaylee were trapped in Des Desjardins’s troubled and fractured mind. She hasn’t uttered a word since they woke up on the floor. Hasn’t eaten anything. Only takes water when someone tips a bottle against her lips.

But she has moved. She’s rolled over in bed to alternate between staring at the walls or the ceiling. Sits up on her own. Des is in shock, traumatized, but she’s still aware in there somewhere. Noise brings some reaction - either to flinch at something loud or to turn her head when someone speaks to her, even if she doesn’t lift her gaze to look at them.

Even Mateo’s piano hasn’t pulled her out from this state. Though when they brought her out to listen, she closed her eyes. There was even the ghost of a smile briefly, but through tears. When Kaylee reads to her - of all things, Through the Looking Glass - there’s a light in her eyes when something seems to strike as amusing. She’s still in there.

Friday morning sees the Ray siblings paying Des a visit in her room. Her dark hair is in need of a wash, but it’s been brushed out, her pyjamas are clean, and the latest evidence of her tears have been washed off her face. She’s sitting up in bed as Kaylee sits in a chair at her bedside, reading the storybook, her fingers are clasped loosely around Richard’s hand.

So far, nothing seems to have worked, which means that Richard is probably trying to come up with some sort of plan to break his friend out of that protective psychological shell she’s hidden herself away in.

“Obviously it’d be bad to use your ability again, Kay,” he says, his other hand covering Des’s as she clasps his first, watching her face even as he talks to his sister quietly, “Maybe a dreamwalker…? I don’t know who we have left, but I’m sure there’s got to be one somewhere in the city.”

“I know,” Kaylee says softly, closing the book after laying a bookmark on the page. The long dark floral skirt she wears pools around her crossed legs. Her hands fold over the book - while an odd selection; it had been handed to her by her son, Carl, to ‘read to her friend.’ You do not ignore something like that.  It had been kind of adorable really.

“I know one.” She admits this reluctantly. While she rarely had seen Delia Ryans in the years since the fall of the island, she had kept in touch in one form or another. “I am, however, not sure we should expose anyone to her.” Leaning forward, Kaylee sets the book on the table, next to Odessa. “Dreamwalkers can be easily trapped by telepaths.” She had done it to Delia, after all. Knowledge given to her by Hokuto. “Who knows what it was that trapped us in her mind.” The telepath shakes her head, “I don’t think it is worth the risk. We don’t know enough about it.  I’d rather go back in myself, then do that to someone else.” Which is really saying a lot.

“I don’t think it was a telepath. It was…” Richard’s lips twist in a grimace of frustration as he looks at Des, “It was like she was a prism— reflecting the other primary timelines. It isn’t the first time.” A confession of a secret as he looks over to Kaylee, but he assumes that Des wouldn’t mind this one being revealed at this point. “Back in twenty-eleven, she saw… what we saw in there, through the mirror. Edward killing her in the virus timeline.”

He looks back to the temporal manipulator with a furrowed brow, “But there were things we saw… after she was dead. How can that even be? Where were we?”

Brows lift at the admission, but there is no anger at not knowing. “It wasn’t,” Kaylee states about the telepath. “Telepaths can’t affect each other. When I am around Remi, it is like having a microphone too close to a speaker.” Which might explain why the women avoid each other so much. “So, I don’t think it was that.” Her hands spread a little, feeling a little helpless, “I don’t know what we were dealing with, but it managed to trap me and… I think what ever happen took control of my ability.”

It didn’t make sense to her, but… that is what she felt. Cut off and not in control of what was hers. She sighs and folds her hands together, head tipping down to press them to her forehead. Eyes closing for a moment. Maybe she is praying for answers — the thin cross has even now been a presence around her neck — or maybe she is just weary… with worries of the past have been surfacing again.

“Then there was the notebook… if I had only had more time…” Kaylee trails off. She had been moments from trying something. “They are all connected…” All the Odessa’s in each timeline.

On that comment, the door to the room opens, whistle the person opening it knocks. Mateo’s knocked most every time he comes in, even if they told him he didn’t need to. It’s just polite. But he does open the door as he does it, this time. He’s dressed in his uniform from the job he’s wanting to leave as soon as he can (cause he’s tired of cleaning up rat shit, which seems to be about the most abundant thing there is in this place). Likely, he’s just finished work and has skipped out on his usual after-work plans like playing the piano and changing into other clothes.

“Is she doing any better?” he asks, as he looks in on the room, toward the bed. He’s worried about Dess and has commented a few times that a hospital would probably have been a better option, but he understands why she’s wanting this instead. He doesn’t know exactly what she might be hiding from…

But he knew she was hiding.

They haven't precisely said that the hospital would be a poor idea for legal reasons but Richard's been very firm about not moving her to such an institution. A casual check she could probably pass, but if they started running her through bureaucracy… well, he's not sure how well he trusts the false identity that was built for her with Alia's help.

As the door starts to open, he holds up one hand a little to warn Kaylee to de-verbalize her current train of thought, looking that way - and then he smiles faintly. "Mister Ruiz," he greets, looking back to Des, "Not really. She reacts a little physically, sometimes, but not verbally. She's there, she's home, she just…" Frustrated, "Doesn't want to come out."

Going quiet, even before the hand is raised, Kaylee turns a pleasant smile towards the door as it opens. “Hello, Mateo,” she offers, before glancing at the woman on the bed. “She will.” The telepath seems confident of that. “When she is ready to face the world again.”

A side-eyed glance goes to the newly arrived gentleman, listening to the unique sounds of his own mind… it continues to fascinate her. “We just have the be here for her when she does decide and support her.” Rising to her feet, she offers Mateo the chair, giving the arm of it a little pat. “Come… sit. I’m sure she’d like to hear from someone else,” Kaylee chuckles sheepishly, “Rather then listen to me drone on.”

When she’s ready to face the world again. Mateo still doesn’t know the details, he didn’t have to know. Lynette had offered her a place when she needed it, and she needs it. Closing the door behind him, he nods to Richard. “Mr. Ray,” is given in a quick response. Kaylee can hear that soft ocean in the background of his mind again, always present. It’s soft, at least, not the roars that had happened later on.

Crossing the room, they can now see he’s also holding a book in his hand, as if he intended to try reading to her as well, but when he spots the book Kaylee has he grins, “That’s a little on the nose. But then so’s mine.” He holds up a copy of Ficciones that looks old and worn. And in Spanish. He leaves out that Borges took a lot of inspiration from Lewis Carroll. From chess, to the maze— to trying to take out the red king.

A lot of inspiration. In fact some of his short stories began with quotes from those novels.

“How far are you? Has she met Tweedledee and Tweedledum yet?” Where Alice believes she’s trapped in a dream, while the twins say that the sleeping Red King could very well be dreaming about her.

At the knock on the door, and the sound of Mateo’s voice, Des’ head slowly turns in his direction, though her eyes remain unfocused, gaze pointed more toward the floor than at him. The oceanic sound that comes from Mateo’s mind blends with the soft whispers from Des. The combination is like the wind through the leaves of a tree on a beach. It would be peaceful if Kaylee didn’t know the reality of it.

Fingers tighten ever so slightly around Richard’s. Why? echoes loud enough for Kaylee’s telepathic senses to pick up unbidden. It’s not the first time Des’ inner voice has been loud enough to hear. There’s been a litany of questions. Who am I? What happened to me? What was real and what’s a lie? This one comes with a tear rolling down her cheek.

As Mateo moves across the room, dark blue eyes track in that direction, even though they aren’t watching him exactly. Then, her thoughts are quiet again. Grip on hand loosens. Eyes go back to staring ahead. But her brows furrow slightly, like an expression of consternation over a difficult puzzle.

That hint of movement, that squeeze of fingers, has Richard's head coming back around to look to her. His fingers tighten back against hers, and he says softly, "We're here, Des…" The tear trickles down her cheek, then, and his gut tightens up in knots. He grimaces, reaching a hand up to gently brush it from her cheek.

"We're here," he echoes softly, "Come back to us, okay?"

He leaves Kaylee and Mateo to discuss Carroll; he only ever saw the animated version.

“Actually… We were just starting on when Alice meets the White Queen,” Kaylee comments, stepping aside so he can sit, ”And her precognition…” Her brows furrow as minds blend where he ability can hear it.

The telepath moves to stand next to Richard, hand moving to rest on his shoulder. “You… should read to her. Talk to her.” Even as she talks, her back straightens a little as she catches the woman’s thoughts. Kaylee suddenly goes quiet, obviously listening to something.

Before the men know it, Kaylee turns to settle on the bed, sitting next to the woman, “Odessa.” No reason to hide the name, since by the way Mateo says it, he knows. A gentle hand reaches out to gently touch her chin. “Look at me,” Kaylee whispers. “I hear you and I understand that your confused right now.” Her head tilts listening, but not intruding. “You are not the only one who doesn’t know who they really are. My whole childhood is a lie and I don’t even know the whole truth.”

“But, we can help you find out. I told you I would.” Kaylee glances over at Mateo, offering him a soft apologetic smile. “Besides…” She looks to Odessa again, leaning closer and whispers, “… you have one or two answers already.”

“Still think it’s maybe too on the nose,” Mateo can’t help but joke, thinking of the Red King, trapped in sleep. The eyes following him around do make that smile keep from getting too wide, too friendly, as he eases over onto the edge of the bed. He doesn’t try to take her hand, or lean closer to her face— she’s got enough people doing that right now, but he does rest a hand on her knee.

“You promised you’d show me your copy of this book,” The book he holds in his hand is far more worn than the one she inherited. It traveled in his pack for longer than he could say. It hadn’t a bookshelf to sit on. Just a bag, rolled up in clothes and blankets and whatever else he could carry with him.

“So you better wake up soon, mi parajita.” His little bird.

Something flutters in Odessa’s expression when Richard wipes her tears away. The confused look fades into something softer, but not quite as absent as before. When Kaylee touches her chin and reaches out to her, a telepathic brush against her subdued consciousness, she blinks and more tears fall from her eyes.

This time, the emotion is strong enough to cause that constricting feeling in her chest. Her shoulders hunch a little and she swallows hard. Any other time, it would look like she’s just fighting back the tears. Right now, it looks like she’s fighting coming back to herself.

Breathing comes in sharp, audible inhales and shuddering exhales. It may be heartbreaking to watch, but it’s the most activity she’s shown in two days.

Mi parajita, Mateo says to her.

Tete,” she responds in a whisper. Takes a deep breath, and settles down again. Like the waterworks hadn’t just happened. Unseeing, her free hand reaches tentatively toward that hand on her knee.

Richard's chin dips in a bit of a nod to Kaylee; he's been talking to her, of course, but it hasn't managed any good yet. Then there's that swallow, that tension in her, and he straightens - hope glinting in his eyes - and then she whispers, breath caught in his throat.

"Des?" A worried, hopeful whisper of her hand, his hand squeezing hers fiercely.

Relief settles in when Des seems to be responding finally. The hand drops away from the woman’s chin and Kaylee settles back with a satisfied nod; letting out the breath she had not known she was holding.

Eyes close briefly, as she listens to the blended sounds. It was curious. It tickled at that part of her mind that likes a mystery. The memory of an a little girl and a little boy comes unbidden, bring that back, brings back other horrifying memories of that event.

There is nothing else from her at that moment. Content to let the conversation happen around her.

Tete. That feels so familiar, almost like the name little bird just immediately came to him while they were talking. Mateo tilts his head to the side, looking confused, definitely not understanding why she’s calling him that, but knowing that it feels rightsomehow. The sound in his head takes on a new strange pitch. Still sounding like the sea, almost, but rougher. Like the tide was rising. His hand lifts and he takes the one stretched out to him. “Come back to us, Dess.”

Even as he says it, that ocean becomes a waterfall, like the sounds one might imagine they’d hear flowing from Niagara, hitting the waters below and turning to mist that fills the air. That mist might actually come from Des, but it’s hard to tell with the two of them so close together now.

“There’s a lot of people worried for you here,” he finishes, even as his hand tightens around hers.

Des closes her fingers around Mateo’s hand and closes her eyes for a moment. It looks like she’s lost in thought. Her brows pinch together. Kaylee can sense the difference, even though there are no thoughts strong enough to be distinct. The sound intensifies, though. Wind through the trees occasionally howling like a storm gale. Like it’s trying to push through something.

“It’s not a child’s handwriting,” she says clearly, though her voice is rough from disuse. Her chin tips toward her chest, though she turns her face slightly toward Richard, staring at a point somewhere between the bed and the floor.

There’s a rush of relief when she speaks again, when she’s emerging from that hiding place one word at a time, and Richard glances to the others with a hopeful expression before looking back to her.

“The… you mean on the tape?” His brow furrows a little, “What do you mean? Whose was it, then?” She obviously thinks this is important, so he’s not brushing it off.

The mention of the tape has Kaylee’s eyes snapping open, she had almost missed it, caught up in the fascinating thing happening on a mental level. The whole thing around it felt like ages ago and she had forgotten all about it and the writing, given what they had more recently been through. Brows furrow a little glancing between her brother and Des.

There she is.

Mateo doesn’t have the slightest clue what she might be talking about, they’d not told him much and hadn’t needed to, but he holds her hand in an attempt to help keep her there. The book is rested on the bed beside her, so he can take her hand in both of his. That whisper of water, mist and natures destruction continues in the back of his mind.

Or possibly Des’ as well.

With a quick breath, like she’s just come up for air after a long time underwater, she’s lifting her head and looking at Richard. Actually looking at him. “It’s elderly.” This revelation seems to have been important enough to wake up for. Or something to focus on that isn’t her own jumbled mess of thoughts and personal history.

She’s almost apologetic when she slips her hand free from Richard’s grasp so she can bring it over to clutch over Mateo’s other hand. “I know who we are,” she tells him breathlessly, tears in her eyes again. “I don’t understand it, but I know who we are to each other.” She looks over to Kaylee, like there’s something she wants to ask her, but instead just offers a shaky smile before looking back at this man who means everything to her. And now she knows why.

As she retrieves her hand to reach for Mateo’s own, Richard shifts back to give the pair some room - to let them have their odd reunion. “Elderly…” His brow furrows a touch, and he slants a look over to Kaylee. Then he pauses, that lined brow deepening in confusion, “Wait. It couldn’t be, not from him… he should have died in the Ark…”

A deep breath’s taken in, and he pushes himself up to leave the others to their talk, pacing away in the room, one hand rubbing against his jaw. He keeps an eye on Mateo and Des even so, making sure all’s going well there - even as he worries about the revelation just given.

Watching her brother get up, Kaylee moves to follow, but not before giving Des’ arm a quick encouraging squeeze. She wants to talk to Richard, curious about what was said, but also to give the other two privacy. What her friend had to say to Mateo, deserved that.

“What are you thinking?” The softly spoken words sound odd coming from a telepath, but she does try not to intrude…. Even if sometimes she can’t help but hear things. A hand is light on Richard’s arm as she asks, “Who?”

Unaware of what the others are talking about, or their implications, Mateo keeps his attention focused on the woman who’d been unconscious since she came here. There’s something ominous in his gut as she seems to know now, that sound in his head starts to get a new tinge to it, like something crashing into a wall. Or a window. Or— it’s almost as if when he tries to think about it too much it slips out of his fingers.

But Kaylee can feel it as a wall. A barrier. An almost solid obstacle that keeps him from thinking too much about something. A block. One different from the ones caused by the Haitian. One almost subtle enough she wouldn’t have noticed if he hadn’t suddenly slammed against it.

He doesn’t even seem to notice, “Do you now? Your employers still haven’t told me what happened to you. I guess they figured you wanted to tell it.”

“I…” Des hesitates, worry in her features. She’s afraid he won’t believe her, and she can’t really blame him if he doesn’t. If he’d told her, she wouldn’t have believed. But she takes a steadying breath, a quick glance in Richard and Kaylee’s direction as they try to puzzle out her earlier assertion. She’ll give them the clue she holds later. After this. It’s not very fair, but… Well, she’s never claimed to be good.

“Kaylee’s a telepath.” There’s a look of apology that crosses her face for a moment, but then she shakes her head. “I think you already knew that.” She’s here after all, and knows Lynette. If he didn’t know, she’d be surprised. “I knew something was… missing. Wrong. So, she and Richard meant to help me sort things out.” Des looks away again while she tries to sort out the words she needs. “We found some lost memories, I guess. And some that belong to other versions of me.” At least she’s already told him about her connection.

Des looks up at his face. Without her glasses on, she looks vulnerable and almost childlike with that wide stare. “You’re my brother, Mateo.”

There’s a very short list of people who might have access to a tape like that. A shorter list of those who aren’t dead. And then factor in age…

“An… old friend,” Richard replies, not without a certain wryness to the words, looking to his sister, “We used to play chess together, now and again.”

Then there’s the explanation, and he looks back to Des and Mateo with a reassuring smile for the former. “She’s right,” he adds in quiet support, “We saw that much.”

And more.

There is a moment that it looks like Kaylee is going to press for information, but something catches her attention. Richard will know the suddenly distant look of a telepath ‘hearing’ something, the hand on his arm suddenly tightening. Then she’s blinking… Relaxing…

Offering her own voice to confirm what they saw. “My specialty… it tends to lend heavily into memories.” Kaylee turns her attention to the newly discovered siblings. “So I assure you, I saw it myself.” She stops short of offering to show him, since it was a particularly gruesome scene. And then there was the matter of the block.

Like water hitting a rock, Mateo slams into it again. This time he seems to feel it, because that confusion seems to turn to a hint of a headache from the way his eyes narrow and the tension that forms on his neck. “It’s possible? I mean I didn’t know who my father was…” he trails off, even as he realizes that they are meaning an actual memory. Like they had met before, or…

He takes one of his hands away so that he can rub the back of his neck a little, not quiet understanding exactly what they all mean. They aren’t his memories. “I grew up in Argentina. I’m pretty sure you’ve never been there. And I’d never been north of Texas until a couple months ago.” His American accent is pretty good for someone who claims he was raised in Argentina, but he doesn’t even think that’s strange himself.

No, he still feels like he would remember this, why wouldn’t he? “Are you sure it was…” he trails off, looking at the other two. “Are you sure it was me?”

And not another him?

“You liked comic books,” Des says softly, attempting to offer evidence as to what she knows is true. “You had this shirt with… The guy with claws on it.” She snaps her fingers three times as she tries to bring to mind the name. “Wolverine.” That’s it. “I used to lay on the living room floor and watch The Wizard of Oz. You would tease me about it, because it was my favorite movie and I watched it all the time.”

She bites her lip, so afraid that this is going to be what he chooses not to believe. That this will be the thing that drives him away from her. “There are… There were…” She looks up to Richard and Kaylee with a helpless expression. “Please…”

Richard draws in a slow breath, then exhales it and steps away from his sister and closer to the pair again. “There was a group called the Company,” he says, regarding Mateo steadily, “You may have heard of them. They were in the news a lot, there were… trials. Most of what they did never reached the papers.”

“They thought they were doing what was best. Some of them worked to keep us, the Evolved, secret. Others had— other agendas. It’s a mess worthy of a James Bond film, really,” he admits, “And one of the commonalities of those who were involved with them for a long period was memory alteration.”

He clears his throat, “We went into Odessa’s mind to find entire sections of her memory missing. Years worth of memories. Others likely edited. We— “ He grimaces, “Somehow we broke through one of those blocks. Which is where we found you, Mateo.”

Kaylee doesn’t move to follow when Richard moves back to the bed, she stays where she is a little distracted…. Struggling with whether she should say anything to them about the block… the sounds. After the last trip, Kaylee wasn’t certain she was ready to do that again.

Fingers twist the wedding band on her finger, a simple gesture when she’s nervous…. But slowly, her resolve crumbles. On the thought that… she would want to know. She would not be her mother.

“I think, Mateo,” Kaylee starts slowly, voice soft with uncertainty, “You have had your memories blocked as well.” She starts… hesitates as if getting second thoughts, but then she shakes her head, “ I can…” she motions to her head, not really willing to look anyone in the eyes, “I can feel it there.”

On the one hand, that block feels like a dam holding back a river. On the other, like the hull of a spaceship, keeping the vacuum of space at bay. Mateo shakes his head, as if trying to think how this could be. “But I remember growing up. I remember my mom— “ reading him Borges. Why would his mother even read that stuff to a kid, who could barely understand? He never knew, he just remembered it. Vividly. So vividly he could repeat some of the passages from memory.

Did he ever even read comics?

The more he tries to think about it, the more a proverbial bird slams into the window, falling to the ground twitching. But thankfully, it doesn’t quite have that visible an effect on him. For a moment, Kaylee can almost hear it, whispers, like someone speaking in a language she doesn’t understand. It doesn’t sound like her snake, it sounds more like a rippling of water over rocks in a stream, soft but powerful. Could this be what would happen if she spent over a decade giving someone the same simple commands over and over to keep them from thinking too much about something?

He had said it when they met. His mother had been a telepath.

“I remember hearing about the Company…” The news had spoken of the American Civil War and tribunals, and he’d made some effort to learn about it because he went and married someone who participated in that war. And…

They knew about the Company too, a whisper comes from inside his head, before that wild river and waterfall drowns it out.

Instead he focuses on another thought, another question he wants to ask, “Why would they separate us?”

“I don’t know. I” That’s not entirely true. She does know in some way. Des closes her eyes and the noise in her mind grows louder, encouraging her to push. To break through. Knowledge is power, and the power within her craves more. “When I was just a kid. We were both just kids. But I… When I knew they wanted to separate us, something happened.”

Des clenches her teeth together, the emotion making her chest tight, forming a lump in her throat that feels like it could cut off the supply of oxygen. “I killed every last person who tried to tear us apart. I don’t know how, but I did it. One minute we were at the kitchen table, and the next… Everybody was dead.”

Her gaze takes on that faraway quality again, like it did when she shut down, but they can see her thinking. Processing. She’s still speaking. “That’s why they locked me away. I’m a monster.”

“You aren’t a monster,” is Richard’s instant insistence, a bit sharply cast in Des’s direction, pointing one finger at her, “There’s no way you could’ve done— what we saw happened that day. You aren’t Gabriel or Samson or even Peter — even when your ability was at its strength it couldn’t do what we saw there. I don’t know what happened, but it wasn’t you.”

He brings a hand up, rubbing between his eyes, “I don’t know, Mateo. I don’t know. But I will find out.”

He was never one to leave a mystery alone. Especially one that was hurting his people.

Why indeed…. “You’re not a monster, Odessa,” Kaylee echoes her brother. “I think… there is more to your bond then we are seeing…. I… just need more time,” to rest up… to gain the courage. Her ability is already hissing softly in her ear wanting to play with what she is hearing from the pair.

“I can’t explain it, but… I don’t think my work is done.” Or at least in her mind. “But… we also don’t know why they did this.” She glances at her brother, “There might be something dangerous, so… while we figure this out, we need to tread lightly.” The journey through Odessa’s mind proved that.

“Not everyone,” Mateo whispers quietly in the wake of Des’ confession that she murdered those who tried to seperate them. Someone still did, so obviously it didn’t happen the way she says. He doesn’t question that something did happen, though. “You’re not a monster,” he does echo Ray. And as he does there’s a soft sound in his mind behind all that noise. A statement that doesn’t quite make it all the way. What the telepath can make out through all the noise is a soft than me.

Then he looks away from his … sister … and to the other two, “How did you see all this?” His mind keeps slamming up against that wall, but he seems to have accepted this thing as a possibility. A strong one. One Des obviously believes.

Even if his mind is doing it’s best to tell him it can’t be true, that his mother would not have lied to him like that. Of course she wouldn’t. The wall itself seems to be reinforcing that view.

“I don’t know, Rich… But I know it was me. Somehow, I did all those things. I remember.” As though she saw it through someone else’s eyes, admittedly, through a haze of years and tampered memory. But Mateo is right. “I… I don’t know what happened, but someone must have managed to stop me.” There’s a part of her that wants that kind of power again, and a part of her that’s terrified of it. Rightfully so.

“I think something happens when we’re together, Tete.Big brother. The words flow from her like it’s the most natural thing in the world. “I’m not sure what, or why. But… when we play together, the music calms us both. And when our abilities interacted…” Des reaches up to touch his face, expression imploring. “Look at me and tell me you don’t feel it. They did something to us. And they probably thought they were protecting you. Probably from me. Just because they did awful things to us doesn’t mean they were all awful people.”

She knows all about doing the wrong thing for the right reasons.

Richard Ray frowns, but he doesn’t correct her again; arms folding over his chest, he steps back to lean against the wall and let the others speak on the whole matter of how they saw things and what they saw.

He slants a look to Kaylee, a brow raising a little.

The mention of their abilities interacting gets a look of interest from Kaylee and she turns thoughtful.

Moving to sit, Kaylee’s attention finally is turned on Mateo as she explains, “You know I am a telepath, like your mother.” that was something that her and Lynette explained to him, but she feels she needs to bring that point forward again… even if it is obvious.

She doesn’t wait for the confirmation before she continues. “I’ve… always been able to not just hear what people are thinking… I can see their memories, but I can also experience the memories.” Her hands spread a little as she says, “And I can share the experience with others…. It’s hard to explain.” She gives him a little smile, “It sounds a little weird, but we were in her head. We saw those memories.” And much, much more… but she does not go there.

Mateo shakes his head, half because he still wants to deny that everything he ever knew was a lie, and half because… “I didn’t manifest until I was in my thirties,” he says, as if trying to point out a fact that should contradict what she thinks.

But then the thought hits him. Had he? Was that a lie too? He they really split them up because their abilities clashed? Had— had something happened because of them? That wall gets slammed into again. He can’t remember hearing the sound in his head until that day. And he remembers that day very well. He did remember how el umbral had changed when Des had used her ability, the way the black vortex with colorless lightning had taken on a sickly green tinge. The way he’d felt afterward, like something was tearing away at him.

He shakes his head again, this time running that hand through his hair before he focuses back on the blonde telepath as she explains. He’d known she could hear thoughts, but memories? That waterfall in his head seamlessly shifts into a tornado, whipping up winds in a way that sounds like a train rolling by. It’s not a train. Or a tornado. It’s just loud.  As one might hear ringing in their ears.

For a moment, the lights in the room flicker, like a brownout, or a surge in the power.

Des knows what that means very well. Now, she holds both sides of Mateo’s face, turning him to look at her. “Mateo. You’re okay. We’re gonna be okay. We’re gonna figure this out and everything’s going to be fine.” There’s a pang of guilt that Kaylee can feel. Maybe I should have left him alone. Maybe he would be happier not knowing.

“Your mother… I’m sure she loved you. And she only did what she thought was best for you. What would keep you safe.” Des has never had that in her life, but she’s seen enough to know that’s what mothers are supposed to do. Read enough stories, at least. “I remember manifesting in my teens. I don’t know what’s real either. Except that I know you. And I’m not—”

Her throat gets too tight and chokes out the words. “Think about Chopsticks, okay?” She lifts her hands from his face and pantomimes playing the notes on an invisible piano. “Think about the music.”

As the room’s lights flicker, Richard’s eyes roll towards the ceiling. It could just be one of the regular brownouts that pass through the Zone on a relatively frequent basis. It could be. Somehow, though, he’s fairly certain that it is not. It’s that instinct of approaching danger that’s kept him alive over the years, a sinking feeling in his gut and quickening of his heartbeat.

Des’s reaction to the whole thing doesn’t help calm is worries one bit.

“Mmmmmaybe we should take a break here,” he clears his throat, pushing off from the wall, “I’m sure that Mateo has a lot to think about— “ Or not think about, as the case may be, “— and pushing this whole issue seems like a terrible idea at the current moment.”

“I agree with, Richard,” Kaylee comments, glancing at the flickering lights a little nervously. She doesn’t know much about what he does, but she recognizes that the flicker and the sound go hand in hand.

After what happened with Des’ head, Kaylee does not try to help with her ability, as much as it sings to her to calm him… to reinforce memories that could soothe him. The telepath is more worried that his mind might be that same minefield and she was not prepared to face that again. So they will have to rely on Odessa, but just in case, she stands again and backs away from the bed.

The light flickering is a warning. For him as well as them. This time, Mateo doesn’t panic fully when he sees them, because he at least knows why it is happening. What has caused his ability to activate, what is making him want to give into that sound that always calls to him. And it’s fortunate that another voice is screaming over the void. Without actually screaming.

“I’m okay,” he repeats what she said, even as those lights flicker again. He’s okay. Think of the music. Underneath that roar comes the sound of a piano, soft at first, then stronger. That darkness doesn’t manifest. But for a moment, they’ll all feel a breeze in the room, like the whole world decided to inhale all at once. For a moment, their ears will pop, as if the air pressure had changed. But it doesn’t last. It doesn’t grow beyond that.

“I’m okay.” he repeats once again. Only this time it might be true. In terms of not using his ability, at least. Okay in other ways, perhaps not. “Some time would be a good idea…”

She went into a coma pretty much, is it really any surprise this revelation would need some time to process? Probably not— even if he, thankfully, didn’t see as much as she did.

The change in pressure causes Des to freeze just a moment, but the fear never shows in her face. She just keeps steady for him. Like she’s seen Lynette do. Glancing to Kaylee and Richard, she gives them a small nod. Yes, she’ll stop poking the bear for today.

“There we go. You’re okay.” Des gives Mateo a reassuring smile and takes his hands in her own again. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you. I’m just… eager to find more answers. This can wait until you’re ready. I’ve been without any leads for this long, I can wait longer.” She squeezes his hands and looks down to her lap. “And if you’re never ready, if you never want to pursue this, that’s okay too.”

When the pressure in the room changes, Richard tenses up slightly, his own breath held even as the air around them withdraws slightly - and then the moment passes, and his shoulders sink in relief, one hand coming up to rub at his face. Thank God, he thinks.

Then he’s gesturing to Des, “What she said. We can take our time with this. It’s not like the past is going anywhere, after all.”


The telepath is still has she listens to the sound, as the air begins to move, curious and yet.. Nervous. Once the danger passes, Kaylee lets out the breath she wasn’t aware she was holding.
“Exactly, no reason to go rushing head first into this,” Kaylee offers in agreement, “You know how to get ahold of any one of us.” She steps back to where she can grip Richard’s arm, “For now, Richard and I should be getting back to the office before Sera thinks we went missing and called in the National Guard.”  Would she? Who knows with that woman. “Or.. probably more accurately… burn it down for the insurance.”

With his fingers tightening against Des’, Mateo closes his eyes and takes in another deep breath. It helps keep the void quiet, as he tries to focus on the music instead of— whatever it was inside him that always urged him to let go, give in. “You didn’t upset me,” he tries to say, shaking his head. He knows exactly what upset him, but it doesn’t matter right now.

“I will need to talk to Lynette.” The tension shows because he uses her full name, not one of his many cute nicknames. “Are you going with them, or will you be okay here for a while?” He’s not sure what Des plans to do, he just knows he needs to think.

And talk to Lynette. Though he may wait on that, honestly. Cause he knows it will be a difficult conversation.

“Thank you,” he adds, looking to Richard and Kaylee. “For helping Dess.” His sister…

“I think…” Des brushes her thumbs over the backs of Mateo’s knuckles, attempting to be a reassuring presence. An anchor to this space. “I think I’ll stay here one more night.” Not just for her own safety, but to be nearby in case he needs her.

She leans over and presses a kiss to his cheek. “Please tell Lynette I’m up for it if she wants to talk to me.” Des is sure Mateo’s wife will have questions. There always seem to be more and more questions.

The howling cry inside her head has died down now to a soft whisper again. A calm following a storm. She can’t think of what else she can possibly say to make any of this make more sense, and so she just squeezes his hands one more time before she loosens her grip so he can slip away again.

“Richard? Can you grab my coat? I need something from it…”
“I wouldn’t half be surprised if she did. You might want to see about a general health appointment for that girl, there’s something….” Richard pauses to figure out the right word, “…off about her.”

He nods, then, stepping over to retrieve the coat from where it’s hanging before coming back over to the bed - offering it out, his brows lifting as he looks between Des and Mateo. “If either of you need anything, or… if you have any more questions that we can answer, Mister Ruiz, don’t hesitate to give us a call.”

Lips pressed together on the subject of Sera, Kaylee nods at her brother’s suggestion, “Already planning on it.”

Moves over to the door and waits for Richard, “I echo that… If you guys need anything. You know how to contact me.” There is a brief pause before she adds with a little hesitation. “If we can avoid mentioning recent… happenings from reaching Joseph, I would appreciate it.”

“I think we all have secrets,” Mateo responds in soft tones. Yes, they do. He won’t be telling the woman’s husband anything that he doesn’t already know. But he hasn’t met the man either. He just heard him mentioned enough to understand who Joseph is and who he is to this one.

Setting down his book, he pushes it closer to Des and gets up off of the bed. “I— am going to change, take a shower— think.” All of those things.

“You can keep my copy for a while, though.” His copy of Ficciones. Which somehow managed to look older and more worn than the one she had. It’s the same edition, though. Could it possibly be the same book? There’s no poems or scribbles in the margins of this one.

Des takes her coat and sets it across her lap, nodding thanks. Then she looks at Mateo’s book and smiles broadly. “Thank you.” She likes it best when he reads from it - and she’s learning just how many words she does not say correctly, so it’s educational! “I’ll take good care of it for you.” It’s obviously just as loved as the other Ruiz’s copy, even if it has seen several more years of that affection.

One hand dips into the pocket of her coat, feeling around. She comes up with nothing, flips the coat over and checks the other pocket. A slip of paper is held up and out to Richard. “Your chess partner is looking for you.” Which is how she put together her theory about the handwriting on the videotape.

“I don’t tell Joseph anything that isn’t for public consumption,” Richard quips, “He’s a Baptist, after all. I only give confession at Catholic chur…”

He trails off at Des’s words, reaching out to accept that slip of paper. He stares at it for a long moment, and then crumples it up and shoves it into a pocket, turning on his heel to march out the door without another word.

It’s hard to read his expression. His thoughts? Well, Kaylee can feel those, a tumult of uncertainty on how to feel or think about this revelation.

While Kaylee is not so rude to look, there is no missing that change in the tone of her brother’s voice on the other side of her mental walks. Brows lift a little as she watches him storm out. “Huh… well.” Her son’s book is retrieved. “Well, I will see you both soon, I imagine.”

Eyes settle on Mateo, “Don’t forget that resume.” A wink is offered with a smile, before she too makes her leave, shutting the door behind her.

“Right. My resume,” Mateo nods at that, looking off into the distance for a moment. Des probably understands. He’s not sure how accurate his resume even is now. How much on it is a lie. Most of it had been forged already, due to the inability to get his papers from Argentina, but it had been forged truthfully.

As much truth as he had known at the time, at least. “Get some rest, Dess. We can talk later.”

He means it, as he walks out, to leave her alone for the first time since she got to the Benchmark this time. Since she’s no longer trapped within herself.

And he will see her again. After he has a chance to decompress. And figure out how much he’s willing to risk to learn the truth.

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