Parental Issues


lynette4_icon.gif richard4_icon.gif

Scene Title Parental Issues
Synopsis Richard has absolutely zero good news for Lynette.
Date February 8, 2020

The Benchmark Recovery and Counseling Center

Connecting to network…
1… 2… 3… 4… 5…
Dialing contact: Lynette Ruiz

Once upon a time, it was illegal to drive and call someone on your cellular phone. These days, nobody’s going to pull over Richard as he drives back into New York City, holding a phone to his ear in one gloved hand and his other on the wheel, watching the road from behind dark sunglasses.

He’s not quite the same person he was yesterday. But then, who ever is?

It only takes a couple rings before Lynette picks up on the other end.

"Hello," she greets, and although there is the sound of a young girl chatting away in the background, it seems distant enough that Lynette is free to talk. Likely because she isn't the only adult around at the moment. "Lynette Ruiz." If she sounds overly professional, it's only out of habit. Most of her calls are work related these days.

“Hey, Lynette,” Richard greets, his voice a bit tired, a bit strained, but the friendly warmth to it is genuine at least as he hears her voice, “Been awhile. How’re you doing?”

A checkpoint looms ahead, in the midst of a gate that leads into the Safe Zone. Other vehicles lining up for inspection, mostly trucks and other shipping vehicles. The car pulls into the line, settling behind a semi.

Across the bumper, a HESSER FOR PRESIDENT sticker has been slapped. Because he hasn’t had enough reminders of the past lately.

"Richard," is said happily enough to prove she wasn't expecting this to be a social call, her tone leaving the professional tint behind. "It has been some time. It's good to hear from you." There's a chuckle when he asks how things are, and she notes dryly, "Raising children, running a business. You know." But something hits her a moment later, because her voice becomes more serious. "Are you alright?" It's not just conversational, a toss of small talk back and forth, but genuine concern.

Most of the time when people call her out of the blue, the news isn't good. Especially her friends with certain inclinations toward trouble.

That question’s answered with silence for a few long moments, before Richard admits openly, “No. No, not really, but there’s— nothing you can do there, so don’t worry about it.”

He clears his throat, “Wish I could just be calling to invite you over to dinner, let our kids play together, all that, but… ah, sorry if this is a sensitive subject, I honestly don’t know. When was the last time you talked to your mother?”

"Well, you'll just have to forgive me for worrying anyway," Lynette says, regretful that there is reason to worry. "If you ever need to talk…" The offer is open ended, should he ever need with no expectation of fixing anything, but rather to unload.

But his question surprises her. "My mother?" A scoff. Like perhaps he's joking and she's waiting for the punchline to hit. But no, she doesn't suppose he could be so cruel as to joke about that particular relationship. "Honestly, it's been a long time. Why, did she die or something?"

And that's a bit of the old Lynette shining through. From before Mateo, before recovery, before the war, when her best defense against pain was a sort of nihilistic sense of humor mixed with emotional distance.

Yeah, he was worried the answer would be something like that. Richard winces a little.

“No, she’s not— so I’ve been piecing together the time that the Company had redacted, finding a lot of parts of peoples lives that were completely erased, replaced with fake memories, and— I really didn’t expect to find you and Ruiz there as kids. Or to recognize your mother for that matter, um—”

He grimaces, pulling forward as the truck ahead of him moves, “This feels— awkward to discuss on the phone.”

Lynette lets out a heavy sigh at the mention of the Company and her family's apparent connection to it. It's a recent revelation for her, and she wasn't entirely sure— or, perhaps it's better to say, she was hopeful that it wasn't part of her timelines. She isn't sure how to take it that he recognizes her mother, but braces herself for the worst.

"Come to the Benchmark. Upstairs. There's a safe place to talk."

The outside of the Benchmark is a professional looking affair, but when one knows where to look, there is a staircase around the back that leads directly to the apartments on the top floor. Which makes sense, no reason to have anyone living there have to go through the clinic to leave or come home. But also up there is a large community room, although right now it's empty of anyone except Lynette herself. There are couches and chairs, tables, a small kitchen… a place for people to be comfortable.

But apparently also for people to be uncomfortable, since she perches on a stool in the kitchen, with another nearby and freshly perked coffee in a pair of mugs. Both black, one because that's how Lynette likes it and one because she's leaving it to Richard to fix his how he likes it.

The gleam of silver on a wolf’s head, a glove closed on it. A dangerously familiar motif might be recognized as Richard steps into the community room, one hand coming up to pull the shades off his face and tucked into a pocket. Maybe he’s just trying to make sure she doesn’t have to wonder if his eyes are blue now.

(They’re not, for the record.)

“Hey,” he greets with a faint smile as he heads for the kitchen, “Sorry I only seem to stop by when something horrible’s going on.”

"It's alright," Lynette says, nudging his mug in his direction, "Seems to me we don't have a terrible lot of time without trouble." She gives the cane a glance, then looks back up at him with an arched eyebrow. "Going for a new look?"

Perhaps she's just postponing the subject of her mother, but that particular cane does push itself into the forefront of conversation. But, she gives him the chance to choose his own favorite topic a moment later. "Is that the something horrible or is it my mother? Because I could believe either."

“No, your mother’s fine,” replies Richard, glancing down to the cane and back up with a shrug of one shoulder as he steps over to the kitchen, reaching out a gloved hand to collect the coffee, “I mean, I was a little surprised to find out she’s been working for me, but…”

He takes a sip of the coffee, eyes drifting closed. Quietly, he says, “Nathalie’s dead. I’m carrying two of the conduits now, so— like, don’t touch me or anything.”

It's only a few comments, but Lynette suddenly feels like she has to process quite a lot of information. She blinks. She glances toward the door, as if Mateo might materialize right there before she has a chance to break the news to him a little softer. But she comes back to Richard after that glance.

"I'm so sorry," she says, probably for the loss, but also likely for the burden. "Hands off, I promise," she adds, a little more lightheartedly. It doesn't last very long though. "How are you… handling just… all of that?" Because it's a lot. She lets out a quick, but heavy exhale before lifting her mug for a drink. "As for my mother… what do you mean she's been working for you?"

“Terribly. I have an appointment with a shrink, though. Also, Raytech’s out of lab rats,” Richard says, trying to lighten the moment. It’s not actually a joke, though, and even if it was that’s pretty dark humor. He offers her a faint, sad smile, shrugging one shoulder, “I think I’m holding up better than Epstein, at least.”

The black coffee’s lifted up, and he takes a sip, eyes closing, “Um. What do you know about your mother, so I don’t rehash?”

"Well, therapy is a good place to start. Perhaps someone can convince Avi of that one of these days." Lynette does mean that sincerely. If ever someone was in need of therapy… But at the same time, she doesn't seem to be holding her breath. At least it proves she doesn't consider herself still on the clock at the moment. Maudlin thoughts are reserved until she clocks out for the night.

Her head tilts as she considers what she knows about her mother. Lately the answer seems to be less than she thought. "Aside from our personal interactions," she says as dryly as possible, "I know that she brought me to something involving the Company. With Mateo and Odessa as well. I'm not sure what it was. Mateo and I… saw it inside of El Umbral, but not the whole story."

“Well, I mean, uh…”

Richard regards her over the edge of the coffee cup with those dark eyes of his, hesitating for a moment before asking,

“…you know she was married to Simon Broome, right?”

Lynette stares at him for a long moment. Long enough that it definitely answers the question for her. Why did she give up drinking? Smoking? Her crutches would be very helpful right now.

"I…" she says, the word drawing out as she searches for her internal balance, "didn't know that, no. What? Simone Broome the… acting head of the f— " She stops just short of a curse, reminding herself to breathe. "Is she Institute?" Present Tense. It might be gone, but it's never really been gone for Lynette.

Richard winces at that, one hand coming up to rub over his face. “That’s what I was afraid of,” he mutters, taking a sip of the coffee, “So, uh… yeah. And no, she’s not, the Institute’s gone and as far as I know she was never involved in it— she’s been operating as a consultant for me since Simon died of old age.”

“They probably— erased all that from you. She brought you and Mateo to Arthur, way back in the day, when they were fighting the Dragon the first time.”

"Not involved, but complicit," Lynette says, standing to her feet as if she can't just sit anymore. She turns away, her hand coming to rub against her forehead for a long moment. One thing at a time. First: oxygen. Second:

"Do you mean she's… in New York? Richard, has she been in New York this whole time?" There's a lot to unpack, but Lynette isn't thinking about the Dragon or the distant wrongs her mother has done to her, but the ones happening now.

“Not… the city,” Richard says carefully, watching her with a frown, “She has a place upstate, though. I can get you two in touch. She— you have a nephew? A half-nephew. Desmond’s kid.”

Wait, shit, did he tell her about Desmond yet? Wrong order, wrong order!

"She's been in New York. Wow." Lynette shakes her head, inner turmoil showing in her hand running through her hair. Rain hits hard against the window. Was it raining when he came in? It wasn't.

But it is now.

Thunder rolls behind their conversation and Lynette turns back to look at him. "Desmond… Harper?" And lightning strikes perhaps a little too close to the building for comfort. "Desmond Harper is her son. And Simon Broome her husband. And— " And what is she? Breathing comes shorter, the storm outside rages harder. "Tell me where she is. Don't get us in touch, tell me where she is."

“Now, hold on, Lynette…” Richard sets the coffee mug down, pushing himself up to his feet and holding a hand up, “Remember, Arthur had like— half of everyone’s lives redacted, it’s entirely possible that they didn’t even remember you…”

A grimace, “And— it’s possible that I— the other I— didn’t tell them.”

"She remembers me," Lynette says, shouts. It's a wonder no one comes running, but then… she did say this room was good for this sort of talk. So perhaps it's not that surprising. "Broome, Harper, that's just another bad thing they did to me if they did know. And if they didn't, it doesn't really make it any better. But she remembers me." Her hand slams against the counter and the lightning crackles in time.

She seems to notice her own lost temper as she steps back with a series of blinks. She looks out the window to the rain and she lets out a disappointed huff. The storm doesn't go anywhere, though, no matter how her outward demeanor calms. "I'm sorry. You're trying to help and I should not be taking any of this out on you. You said we were there as kids— to handle the Dragon?" It's a shift, if not a very far one, but enough that she's able to talk about it without yelling.

For now anyway. Who knows how any of this will come out when she tells Mateo.

“I’m not going to… defend them,” says Richard, edging the coffee mug away from where Lynette’s hand came down in case she electrocutes the counter or something. Wouldn’t want to break the good ceramics. “But to be fair, I do know that she wasn’t involved with anything to do with the Institute by then— she’s been pretty much retired for decades, I think. She hasn’t had a lot of answers for me about that era of the Institute at all.”

A slow breath’s drawn in, then, and he nods twice, “Yeah. They used you to power Mateo, and they had Delilah’s father— guy named Niel— to pull out Odessa’s power and use it too. Don’t know the fine details yet, but my people are still looking.”

He clears his throat, “If, uh, a dead guy named Walter Renautus shows up, he’s with me.”

"Where was she? During these last few decades? Because she wasn't with me or my father. Did she leave them, too?" Lynette lifts a shoulder, as if to say she doesn't care— even though she obviously does. "It doesn't matter. She wouldn't give you the answers that I would need from her. But I will warn you not to come to depend on her too much. She comes and goes when she wants. She's the goddamn wind."

She sits down, hands around her coffee as if that might anchor her. It doesn't, but she tries.

"So we locked it away. And we let it out again." She sighs there. Today is a lot. It's not regret— not really. She and Mateo would have done more to get their son back. But she isn't happy about that particular side effect. His last words pull her out of her inner monologue and she looks over at him with a tired, but amused look. "Of course. Dead guys named Walter will be welcome here."

“I’ll send you her address, in case you— in case, whatever,” Richard gives his head a tight shake, “Just— family’s important, Lynette. All of it is. I’ve been learning that the hard way.”

The mug’s picked back up, and he offers her a faint, apologetic smile, “But uh— so that’s all the life-changing information I have right now. How’ve you and Mateo and everyone been?”

"She chose not to be my family," Lynette says, her tone as level as she can make it. "But I take your meaning." She breathes a little steadier and the storm outside slowly eases to a gentle drizzle. Not gone completely, though.

Lynette laughs lightly when he goes on, though. Small talk after the jarring revelations. "We've been alright. Silvia moved out— not far, but not here. So that's been an adjustment." Really, she would like to take the children— Silvia included— somewhere safe to hide them until it's safe again. But she doesn't know anywhere that's safe from what's coming. And she does know that 'safe' never really lasts, wherever they go. "Mateo and I both lost our powers after… New Mexico and mine's come back… different," she says with a glance to the window. "I haven't had trouble controlling any power since I was a child." She looks back to him again, giving a dramatic sigh this time as she notes, "So this is kind of annoying."

Richard’s gaze drifts to the window, watching the rain continue to streak across the window despite the fading of the thunder. He brings his mug up to his lips, and he quips just before he takes a sip, “Could be worse.”

“You could’ve gotten Helena’s personality too.”

A smirk answers his quip and Lynette gestures to the room where she'd been standing. "Who says I didn't?" Her hands come up to wipe at her eyes, although it's only barely needed. It makes her feel better. "Although, I don't plan on running any underground terrorist organizations. Again."

Or yet, maybe. Who can say.

“Don’t say never again yet…” Richard gives his head a slow shake, his eyes closing, “We’ve been… entirely played, all of us. I don’t know how to catch up, and I don’t know how things got so far without me noticing, Lynette. It’s— gonna be bad, whatever’s coming.”

He looks tired. Tired, and guilty. She’s seen the same expression in the war veterans who failed their companies.

Lynette's expression softens there, and she tilts her head toward him. "It's not your fault. The state of the world isn't on your shoulders, Richard. I know it feels that way, but the truth is… we can't control or even truly predict how every other person is going to act. And unfortunately, there will always be people who grab at power and use it for the wrong reasons. And if there's need to act, well… there's a lot of us still here. And willing to do our part." She starts to reach over, but remembers his warning and brings her hand back to her mug. "It's always bad. But that's never stopped any of us before. Whatever comes down, it's not your fault."

“Edward could,” Richard mutters against the edge of his mug as he lifts it back to his lips again, his eyes closing. “And… they have someone like that, I think. Something Naidu said, it’s been coming back around and around in my brain. I think they have someone like Edward leading them through a new pattern, and…”

He exhales a sigh, “I don’t know what mountain to move to stop them.”

"In the war," Lynette says slowly, as that's not a pleasant time to remember, either. But hell, they're already neck deep in unpleasantness. "In the war, move one was always to take out supply lines. Find their Edward, whatever it is, whoever it is and take them out. Of the equation," she adds quickly. Although it was not her first thought. "Find out what this Naidu's support system is and pick at it until it crumbles. Bases, generals, food stores, money, all of it." Lynette opens her hands as if it's really that easy. But as a place to begin, it makes sense to her.

“So you think we should go to war with Mazdak?”

Richard arches a brow… and then taps a finger on the edge of his mug. “I suppose it’s possible. I need to get more… operatives, though. I don’t have many people left that actually work for me anymore. The occasional favor or help, but as far as competent operatives, I’m fairly low. I mean, not counting all the support staff at Raytech, who aren’t exactly useful in hunting down terrorist cells.”

He grimaces, “The Deveaux Group convinced me to sit back and let them run the show. Mistake on my part, clearly.”

"To me, it looks like they already shot the first volley," Lynette says, nodding toward the cane and all that it implies. "Assuming they're the ones who tried to kill you and Nathalie. I don't wish us all into another war, but if there's someone out there trying to ruin what we fought for? What we've all been building? We may not end up with a choice. Or, at least, not much one. Live in their world or don't." Lynette sighs at her coffee, a frown coming to her face.

"I really wanted it all to be over." She built a life on that hope, a family. She's not the only one.

“Yeah,” Richard sighs, shaking his head slightly, “Yeah, so did I. I have Liz back, I have my kids, I just wanted to… now I can’t even hug them.” He grimaces, “Well, once more into the fray. I swear, Lynette, I should just take over the world.” He brings the mug back up, “It’d just be fucking easier than dealing with this every few years.”

"We'll fix it," Lynette says, as far as him being able to hug his children, because that's something truly cruel. She lifts an eyebrow as he goes on, expression wry. "Don't do that," she comments, "then we'd just have to come after you." It comes with a smirk and a sip of her coffee. "But maybe if you could just make it so we rule ourselves for a little."

“I’ll put you in charge of mental health for my faceless legions of doom,” Richard offers hopefully, eyebrows raising a little, “Whaddaya say?”

"Hmm," Lynette says, smirk deepening, "I'll think about it. Not every regime has an eye on mental health." Obviously her regime would be all about it. State Assigned Therapist.

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