Quoth The Raven


lynette3_icon.gif mateo_icon.gif

Scene Title Quoth the Raven
Synopsis Mateo and Lynette discuss how it is he came to be shot by a dead woman.
Date May 9, 2018

The Benchmark Center: Ruiz Family Suite

The Ruiz Family apartment is a welcoming one. The morning sun hits the corner windows of the main room, giving the apartment a warm glow even through the curtains. A couch and coffee table sit opposite an entertainment system that was a bit of a splurge. But with the collection of movies, music, and games that sit there, it was a good choice for them. Near by, there is a pair of guitar stands, one of them quite small, where Mateo's guitar and his charango live when they're not in use.

The walls hold a gallery-style grouping of framed pictures. At the center is a panoramic of a beach in Mexico that is, quite frankly, gorgeous. But it also includes a photo from Lynette and Mateo's wedding day, Silvia covered in paint and laughing, the three of them squished together and laughing. And such things to showcase a happy family.

Silvia's artwork is sprinkled around the room as well, enough to show that her parents are proud of her talent and hard work, but not quite enough to be totally embarrassing. It's a delicate balance.

Off the living room, a hallway leads to the family's bedrooms while the other direction opens into a small kitchen.

When she left him alone for a few minutes, Mateo found he could not stay put in bed, even when he knew he should be resting. He couldn't look at the television one minute longer. He'd already seen every episode of that Ferrymen show that— well, from the way his wife sometimes laughed hilariously at it, he imagined it had taken some major creative license.

He could only watch television so long, only listen to albums and leaf through books he's read a dozen times one handed. He'd been especially interested in reading anything about Vanguard, lately, though he didn't explain why.

Not yet. He hadn't been ready yet.

When she returns, the bed is empty, a few books laid about, with small bookmarks. The Vanguard books, again.

But he's in the bathroom. From the sound of running water and the mild cursing in Spanish. He's inside, shirtless as he often is these days, to make the bandage inspection and cleaning easier. He's trying to shave, because his beard has grown out quite a bit, curling with gray and dark hairs. And he's having a difficult time with it cause the hand he wants to use…

Happens to be on the same side of the shoulder that got shot. Painkillers can only do so much.

Lynette is fairly quiet coming into the apartment, not wanting to disturb him in case he's sleeping. She heads to the kitchen first, putting down some bags (reusable, thank you) on the counter before she comes to the back to check on him. The curses are noted, as is the water running, but she still turns for the bedroom first. She sets a wrapped box down on his bedside table before she looks at the selection he's been reading. If he was closer, he would hear her sigh as she moves to pick them up and put them back on their shelves.

But her next stop is the bathroom. The door swings open without much of a warning and she looks over at him, taking in the scene with a small shake of her head. She doesn't say anything, just closes the door behind her and comes over to pull herself up onto the counter.

Her hand gestures for the razor, her expression equal parts patient and wry.

Without a word, Mateo looks at her for a long moment in the mirror before handing over the razor and moving so that she has better access to his face and chin. He's already accidentally knicked himself a few times, mostly on the neck, so it's probably best before he tries to do more. "It's hard to stay in bed and do nothing," he says, before she ever says anything about having not been in bed like he should be.

Being able to shave at least would have been something, it would have made him feel more like himself and less like…

Less like the person he had been all those years ago.

From the sound of his voice, he almost wants to apologize, or feels as if he should. But he doesn't end up saying it.

Taking the razor, Lynette pauses a moment to brush her free hand through his hair, letting her fingers settle against the back of his neck. "I know," she says to his words. There's sympathy in her tone, rather than accusation. No apology needed.

Her touch is gentle when she picks up shaving where he left off. Her attention moves off his eyes, of course, but her fingers twirl into his hair, like she wants to be sure he knows she's there for him.

"I'll find you something to do. Something that doesn't involve aggravating your shoulder." It sounds like a promise, by her tone. Although she's likely to still insist he get more rest than usual. She leans over a bit, cleaning off the razor before she turns back to him again. "I'm sorry. I know it's hard. Being in pain. Sitting around. All of it."

If he could have at least shaved himself he might not have felt as bad, but she'd been taking care of his wound, making sure it healed without touching it too much. Checking for signs of infection. Mateo knew she would have shaved him had he asked, just as she helped give him bed baths that tended to lead places that might have risked stressing his shoulder had she not been very careful.

But he still felt— like he needed more to do. Like he needed to make himself useful.

And as if he should talk about certain things. He'd avoided talking about the shooting itself, just saying that he didn't want to report it, how no one but him had been hurt.

Except for the blackout.

And maybe she would keep listening to those excuses—

Or maybe she wouldn't.

"Whatever you manage to find for me, I should stay inside. For a while."

Lynette doesn't seem to mind it, being caretaker. She's had only encouragement and affection since the moment she saw him lying on Raytech's floor. Mostly, she's relieved he's alive, so he's been spared a lot of things. Questions. Troubles. Worries. She hasn't mentioned her own frustrations, although she has been looking more stressed lately. Perhaps that can be excused away, too, without her explaining anything and putting anything more on his shoulders.

"Do you want to teach some of the clients to read music?" Lynette glances up from his jaw, her expression questioning. "I know a few of them would be interested. Enough for a small class." Her attention turns back to the work at hand, though, before she gives him any more cuts. But her hand pulls him in closer to her, as if she needed a better position for shaving. Really, though, she just likes him close.

"That's one idea. I can even play the piano one handed to show them where the notes are." Mateo responded thoughtfully, moving as was appropriate to assist her in shaving him, but he's careful not to mess her up, either. He already has enough cuts. He missed hearing the piano, misses playing it. He could still sing, but he hasn't yet. It required too deep of breaths for that.

"You haven't asked me to explain what happened yet," he adds after a moment of quiet. He'd not wanted to talk about it, not wanted to mention it at all beyond little questions. He'd said some things, but never all.

But he knows he wouldn't have been able to keep it a secret had she asked, either. And now that he wasn't possibly going to be trapped in a bed on painkillers all the time… it was time to ask those questions. Or answer the ones he knew she wanted to ask.

"If it works out," Lynette says, her lips curving into a crooked smile, "maybe you could try teaching me again. Of course, I demand private lessons." She leans in then, giving his lips a quick kiss before she leans back again.

That moment of quiet has Lynette's smile dimming. Out of concentration, at first. When he speaks again, it disappears for a different reason. She doesn't respond right away, taking the last few moments to finish shaving off his beard. She grabs a washcloth, getting it wet before washing the leftover shaving cream off his face.

"I didn't think you wanted to talk about it." She drops the cloth back in the skin and turns back to him. "Which of them was it?" Because she hasn't missed his choice of reading material. Or the fact that he didn't want to go to a hospital. Or tell the MPs.

From the small nod once she's wiping off his face, Mateo wasn't surprised she had gathered the identity of the one who'd shot him. He could have even involved SESA, considering, but— no, that would have required explaining why. That would have required context. Part of him almost wanted to turn himself in. Part of him thought he would deserve it.

"She called me Hati," he responds, shaking his head. He had been foolish to believe no one would remember him. Foolish to believe no one would recognize him.

Someone had remembered. Someone had seen him. Someone had tried their very best to kill him, even. "It was Munin."

"Munin?" Lynette doesn't bother to hide her surprise at the name. Last she heard, Eileen was very much gone. He can see her expression shift as she works out the possibilities. Confusion at first, since Lynette didn't personally see her die. It could have been a cover. Troubled follows, as other thoughts filter in. Cloning. Resurrection. And, of course, she knows there have been other otters; there could be other ravens, too.

"I think I liked her better when she was dead," she ends up saying, leaning on dark humor as she processes.

Her hands come to his face, thumbs sliding over smooth skin in an effort to soothe him. "You lay low while you recover. I can protect you here. And I can explain to Eileen, if I can find her." The idea of turning himself in doesn't cross her mind. It's not likely that she would entertain it, if it did sneak in there. "You're a different man now. Hati is in the past." Her tone sounds suspiciously like she's trying to remind him of that fact.

That he knew would surprise her. After all he'd read the books. Ruiz knew what they said happen, just as he knew that at least one author had speculated that Eileen had been the traitor to the Ferry the entire time. "I don't remember really meeting her, but that doesn't mean anything. Everyone knew who she was. That she was Kazimir's eyes. She probably had seen me dozens of times without me even knowing."

Watching him through a bird's eye. That had been how he explained it. And he had known her, instantly. From her shape, her size, her face.

"She said there were no such thing as a fresh start." Cause that's what he had hoped this had been for him. "She's right. I might have changed, but what I did… I still did it. It still happened. And she knew it." For all he knew, she'd seen him. She'd been there when he did things he couldn't bring himself to tell his wife about. Things he could never forget.

"Well, she's full of shit," Lynette says, bluntly. "Justifying what she wanted to do." Some people have vilified Eileen, some venerated her. Lynette has always lingered somewhere in the middle. "It still happened, but you're not the same now as you were then. And if she really believed that, that there's no fresh starts, she'd be turning herself in, wouldn't she? Sounds more like a threat than a judgement."

And by the way Lynette's expression darkens, she has followed that threat through to its logical conclusion. But she pushes that down and gives him a more sympathetic expression. "I'm sorry all that has found you here. I'm sorry I wasn't there to keep you safe." She glances away there, down between them for a moment. But she looks back up at him before long. "You say the word and we can take a trip back to our beach."

Hearing his wife curse almost makes Mateo laugh, because he knows it's all for him. She's mad for him. She's wanting to defend and protect him. And he loves that about her. He knew how helpless she must have felt, seeing him laying on the floor bleeding. The same way he'd felt helpless as he tried his best to get away. He could have fought back. He could have tried to hurt the woman who'd shot him.

But he couldn't bring himself to do that again. Not even to save his own life.

Running had been the better option. He wondered if Munin had understood that. That he could have done it so much differently…

When his wife mentions the beach, he reaches out to her, putting his hand behind her neck as he pulls her closer to press his forehead against hers, eyes closing. "I wish we could."

Go back to their beach. Leave this city behind. Hide from all of it. Maybe he could live without answers. He could live with just the two of them, just with Silvia. Maybe they could even talk Des into joining them. "God, I wish we could." Their beach. No murderous crows. No food shortages. No worries about the other otters. Just their little family. "But I think I've run from my past long enough."

He's not wrong. Lynette is mad. And she did feel helpless. And guilty. He's only here because she asked him to come. He's only shot because she asked him to come. All she can do to ease that feeling is throw herself into taking care of him. Not that she even really understands that herself, not on a conscious level.

Lynette sighs gently when his hand moves to her neck. Her eyes close, too, as she leans against him. His answer doesn't surprise her, but there's still some regret in her eyes when she opens them again.

"Okay," she says softly, "but we face it together. Like everything else." She may not have known about it when they decided to be together, but his past hasn't changed her determination to be there for him no matter what. "I don't like seeing you hurt," she adds, a stray thought that probably didn't need to be voiced.

"Trust me. I don't care for it much either," Mateo responds quietly with a small laugh as he nudges his nose against hers. No, he doesn't like it at all. "I had thought about turning myself in. That way I could tell them about Munin. But I don't really blame her, either." He knew what he'd done. He knew what he was capable of. How was she to know he wasn't the same man who'd been named Hati for wiping out half of a terrorist militia that Kazimir had wanted to absorb into his own.

No one could have known if he'd changed. No one could have assumed he actually had. But he also knew if he did that he might lose her. Lose this.

"But I'll lay low," he responds, pulling back enough to look at her, to try and give her a smile. His hand does not move from her neck. It's the one hand that doesn't hurt to move. "Maybe I can still get a job in Yamagato. They don't allow guns there anymore." It's half a joke. And only half. "But if you do see her— be very careful."

"Oh, you don't?" Lynette responds with mock surprise this time, but his laugh gets a smile from her, as does the nudge. "For a second there, I thought you were trying to catch up to my scars."

She lifts an eyebrow when he goes on, though, and shakes her head a little bit. "Well, I blame her. She could have tried to turn you in or called SESA or anything, but she decided to try to kill you instead. And nearly succeeded, I might add." Lynette gets through that sentence because upsettedness carries her through it, but a moment later her voice hitches and she looks away again. Although, there's really nowhere to look that could hide her fear from him.

Still, she looks back at him like she expects him to pretend it wasn't there, her expression dry. "How about we focus on getting you better first. Then we worry about Yamagato. I hear they have some pretty nice apartments there, though." That's her own concession to the half joke.

"I'll be careful. I only want to talk it out with her."

Mateo has all these reasons in his head why she had probably just done what she thought she had to. That she was protecting SESA and possibly even the civilians by trying to kill him before he could react. But instead he nods. His wife was probably right. She usually was. "And live away from this place?" is his response to the nice apartment line.

With that, he pulls her close again to kiss her. Just a gentle one. One he wishes could linger and become more—

But he needs to take his painkillers again for that.

Yeah, he doesn't like being shot at all.

"As long as you're careful. I should probably help you put away the groceries. I can at least do some of it one handed." Open cabinets for her, that sort of thing. It would make him feel useful.

That response gets a lift of her shoulder, like Lynette might be more than half serious about living elsewhere. Or, at least, the idea of being somewhere else doesn't get a kneejerk no, the way it would have mere months ago. But that's all the reply he gets because she returns that kiss instead. She also seems to wish it could become more, given the way her fingers slide up into his hair. And given that his words get a crooked curl of her lips as she looks over at him.

"I promise I'll be careful," she says, her tone implying that she's misunderstood what he was referring to. Or rather, that she's deciding to misunderstand what he was referring to. "I can be very gentle when I need to be." Her smile spreads into a grin, but when she slips off the counter and takes his hand, she doesn't head for the bedroom, but for the kitchen. Maybe to give some time for those painkillers to kick in.

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