Scene Title Tete
Synopsis In her imprisonment in the Commonwealth Arcology, Destiny's trend of loss continues, and she discovers new possibilities.
Date December 25, 2018

She’s running. Her lungs are burning from the exertion, one shoelace has come untied and she stumbles, clutching tightly to her father’s hand. He seems so incredibly tall, his strides impossible to match. But she has to, because there’s a broken corpse — with dark hair and eyes that look like hers, fixed in a glassy stare — laying on the shag carpeted floor of their house. That used to be her mother, and the monster that killed her is hot on their heels.

They’ve made it to the car. She doesn’t remember climbing inside, but she’s fumbling with her seatbelt, hands shaking. It’s thankfully easier than threading through her booster seat, which sits in the back. She’s not supposed to ride in the front seat, but this time, that’s where she is. There was no time to argue.

There’s blood all along the side of her father’s face, illuminated by the street lamps as they race down the road. It’s run down his neck and has soaked into the fabric of his button-down shirt. He flashes a worried look into the rear view mirror, then tries to look reassuring when he catches her looking at him.

Everything’s going to be alright.

The words echo in her ears later even after Jimmy has gathered her up in his arms and carried her off to a bedroom to wait while he gathers up bags that seemed to be packed and ready go. Like he knew this would happen.

I need you to look after her.

There’s a hushed conversation coming from the vaguely familiar living room, and she only emerges to eavesdrop when she can’t hear her father’s voice any longer.

He’s sprawled on the couch, unmoving and staring unblinking up at the ceiling. It doesn’t occur to her until later that he wasn’t staring at anything at all. Like Mommy. Daddy?


Destiny wakes up screaming in a tangle of blankets. She counts breaths and seconds, waits for the familiar sound of footsteps. She knows exactly how long it takes for James Woods to make it to her bunk from his. But they’re not on the Featherweight. This is a room both familiar and not. She spent years living in a room just like this one, but not this one.

And just like then, he isn’t here. But now, he’ll never be here.

The sound of her own breathing is too loud. A mournful wail comes up from the depths of her and lasts as long as she can possibly give it breath. But the sound doesn’t end.

The Ark


December 25

10:20 pm

No, that’s not her. Those are klaxons.

Untangling herself from the blankets, she goes scrambling from the bedroom into the darkened living space and out into the hall. Warning lights flash and a trail of blood is smeared from the wall, down and onto the floor, leading back the way she came. When she turns back, the room is bathed in red emergency lighting. And there’s a figure collapsed on the floor near one of the bookshelves.

She knows that figure.


Tete!” Des goes racing back into the inexplicably lit space and to her brother’s side, slipping on the blood on the floor — his blood — and falling into a heap beside him. She scrambles up to her knees and reaches out to touch his face, as if to make sure he’s real. “Tete, I’m here!” She grabs the front of his shirt and tears it open so she can get a look at his injuries.

The apartment had once been rust stained on the walls, but now it looked clean, shiny even, as if they had been polished. But instead of the rust stains scarring the walls with deep reddish flakes, there’s blood, like he had leaned against the wall and slid down it next to a bookshelf. A bookshelf with only a few books, but books that had not been there a moment ago. One book stands out to her memory. Ruiz had always read that one. Ficciones. A few more sit nearby, well read, but they don’t stand out as much.

There’s blood on him, as he looks up, hair much shorter than she remembers. Shorter than the last time she saw one of him. The short sleeves of his shirt bare his arms. Arms that lack any kind of decoration, unlike the one who wore her watch. This one had no tattoo.

But he also had bullet holes. Three of them. Yet eyes that were somehow content. “Des,” he whispers quietly. “I knew if anyone found me it’d be you…” As she rips through his clothes to reveal his chest, he laughs a little, the sound hoarse and… a little wet. “Not really the time for taking off clothes.”

She always had liked to steal his shirts.

Des’ mouth forms a thin line as she stares at the wounds. She doesn’t know how bad they are — she’s not a doctor — but they look bad. At his joke, tears form in her eyes. “It’s not my fault Dad always bought you the cool shirts.” They’ve both come a long way from her running around the house in his too-large-for-her X-Men tees.

“I— I need to find someone. I need to get help.” Des looks over her shoulder, back out into the hall. “O- Odessa. She can— She’s a surgeon.” But if she leaves, he’ll be alone.

Again, her eyes settle on his familiar face, looking him over for signs that he’s real. “Did you find the garden?” she asks in a quavering voice. “Did— Did you come back?”

Part of her already knows the answer.

“No. I don’t think— I don’t think I’m coming back,” he laughs a little, shaking his head. “You haven’t changed a day…” Dark eyes slide over her slowly, before meeting her face again. “I found you here,” her brother whispers quietly, reaching up to take her scared hand in to his bigger one. “You looked older. I didn’t recognize you at first, but you were like I always imagined you’d be, when you got old enough.” There’s a tired tone to his voice.

Suddenly she can hear a klaxon alarm blaring in the distance. Had it always been there? A voice yells over a radio that echoes into the room. It sounds garbled, like multiple out of sync voices yelling all at once. Like a radio that’s tuned wrong, with parts cutting in and out in places.

W͇ͅAR̝̱̤N̲̜̼I̖N̦̪͎G͙͟:̦ ̷͉̮̜͕̜̼͎R̢̘̫̝̦͔͈͔E͙A̲̺̦C̨͖̥̜̹̙T̻̮̺͍̝̳O̠͙͈̪̙̞͢R͈̹̲ ҉͔̯͓͚̫A͙̗̥̜͘ͅͅT̯̦̩̯́ C̥͎͢R͔̱I̦̮͇̥̺̭̺T͏̫̤̝Ì̟̣̲̳̪̖C̹͟A̧̫͍̰̬̥̮ͅL͈̭͍͙ͅ.͏ ̟͜Ḙ͈͢V̼͓̞̤̝͜A̱̪̥̬̥͇C̤͇̝Ụ̶̩̠̫̫A̷͕͉̫T̡̫͔͔̤͖E̬͖̟̻ ̶̯̩̟AḺ̨͔͍L͙͙̖̙͈ ̬P͉̲͝E̩͝R̞͍̤͝S̸̥̦̫̥O̰̠N̴͙̜̣̭N͇̯̞̗͕͜E̻̘͓͕L͙̯͕̖̜̪̜

“I saw how you’ll be eventually. You’re going to be beautiful, mi pequeña ruiseñorita.” It had started young, but he had always called her his little nightingale. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to leave you,” he continues, voice growing more and more tired, but his hand remains strong around hers.

W͠҉̸̙̮̜͉̯͍̖̖A̵͕R̸̨̢͍̲͉̙̱Ń͉̥̝͇̟̦͇̪I̴̡͖͕̞͓̻̥̗̱ͅN͈̟̪͜͡G͏̦̠̗̬̘͔͎́͠:̢̣̝̗̣̼͝ ̷̭͔̬̮͙̲͚̮R̶̩̟͎̟͕̜̲͙͠E͏̙̭̙̜A̵̜̙̪̣̳̝̟͉C̠ͅT̨̹̪͔̱̠̼O̪̼̟̬͚̜̳R̸̡̭̺̭ ̷͖͓̙A̛͈͉T̴̸̹͖̝͇̼͚ ̼̥͓̞̲͍̀̀C̶̰̯͈͇̫R̪͉̤͚̘Ị̫̯͕͚̕͡T̵̨͚͚͕̰͔͞I̢͏̮̮̰͇͖͙̼ͅC̶̜̟̮̼̥͖̹ͅA̸̮͉͎̕L͏̵̖̦̻͟.̬͙̮̭̳͍̕ ̨̢̺̣͚̠̲̲͘E̡͚͙̦̬̕͜V̦̮̳͙̮͔͞A̴͕̠̺̘̦͘͡C̛̲̺͇̖͝͡U̵͈̖͚͍̥̪͠A҉̱͚T̴̢̯̥̹͙È̯̘̕ ̞̖͉̫̪̺̟̲͢A̘͢Ḷ̗̲͖͔̘̻́͜͞L̙̻̤̀͡ ̩̠̙̠͈͚̮̮̀P̶͏̯͙͜E̢̧͓̟̮͉͡R̪̭͚̤͡S͏̴̡̟̗O̹̤N̜̫̙͢͞N̩̱͎̲̻̬̺͡É̙͓̦̫͟L̫̻̺̼͓͓͈̹

No,” Des moans, clutching his hands tightly. “Don’t talk like that.” Blue eyes squeeze shut tight, trying to block out her overwhelming emotion. The voice on the radio is unfamiliar, what of it she can pick out. The reactor?

“I’m— ” She stammers, forcing herself to look at him again and soak in the reality of this moment. “I’m at least twice the age I was when you left,” she insists half-heartedly. It was so long ago. “I never stopped looking for you. I never, ever stopped. I knew— I knew— I knew.” Knew he was out there somewhere, waiting for her to find him.

“You’re not really here, are you? Or… I’m not where I should be.” Des looks around her again. No, she’s not in Kansas anymore, Toto. “Please, Tete… You can’t leave me again. I’m all alone.”

The very air starts to hum, as if they were inside a giant bell that someone had struck. It teamed with energy, a feeling not unlike what she’d felt the first time she’d witnessed his ability, so long ago. But El Umbral did not explode into being, it did not pull on the air— but everything seemed to desaturate in her eyes, like a television losing color, or someone who turned it down too low.

“Other side of the rainbow…” the older brother responded, with that soft amusement still in his voice despite everything. “You were here— she was here— the two people I wanted most. And this time I got to save her. That’s all I wanted. It was my fault. I couldn’t hold on. But here— here I could save her.” He’s definitely rambling now, until he seems to realize something as the klaxons scream out again.

W̔̍̄ͥ̈͛A̷̾́̓͑ͮ̏̌ͮR̶̢̐͊̊͑͆̏̿̍ͩ͟N̂̾̐͝I̶̅͛̓̉͛͟N̴̴ͮ͆ͣͬG̡ͧ̈́͜͞:̶̎̎ ̒̆͊̇̓̐͢Ŕ̑̆͛ͯ̚͝͏̶Ę̛̌̀́Ả́C͆̐ͣ̓̏ͮͧTͨ̅͟͝O̢ͮ́͢͠R̸̶̛ͥ́̄ͮ̔̄ͥ̚ ̔͒A̶͗́̋͟T̓̀͞͞ ̂͒ͨ̉̈́ͫ̕C̢͌̓R̛̊̎̑ͩ͌ͭI̊ͩ͌̀̕T̑̒͏Ǐ̛̿͊̒̓ͤ̄̌Ç̵ͧ̓̈́̐̽̈́ͫͭ̿͟A̐̈̆̂L̀̿͋̌̊̚̕͟͡.͛̀̉̈ͮ͑̔̽̚ ̎̎̆̇ͫͧ̀̀E̋̊ͯ̅̉̕͠Ṽ̿͆͢͞Ā̧ͭ͋ͫ͂ͧ̀͘C̸̍͋͛̇͒̋U̾̓ͪ͌ͤ̌ͩ͡A͋ͮ̀͏͜T͊ͤ̀̓̾͋͡͡E̸͋̾ ̶ͧ̏͢Ȃ̶̡̏ͭͥ̓̈́͋̚L̷̐͘L̸̀͆̃̒̓͝ ͭ͛͆͂̎̇ͯ͘͞͠P͗͗̔̑ͮͣ͆͜Ę̵ͧ̆̐R̨ͯ͂́ͪͩͦ͡S̨̛ͭͫ͐ͯͬ̒͑́͘O̶ͤ͑ͪ̊͜N͋ͩͥ̊ͧͣͭ̇̾҉̕N͛̈́́E̵̛͗͐͑̑͏L͒ͤ̐ͪ̐͆͂

“You’re never alone,” he suddenly adds, the hand holding hers growing a little looser, weaker, as if he’s falling asleep even. “Don’t get lost like I did. A nightingale has to be free to sing. And that’s where you’ll find me… in your— ” The words are cut off with a cough, one that darkens his lips, drawing stark contrast to his paling face. There’s far too much blood staining his ripped clothes.

It sounds like the end of the world. But who better to face it with than the one she’d go to the end for? Tears sting her eyes and fall down her cheeks. The humming is felt inside of her bones. It should be disconcerting, but Des has always found it comforting. Their abilities sing together in harmony, like they had done as children.

He got to save her. He’d accomplished what he set out to do. He’d saved Lynette. And he’d seen her one last time. Destiny blinks heavily and leans forward to rest her forehead against his as he speaks. The cough startles her and she reaches up to touch her cheek instinctively, eyes wide with horror as her fingers come away red.

“No!” she cries. “No, you can’t—” She takes her sleeve and tugs it down over her hand, then uses that to wipe the blood away from his mouth, trying to clean up his face. She can’t save him. “I love you.” She swears to it like a solemn vow and leans forward to press a kiss to the corner of his mouth. “Mateo.

“I know, I love you too. Always have,” Mateo whispers through the weakness. “I don’t want to leave you alone, I never did…” Saying each word seems difficult, but at least he’s getting the words out. “But you’ll be fine. Find your wings. Sing your song… remember you’re stronger than you and anyone else thinks.” A hand goes up to her face, to tap his finger against the tip of her nose, like pushing a button.

The world shivers again. She can almost feel the way space and time seem to be stretching out around her, like the way the world had felt that night when the sky changed, when the auroras started to appear.

W̴̬̜͙̮̬̳̮͚̲̯̳̱̪̰̙͎̬͚̍ͧ̊̅̎͡A̵̵̟̪͔̬̺̣̪̖̳̲̾͐ͩ͗̌ͯ̈̍R̸͔̯̖̭̥͖̠͔̻̘͓͓̥̳̩͐͗̃͋͊̐́ͬ͒͗̊̑̿ͨ̇̚͘ͅN̢̺̭͎̹̙̖ͮ͆ͩ͋̑̄ͤ̌͛̋̆̐̍ͪ͌̕Ī̧̞͚̪̱̺̥͉̤̹̩͎̼̺̗̣̲͓ͧ͂̓̈́͗̈́͋͋́̌̔ͬ̕N̨͕̺̬̤̝̍ͦͭ͋͗́͜͟ͅĢ̨̭̥͇̹͓͓̖ͫͬ̊ͧ͑̏͘͡:̡̃ͩͧ̑͆̏̈͌͌̍̌̐ͪ̀͌̂ͪ͏̻̮̞̰̩͉ͅ ̶̨̢̥̖̩̟̭͖̗̟̹̼̬͚͐̐́ͭ͌͋ͯ̌͆̅ͨR̸̴̷̟̹͇̝̩͙̽͛ͧ̐͑ͮ̑̄̇̽͋ͦ̉͛́E͗̍̈͐̓̏̾̾̋͂̉̏̒̅͆̆̏͏̵̷͉̣̰͇͎̮̼Ä̸̠̩̜̹̘̻̞̟͎́ͮͧͧ̅͐̐̏ͪ̉ͪͨͨ̇̆̌̚C̸̗̟͓̥̘̘̙͇̰̭͔͕̳͙͓̖͎̙̣̀́̒ͣ̋͜͢͞͠T͚̖̥͓͔̝̭̪̯̮̱ͪ̇ͭ̄ͣ̕͞Ȍ̴̍̉ͫͣͦ̍̓̈́ͨ̈́͗̌̚͏̥͈̤͇͚̜̯͎͎͖͙̀͟R̸̴̸̛̝͙̦͎̱͙̼̰ͯ̔͂͒ͥ͒͐ͮ̅̐͐ͧ̌̈́̑̌ ̴̢͇̯͔͎̼̱͈̙͖̱ͨ̆̋̾̃͌ͥ̅ͬͦͭ͛ͬ̏̒̈́͐ͦͭ͢͝͝ͅĄ̧̗̥͎̩͇̤̓̃̈ͪ͂͗̇͊ͧ̊̐͗̍̊̅ͣͥ̐ͪ͜T̡͓̣̬̯̙̦̙̿ͩ̓̆̊͆ͩ͑͑ͦ̿͂̚͢͜͞ ̷̶̺͕̲̼̰̱͚̣ͫ̔ͮ̔ͤ͝͡ͅC̡̛̛͛͒̄̐̌̿͂̊̚҉̠̱̯͉̳͙̟̳͖̹̥͉͖̙̦Rͬ̌̿ͥͬ̓̈̔͊̃̅̑͢͡͏͎̞̮͈̳̘̹̻̙̕͢I̛͎̦̙̮̰̻͕͕̩̖̳͓̯̲̙̬ͥͧ̿ͪ́́ͅT̶̡͙̣͖̺̣͍͎͈̰̙͕ͪ̑̍ͧ̌ͯͤ͗̑̐̌̅͐͘͢͝Į̡̛̛̜͖̖̫̗̩͖̬͍͎̤́̆͋ͩ͂ͦ̾ͨ̒̓̊́̊ͯͬ̂̈́̋͝ͅCͥ̇̆̈́ͨ͊̀͟͞͏̞̼̺̠̯̭̫̬̟͢A̾ͩͪͥ͆ͩ͛̈͗͒ͣͨ̇͐̕҉̵͟͏̻͓̥͉̲̹L̷ͣͦ̂͆̅ͮ̽͂͂͗̇̈̈́̊ͩ̑҉̯̮͈͍̮̜͔̮̝ͅ.̶͔͖͎̫̪̫͉̠͍̘̯̣̙̦̬̂̇͂͆̋͗̈͌͡ͅ ̸̙̟̠̣̙̰̹͉̖̯̠̙̲̻̼̯͋ͣͭͮͦ̾͝ͅẼ̸̾̃ͧ̊̐̋̽͂́҉̲̘̝̩̠̞̰͖̘̯̼͍̀V̸̫̞̮̰̣̗̖̙͇̪̳̎ͥ̈ͭͫ̌̍̽ͯ̿̇͟Ă̮̩̰̱͍̬͓̭̳͌̌̆͌͐ͣͭ̏ͫ̈ͭͤ̇̏̀͟͟͡ͅC̬͇̳̙̦̼̙̒̍̎͂ͮ̅͟͢ͅÙ̸̡̻̺̟̫̼̪̄̒̿ͣ͗̍͐̉ͭ͑͢Aͥͧ͋̉ͮ̐̎͡͏̹̜͙̖̣̫̺̟̰̬͍͇͖̠͙̠T̛̫͍͕͕̰̬̣̻̦̹͇̯̥̲̝̮̊̆̓ͪͨͦͭ̒͂ͫͦͣͮͮ̽̆͑͗̋͘E̛̮͖̥̫͖͉̊̿͛ͪ̚̕͠ͅ ̡̛̤̞͚̱̰̭̞̖̺͎̰̞̯́ͧ͂̉̏̽̏͟Aͮ̔̍ͨ̀ͪͩ̑̑͑̓͋͛̉ͤ͆̚͜҉̢̭̖̱̬͕̯̰̭̣̣̹͟͝ͅͅL̑̽̓̽̌̒́͒̐̎̆͢҉̘̥̟̫͇̘̮͙̩̭̞Ļ̵̸̤̩͉̘͋ͦ̄ͧͨ̄̾̈́͑ͣͮ̆̃ͫ̕ ̲̞͉̠͇̥̖̩̲̫͕̙͚̄͊ͩ̃͢͠͞ͅP̣̙̟̱͙̦̜͍̘̬̞ͦ͋̾̿̒ͪ̆͗ͪ́̚͞E̷̷̵͔̬͎̯͈̲̤̗̭͔͚̮ͫͬ̋ͣ͑͑

The sound cuts off suddenly. Suddenly her hands find themselves empty. The wall that had been smeared with blood is back to the way it had been. Old, rusted, streaked with dirt and age. It was the room she had been brought to, again. Only her hand still had blood stained on it. The tip of her nose had some warmth. She could still feel where her body had been touching him.

Only he wasn’t there anymore.

The alarms were, though. Blaring loudly through the halls in warning, but with no voice behind them.

And a book laid on the floor where the bookcase had been. Ficciones

“I promise. I’ll be strong just like you want me to be. I’ll be—” Her voice dies in her throat. The world seems to tilt, her vision tunnels and suddenly everything’s changed again. She feels about in the vacant space for him but knows now that she’s back where she’s supposed to be. She’s no longer with him.

Her gaze finds the book on the floor. He used to read it to her. Slowly, Des reaches out to touch the book. Everything pitches to one side and her equilibrium shifts, sending her tumbling down, down, down… Not to the floor just a couple scant feet away, but seemingly past it and through space.

One Hour Later

Destiny wakes up in the hallway outside of her room. The klaxons have stopped blaring, and the lights are gone again. Her head is pounding and there’s an uncomfortable sensation around the space around her mouth. Reaching up to touch gingerly, her fingers come away with drying blood.

Sitting up carefully, she listens to the stillness of the night, marred not even by the white noise in her head. The silence is unsettling. Made more so by the uncertainty of what she just experienced.

Pushing herself to her feet, Destiny follows the glow of the lamp she left burning, returning to her room to fetch it and walk back to the bookcase.

Jorge Luis Borges. Ficciones.

Setting the lamp aside, Des retrieves the book from the floor, clutching it to her chest. Tears run down her cheeks and mingle with blood on their way to her chin. She’d gotten to see him just one last time and know that he had never forgotten her. She whispers her farewell into the dark.

“Goodbye, Tete.”

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