The Circular Ruins


des2_icon.gif kaylee4_icon.gif lynette3_icon.gif mateo_icon.gif

Scene Title The Circular Ruins
Synopsis Kaylee takes a small group of people into a confusing, twisting mindscape that had been constructed by a long dead telepath whose influence still lingers in the mind of the young man she raised.
Date April 3, 2018


The first thing they become quickly aware of in this green landscape is the noise.

From one direction, they hear an ocean, waves rolling up onto the beach and pushing up the sands. In another, the crackling of a fire, burning away everything that comes close. In another, the roar of thunder. In another, rain falling. In another, the sound of ice cracking. In another, the sound of a tornado.

All of them seem muffled and far off, but every time they turn or look it sounds subtly different.

This is what Mateo hears all the time. All those sounds, overlapped on each other, from all directions. But they can’t see anything that seems the source. After all, they are surrounded by green.

Tall bushes flank them on either side, hedges, trimmed carefully to imitate a flat surface. The path at their feets are paving stones, carefully lined up. The hedges turn and twist, leading off into various directions. Above is a dark sky, stars visible. And the sun, as well. Only the sun is in perfect eclipse, the blazing corona visible and lighting this strange dream for them.

“Well that makes sense,” Mateo mutters, looking down the winding path in one direction, then behind them where it just turns. “We’re in a maze.”

Of course they would be in a maze. Under an eclipse. Not unlike the tattoo he got many years ago.

Standing there in the maze, Lynette turns a full circle as if trying to pinpoint each of those noises. She knows what they're hearing— she's heard it before, but that doesn't make it any easier to take it in now. Like this. Her hand reaches over to find Mateo's arm, while she tries not to think about the fact that there is no hand, no arm, and that they're not really standing in a maze.

She looks up at the eclipse, then looks over to Mateo. "You really took all that Borges to heart, didn't you?" Which, of course, she already knew, but seeing it this way is something else. "So what's the idea? We walk the maze and find your memories tucked away here and there?" It's been a long time since Lynette's had a telepath in her head, but she remembers very clearly how much unlike this her own mind was. But also, how similar. Just the painting is different.

She hopes.

“Well…” Des’ voice is quiet, head turning slowly right, then left, before bodily turning around to take in everything behind her as well. “So far, this is about one-hundred-fifteen percent less terrifying than what we saw in my head, so I’d say we’re off to a good start.” Which was probably not the most reassuring thing to say, but no one has ever accused Odessa Knutson of having good bedside manner.

“Mine is all sterile corridors and locked doors,” she supplies for Lynette and Mateo’s benefit. Even if it isn’t the whole truth. “The things I can’t remember… I can’t tell the doors are there, but Kaylee could see them.” She hopes her brother finds he has a little more control here than she did.

«Welcome, Ladies and… Mateo… to his mindscape.»

The voice is in every direction, it rings hollow around them and everywhere. Lynette and Odessa have experienced it before, but… for Mateo, this might be the first time. Leaves roll across the ground and swirl about in a small vortex…. Gathering more and more, until they suddenly stop and flutter to the ground, leaving Kaylee Ray-Sumter standing there. Wearing a wispy grey dress that shifts and flows around her calves; while feet are bare, connected to the world around her. Had it been a dream, there would be a snake around her neck, but unfortunately, for them… maybe good for her ability is invisible here. So they can’t hear the hiss of glee that titters in the back of her mind.

Blinking, blue eyes and finally focus on the three in front of her, offering them all a smile. It almost has a Cheshire quality to it.

Finally, she looks around them, brows furrowing slightly. Fingers reach out to brush the hedges that are the beginning of the maze. «Hmm… I think your mother was thorough, Mateo.» Kaylee turns to face the man whose mind they occupy and approaches him; hands reading out. «We will have to get creative.» Delicate fingers take his hands and brings them together to make them cup as if gathering water in them. Her hands hold them there, her head lowers a little as she concentrates on something. There is a soft hiss to the words, something like silk on skin for Mateo, as her ability guides him a little. «Think about where you want to go. To the center of the maze… towards the answers you seek.»

As he does as she asks, the space in his hands shimmers and swirls until an old worn compass appears, the red needle spinning around wildly…. But then… slowly…. It stops.

«We now have our direction…» Her hands drop away and she finally looks up at him with a mischievous smile. «Shall we see where it goes?» Her head tilts a little cat like…

The needle points toward one of the softer sounds. The rain falling down, like a summer storm that ruffles the leaves and pushes the grass down. Mateo’s eyes follow that way, even as one of the new noises starts to sound in the background, a crunching of something, like someone chewing. “I— maybe?” he responds to Lynette’s words, mentioning him having taken Borges to heart, but obviously he had— he got a circular maze tattooed into his skin. The tattoo isn’t visible, because he’s wearing a long sleeve shirt, but both Des and Lynette know it’s there.

And Lynette has at least some idea what it means.

The carefully trimmed hedges do not move, or shift, but they do resonate, the leaves vibrating slightly as if they are disturbed by their presence. The maze is the locked doors for his head, leading them down endless paths to try and keep them away from— something? His mother had been obsessed with Borges too.

“You certainly know how to make an entrance,” he adds to Kaylee with a small grin, before he looks back at the other women in his mind. “I guess we follow the compass, then.” A living, breathing telepath should be stronger than one who’s been dead for eleven years, right? He leads the way, starting down the path. They are led to a fork, one path leading off one direction, another at an angle. Both are visible, unobstructed, but one’s cobblestones are broken, cracked, and the hedge less trimmed. The other has a whisper of voices, male voices mostly, and that’s the direction Mateo’s looking, as if he recognizes something.

The compass needle, however, points down the decaying path.

Lynette looks over at Kaylee when she appears, chuckling lightly for the appearance. It's a telepath's prerogative to be as dramatic as she likes. There's a glance over to Des, though, concern causing her to frown. "Mine was all broken mirrors," she says, perhaps trying to make them all feel better about being in a lovely hedge maze instead. Or maybe she wants to will it to stay nice.

She follows close to Mateo, almost as if she wants to step ahead in case of trouble, protective streak alive and well. But she keeps it in check for now, at least.

At the fork, she looks down one, then the other, but even if the arrow points one way, she ends up looking the direction Mateo looks. "Are you okay, my darling?" she asks, her voice a quiet whisper, even if this is someone's mind and volume may not be a thing. She tilts her head, as if trying to listen to those voices, but her attention turns to his face. "Perhaps we can come back? After we find your locked memories?" she says, as if trying to gently remind him why they're there. And maybe remind him to stay on the course.

“Wish I could do that,” Des says appreciatively of Kaylee’s arrival. She may not have that skill, but she’s definitely made an entrance or two with the help of her ability. She has nothing to complain about.

The compass points the way, and Des is willing to trust its aim is true. While Lynette may be willing to hang back and let Mateo lead, Des is too stubborn - and quite honestly, too scared - to allow him to take point. If something comes for them - for him - she’ll buy time however she can. It’s sort of what she does.

“Broken paths are always the more interesting,” she says reassuringly, starting to move down the path with confident strides, even as broken stones shift beneath her feet. At least she wore sensible shoes. For a hike in a telepathic mindscape.

The telepath listens to the others, a small smile on her face. «I wonder what mine would look like. I know what my world looks like when the dreamwalkers visit.» The image of a giant apple tree drift through everyone's minds, the telepath is unaware she is doing that, her eyes on the path ahead.

The decay is noticed and the fact that he is not looking that direction, blue eyes narrowing — unfocusing as she feels for the truth. «Mmmm… Very clever, your mother.»

Turning to look at the other women, Des gets an amused look as she forges ahead… while her brother is standing at that crossroads. She brings up a finger and presses it against ruby red lips, as she considers…. Where they that color before? «She doesn’t want him see. Distractions to keep him from seeing.» A mildly apologetic look is given to Lynette as she says, «I need to make him see.» There is meaning behind that.

Fingers then move to touch Mateo’s cheek, palm pressing there against the curve of his cheek… a gentle pressure to catch his attention. Ducking her head to catch his darker gaze with her own, much like a snake might pray. «Lisssten to me.» Only Mateo can hear the hiss in those words, feel the silkiness of that voice. «Ssssee the truth. Ssssee the true path.»

Hopefully, he will finally see the true path.

"Tú no eres un arma, mi cielito," a male voice can he heard saying down the green corridor. Most of it had been whispers, the same voice, almost all in Spanish, but that seems to ring clear as Mateo stares down into the endless turn. Maybe they can come back, maybe…

The telepath touches his cheek and that whisper reverberates in his mind. The subtle sound of rain becomes the roar of a tornado that seems closer— but the air doesn't move. It just reacts to the voice pushed into his mind. The hedges vibrate all around them, though, even more than they had before. The green leaves start to shift, to move, and then grows over to block the path the voices had been coming from. Only instead of bright green leaves, these look a yellow, like autumn.

“Probably better we don’t go down that path anyway,” Mateo responds after a moment, shaking his head and nodding to Kaylee. But those leaves that block the way have a different feel to them, as if this telepath had made some adjustments to what the groundwork. It felt as if they could pull it down, go through there— those memories aren’t gone or hidden…

They’re just pushed aside. With a nod, he turns to follow Des, who is already a good distance from them.

Down the path she went, she’ll begin to feel something new, a softer voice. She too speaks in Spanish. “Sé cuál es… y sé que podría matarlo.

And I know that it could kill him.

Only Des can hear this, but she learned enough of Spanish to understand it. The voice sounds as if it comes from the hedge, from the path in front of her. It sounds worried, concerned.

The words from down the path get a sharp intake of breath from Lynette. But no comment on it. No rush to head that way.

"Kaylee…" she says as the telepath steps over. She's tense, there's no hiding that, but she doesn't stop what has to happen. She just hopes that what has to happen isn't going to hurt him. She watches the path, watches the leaves change and the hedge grow. When the tornado gets louder, she glances to the sky. To make sure. But when Mateo speaks, she lets out a long-held breath and turns to look after Des. She's several step behind him after he moves, because she can't help another look back at the autumn leaves.

One arm slowly reaches back toward the others, palm out in a gesture to halt. Des cants her head to one side to listen. Over the roar of Mateo’s power, she hears a voice that’s unfamiliar to her. It takes her a second to parse what she hears, but she turns and looks over her shoulder to Mateo once she does. Her expression is kept neutral, because she doesn’t want to frighten him.

“Just the wind.” Flashing a quick smile, Des faces forward again and continues onward. One hand is held in front of her, close to her midsection and balled into a fist. A heavy breath is pushed past her lips. Her ribcage feels like it sighs, relaxed, even as she feels like her clenched fingers may as well be closed around her guts.

Watching Mateo move on, Kaylee hesitates, attention shifting to Lynette. Almost as if she can hear the woman’s thoughts the telepath says softly, «Sometimes the truth is steeped in pain… and the only way to find the truth is to endure it.» There is solemnity in the way she says that. «For those who love them, the hardest part is watching them go through it.» There is a truth behind those words… experience.

Only a moment after she says that, something passes behind her eyes and Kaylee breaks into that smile again, «Besides —» she says with a giddy lightness, « — what is there to worry with you here? You are his support…» Arms lift and she turns in a circle as if taking in where they are. «Because of you, he may be able to endure all of this.»

Leaning towards her friend, Kaylee conspiratorial whisper for her ears only, «Love is an amazing power.» With that she turns attention back to the path, moving to keep pace with Mateo, brows furrowing as Des moves ahead.

«Dessa… Do not wander too far, I can only keep you so safe.» The tone that Kaylee uses, sounds much like a mother calling to her child to stay close in the grocery store.

As they catch up with the nightingale, that same voice continues to float down the passageway, all coming from one direction. Mateo recognizes the voice immediately, and inhales sharply when he hears it.

Él es mío. He is mine.

“That’s my mother,” he states outloud. It has been years since he heard his mother’s voice in any manner, but he recognizes it instantly, knows it as the voice that had made him a lot of who he had always been. He may not have heard the first part, but this part he does hear. As they continue to walk down the worn and unused pathway, they hear more and more of that soft, echoey voice.

…mi hijo. My son.

They come upon a junction. A place where the passageway leads into an opening. It’s slightly wider than the one before, a tall hedge standing alone in the center, a divider that had looked like a wall until they came into the opening. The opening goes all around this lone hedge. But there are four exits. One they just came down, and three new ones.

No es tuyo. Not yours.

All of the paths appear the same. Rugged, untrimmed hedge, with broken paving stones leading the way— That voice, his mothers, floats down one side, the source of the voice. The compass in Kaylee’s hand shifts and spins, pointing down each of the passageways for a few moments before switching to the other. All of them contain something, it would seem.

Nunca tuyo. Never yours.

Lynette looks over to Kaylee when she speaks, but her gaze lowers to the ground after a moment. "I wish I could take the pain for him," she says, fingers reaching to brush the nearby leaves. "He's had enough." She sighs there, mostly because she's pretty sure it's impossible. But there is that sliver of her who assumes that anything is possible, especially in this setting. Her attention comes back to Kaylee, her eyes looking very much like she's holding back tears. "Whatever I can do for him, Kaylee, let me do it." As if she might need the telepath's permission. Or help.

The whisper is what finally gets a smile. Lynette reaches over to squeeze Kaylee's hand, a wordless, but warm thank you that resonates all the more clearly here, minds connected.

She has to jog to catch up, but she slides into place next to Mateo soon enough. In time to hear the voice. She looks around, the three paths noted before she turns back to him again. "I don't think she likes me," she says. In another place, at another time, it would have probably been a joke— a classic mother-in-law— but here, it's said with trepidation. She was a powerful telepath, after all, and that power seems to linger here.

“Yes, Mom~” Des responds to Kaylee’s warning in a sing-song voice, though it warbles slightly on the last note, betraying her emotions momentarily. She slows to a stop where the path forks and looks down each one in turn, stepping aside when Mateo catches up and glancing at his compass.

“So, we go down one path, find out what there is to know, and then backtrack?” She isn’t sure how this is supposed to work, and it’s evident in the look she sends the man’s way, then the telepath’s. “Or… do we split up and see what we can see?” Because she has a fear that once they go forward, they can’t go back again.

«If only I could split into three,» Kaylee jokes lightly, though it’s obvious that she isn’t sure where to go. «I’ve watched too many horror movies to think that splitting up would be a good idea.» Like Odessa, she isn’t sure they can come back if they go down one. «Looks can be deceiving…. though.» the telepath whispers, eyes closing as she pushes her ability out further… testing each one like a snake might test the air.

Eyes still closed, Kaylee points to each exit, head turning as if listening to something. «I hear your mother, Mateo… And children, though they are speaking in spanish… and…» brows furrow a little. «I hear you… and others.» Nothing alarming, but all… something his mother clearly didn’t want him to see.

«I would be curious to see your mother and what they direction entail..» Kaylee looks to the others to see what direction they would like.

As their telepath reaches out, the hedge in that direction starts to yellow, toward a golden brown coloring, as if her mind is affecting the telepathic barriers that have been put into place. The longer she’s in this hedge maze, the more she can feel that telepathic remnant radiating off the hedge. It had taken a lot of time and energy to build this, and it remains in place to this day. Not barriers the same as one might see in a normal mind, but little suggestions to keep thoughts from pursuing further.

Kaylee is easily able to push past the more subtle ones, to keep them moving.

But as she reaches down each path, little things whisper through.

Down the path she mentions the children, they hear a soft: “You can totally see the trap door, see?” It’s a young boy’s voice, teasing and laughing, as if he’s talking about something that he finds amusing, while the person he’s speaking to likely doesn’t like it.

From the other one, a voice can be heard, one that Mateo seems to recognize from the look in his eyes before he turns away, wincing. Something about those words had affected him. “Mi lobo, el que va a comer la luna.”

“Down that path it is.” The one with his mother. The children he does not recognize, but the third… “That one’s not a blocked memory, just a… bad one.” He will leave it at that. With a breath, he moves them onward, down the one that leads toward the voice of his mother.

No se puede tener mi hijo. You can not have my son.

The paving stones begin to take on an intricate pattern as they continue down them, curving as the passageway curves. The paving stones look to be making small mazes of their own, dark on light. Twisting mazes that lead nowhere. That ever present sound in the back of his head starts to burn and crackle, like a fire. And this time….

They can smell smoke.

When the wolf is mentioned, Lynette comes over and takes Mateo's hand. "That's not the memory we're here for," she says to him, reassuring. Like she might be trying to ease some sort of tension. But when he moves, she moves. Toward the voice of his mother.

And the fire.

She almost doesn't notice it, at first, because her gaze as fallen to those mazes locked in stone. She stares, like she might be trying to solve each of them before they pass by. It's a futile effort in more ways than one. But the smoke catches her attention and she looks up, alarmed. She gives his hand a squeeze, then steps ahead of him to hurry in that direction. The fire worries her, but not for her own sake, obviously.

Once leading the pack, now Odessa hangs back at the smell of smoke. Something about it makes her apprehensive. Something besides the obvious threat of fire, that is. One of her own memories flashes in her mind and she curls both hands into fists at her sides, lips pressed together in a thin line.

Exhaling a steadying breath, she continues forward again, eyes up instead of distracted by the mazes within mazes under her feet. Slowly, her fingers uncurl, but only halfway. Her thumbs slide over each finger tip individually, a habit born of her ability.

There is that sound. «This… this is familiar.» The crackle of a fire…. «I rememember it when we talked for the first time… I just… wish I remembered what we talked about.» Something tells her, this might be rather interesting, it nags at her… quickens her pace a little. Or maybe that is the hiss of her ability, tickling at the back of her mind with glee.

The smell of smoke should make her cringe, but Kaylee presses on… she would not be deterred.

Her bare feet make almost no sound, but she can feel each stone under the soles of her feet. Kaylee seems like she is almost enjoying this and in a way she is. This situation played to a part of her ability that was addictive… they were feeding it.

The more they move on, the more that sound and smell permeates in the air. It starts to haze their vision, masking their steps. But they don’t see any sparks until they hear a new voice, a male voice. “You should bring him back to the states. We can study him better there.” The tone, the cadence sounds more familiar than the actual voice. It reminds Des of many of those she grew up around within the Company. The manner of giving orders that sounded like suggestions.

“No.” This time his mother’s voice. “He stays here. I can control this.” She’s speaking in English, but has an accent, something that her son, notably, did not have at the same level. Somehow he’d never thought that was strange.

A few sparks float through the air before them, if they look closely they can almost see something reflected off the sparks. Two people talking in a room, while a boy in his early teens looks around the corner, listening. The sparks form together to make that image more, as if someone had drawn it in popping embers. The woman is young, late twenties or early thirties, healthy, long hair, the man an outline more than a face. He’d been turned away.

“Josefa, he is not your son.”

Él es mío.

The cinder outline breaks apart, shattering, spreading onto the maze that has started to turn yellow and brown as they walked further. It catches aflame, the hedges burning, spreading back behind them, in front of them, around them.

No se puede tener mi hijo.

Suddenly Mateo stumbles, as if something physically hit him, grasping Lynette before he actually falls. The telepath can feel it too, as if that wall had come slamming down once again, trying to redirect him back, trying to keep him from continuing. Trying to keep all of them from continuing.

And overhead the sky seems suddenly brighter, as if the moon itself had shrunk.

Lynette waves a hand in front of her, trying to clear the haze in front of her. But the voices bring her to a stop. And she looks into the embers, trying to make out the scene they paint. She might have been worried about his mother's blocks seeing them as an enemy, but as the fire spreads through the maze around them, she doesn't seem afraid of it now.

When Mateo stumbles, she turns more toward him to help steady him. "Are you okay?" she asks, hands clinging onto him. "What just happened?" The question is directed toward Mateo, but only because she's looking at him. More likely, she means it for Kaylee. The change in lighting is noted, but she doesn't look that way this time.

“The Company…” Odessa’s voice is quiet as she moves forward, listening to the exchange. “They were studying you. Just like they were me…” But he had a mother he was placed with. A mother who clearly fought for him. She… has no idea what the truth of her upbringing is anymore. But she has assumptions.

“Fight it,” she says louder now, moving to the opposite side of Lynette, a hand on Mateo’s shoulder. “We’re here. You’re safe with us.” But she’d much rather have something she could stab right now. Something to save him from. Des would much rather fight this battle for him.

A part of Kaylee sees all of this as a challenge… his mother — her opponent one that must be overcome. So when that block comes down, bringing them up short of the goal, the telepath shows the flicking of a scowl. The darkest part of her sees the challenge and rises up to meet it.

Hands raise as if to test this barrier before pushing against it. «His mother was amazing…» There is awe in the telepath’s voice as she brushes a hand across the barrier. «She really does not want him to see this. It is a memory block.» Her ability slowly starts to slither along the mental block, looking for the weakness… and pushing gently, ignoring the increase of pressure behind her eyes.

«Do not let her push you away.» There is a nudge in that, an encouragement for Mateo to put one foot in front of the other and continue on the path before him.

”You can’t protect him here, Josefa. You know that.”

That voice is back, even as the hedges on either side start to burn. A Company Man. That same sound they all had. Even Ryans retained that sound when he joined the Ferry, Lynette would know that as well. It’s a way of life for them, even if the words were often different. They all spoke the same.

Mateo straightens, looking as if he’s in pain even as he nods to them. He knows— he knows they need to keep going, but he doesn’t know if he wants to see what’s about to come. The hedge burns away, creating a new opening, into a room. Now they can see what the flickers had tried to outline before. A faceless man, a latina woman in her early thirties— and a boy. A teenager. He looks very much like the man beside them, but his hair is long in kind of a rebellion-like hair cut.

It makes the grown version of him almost laugh, even through the pain. That fire continues. “I don’t remember this, but— it was around my second year of secondary school— I was about Silvia’s age.” And had hair longer than Silvia. That told him the date better than anything. Sixteen.

The teen watches without either of them seeing to notice, though for a second his mothers eyes flick to him— she knows he’s there. Even if the man talking to her is faced away.

”I can protect him. From himself. From you. From them.”

Them? Don’t you mean, us?”

”Not anymore.” Suddenly she looks directly at them— which also happens to be directly at the young teen. “Mateo.” her voice seems to go two-toned, as if she’s speaking telepathically and out loud at the same time. “Abre.” Kaylee can feel the suggestion laced in that one word, and the effect is immediate.

A small hole opens up in the air by the agent as he starts to turn around— and he finds himself pulled into it. Only it’s much smaller than even his hand could easily fit through. It sounds like one might expect of a woodchipper. And the teenage boy doesn’t even seem to realize he’s doing it at all.

The older one, however, knows exactly what is happening— and any fond smiles of remembering his long hair days wipes off his face.

Holding onto Mateo, Lynette pushes forward with him and looks across to Des. She gets a firm nod, something determined in her gaze and Des, her partner in protecting him as best they can. Or, at least, supporting him.

When the scene forms before them, Lynette doesn’t laugh at his poor teenage choices, although there is a fond smile there for a moment. Adorable. But the appreciation is short-lived as she tunes into the conversation. That tone of voice makes her stiffen, the words too. It’s the command for him to open that really gets to her, though.

“What? No,” she says, as if she might be able to convince his mother not to do this.

But of course, she can’t. And she watches as the agent gets torn apart and chewed up to fit through el umbral. She keeps her reactions buried, but they’re mild in any case. She had a sneak preview of this effect and a good imagination. But her hand squeezes Mateo’s, perhaps to make sure he knows she’s not afraid.

“Why would she do that?” Lynette ends up asking, disbelief and disgust in her tone. They have talked about people who have used him for his power and to see that his mother was one of them sickens her. “She could have just suggested him into her knife or something!” That’s anger. “To use him like that and the hide it?”

Des knows what happens when Mateo Ruiz opens a portal and there isn’t a second one ready. She isn’t horrified as she watches the moment unfold, but fascinated in her way. It’s an awful way to die, and one she wouldn’t wish on… Well, just about anybody. But it’s data. It confirms what she’d read in the other Ruiz’s file back at the Ark.

“Because she’s Company,” Odessa responds to Lynette’s question easily. “They— We were taught that everything is a tool. Using his ability means there’s no body to find.” It also means the blood isn’t on her own hands in a literal sense, but she doesn’t expect Mateo needs to hear that. “It’s a clean way to get rid of someone. No chance he reports back.” While she may have some appreciation for the method, it’s not something she would ever have done herself. Not to him. Not unwillingly.

Maybe she’s not the monster she thinks she is after all. Accomplices are best, she finds, when they’re enthusiastic. …Maybe that just proves the theory. “I’m sorry, Mateo.”

A part of her reacts with horror, but that part of her is not fully in control right now. So Kaylee watches with open fascination as it happens. Tasting the way the older telepath’s ability affects Mateo…. Could she do that? You could try….

What the hell?!?

There is a hiss from Kaylee, her eyes snap shut and squeeze tight as she fights against those thoughts. Hands ball into fist, knuckles white. «Des is right….» The words sounds a little strained. «Come… lets move on…» Finally, opening her eyes to look back, Kaylee watches Mateo «If you want to.» Almost under that is a softer hiss of barely noticable words, almost sing song in nature. Oh… He will~ Odessa will recognize the sound of Kaylee’s own dark whisper.

The Company agent who had been standing there is gone— not even a drop of blood, not a finger print, just the hint of his boots remaining on the green multi-level loop carpet he stood upon. “Cierre,” she says with the same two-toned voice that seems to echo. Her hair had started to move, but el umbral’s effect radius didn’t seem that far— it had pulled in the man cause it had been created practically on top of him.

She steps closer, placing her hands upon the young boy’s face— “You will not remember this. You will not remember your ability. We need to leave. Follow me.” He doesn’t even seem to register a reaction to the words, as if he’s not actually there. He just moves to follow, as she leads, past them, past Mateo. Or she would have, if it had not actually gone through them. They were ghosts, a memory.

The strength of her telepathy still resonates on every structure in the maze, the hedges, the floor below them— Kaylee is starting to understand the pattern of this woman’s blocks. They had not been doors, they had not contained the memories— they had just made it difficult to get to them. She had burned down the wall to find the short cut.

“I didn’t manifest that early,” Mateo tries to say, shaking his head— “How did— “ He doesn’t finish his words as the fire fades, leaving a huge hole in the maze that they had walked through. He doesn’t seem disgusted that his ability killed a man, or that he’d been used as a weapon— no, that he seems oddly used to.

"Tú no eres un arma, mi cielito," a male voice whispers through one of the walls. Mateo’s hand squeezes Lynette’s, before he looks at her and nods.

“I’m okay.” It’s a lie. But he gestures onward. “There’s more, I’m sure. If we’re going to do this we should find as much as we can. It’s not like I can ask my… my mother.” He still wants to call her by a more familiar and affectionate name, but that somehow feels wrong now, and he doesn’t know if it’s actually wrong.

"You can do the same thing with your own two hands and a shovel," Lynette says with no small amount of ire. But it isn't directed at Des. In fact, the we doesn't even seem to come as a surprise to her. It's hard to say if anything will, at this point. She looks over at Mateo, expression turning to concern as the fire fades and he struggles to reconcile what they see with what he remembers.

She glances toward the male voice, then back to Mateo. "It looks like we're destroying the maze," she notes, as if she's unsure if that's a good or a bad thing. "What happens if there's nothing left of it?" She doesn't expect Mateo to have the answer. Or any of them, really. It's just a concern she can't help but voice. Is the maze the trap, or is it something more intrinsic to his mind as a whole, his self. Instead of waiting for an answer, she leans in to Mateo, cheek to cheek, to whisper into his ear.

"You're okay," she says, a familiar mantra, as her hand returns the squeeze, "you're here. I'm here. Des is here. You're okay."

And then she steps back again and looks toward the voice again. "We should find one of the other paths."

Lynette has Mateo, and so Des moves to Kaylee’s side and grabs her hand tightly. “Fight it,” she whispers quietly. “I can feel what it wants from you. You know this isn’t the time.” There may never actually be a time for it, but neither woman is the type to rule out the darker uses of their abilities entirely.

Now, Odessa lifts her voice. “You manifested earlier than you remember. And I think I did, too. Maybe we’ll both find some answers here.” Maybe if he knows he’s helping more than just himself, it will help him maintain his resolve. Or maybe it won’t. Des laces her fingers with Kaylee’s now and looks over to her friend with a smile, grateful for her help so far. “What does the compass show now?”

«It likes what it sees…» Kaylee murmurs to Odessa, there is a flash of something.. Mischief… maybe. The war is ongoing. «I-I understand it… I could…» Oh is would be so fun… The words trail off fade out a little as Kaylee fights herself again. «I’ll be okay…» But will ssshe…? The second voice giggles softly in Odessa’s head.

«Mateo…» Kaylee finally pulls her attention from Odessa to look at the man. «I hear your doubts… you loved her and she clearly loved you. That word will never be wrong, no matter what she did.>

Bringing her hands together, the compass materializes, the needle lazily spinning, stopping and going, flipping around. Brows furrowed a little, considering the needle. She starts to move towards the direction they came watching the needle change to bounce back and forth. So slowly she turns back towards everyone. She recognizes that he wants to leave, but Mateo also wants the truth.

Kaylee starts to say something, possibly give him the choice to leave, but something stops her, her head tilts a little to one side like a curious cat. The smile returns slowly and the telepath steps forward towards the hedge. «Only way forward is through…» She casts a glance over her shoulder at Mateo and that others. «Let’s see shall we?» Yessss…. More to sssee, more to learn That said her hands are thrust into the hedge in front of her… even as her ability slithers over the next block to find the cracks in the foundations, the headache behind her eyes intensifying as she tries to push apart his mother’s hard work.

That compass needle had been spinning, not giving much in the way or direction, but it didn’t matter, because their psychic guide made a choice. No more mazes. No more twisting corridors. As she focuses on the wall in front of her, it changes. This time it doesn’t start to die or burn— it physically changes. The hedge becomes a wall of snakes, coiled together. They hiss and spat, slither and crawl until they part ways to open it up, disappearing into the hedge, like a parasite.

For a moment, the man whose mind this happens to be looks on in shock, but then he stumbles and holds onto Lynette, almost as if he can feel the wall getting pulled away— feel the maze becoming a host to these tiny little tendril like snakes that spread out in search of answers. They can smell the telepathic signature, taste the strength, sense the little intentions good or bad that had built this complex labyrinth. Another wall before them falls down, dying and turning to dust. The one who made this maze was long dead.

“I’m okay,” he repeats to Lynette, using the moment to press his forehead against hers before he fully stands again. He’s okay— And the woman who built this place would always be his mama. No matter what she did to him.

Or so he’ll let Kaylee tell him. Because he wants to believe it.

Through the holes in the wall, they see another “room”. An old house, by the looks of things, a with a window. With the orange-yellow walls exactly as he always remembered it. And that sound. The sound of an oxygen machine. Drawing air in, pushing it through a water filter, a charcoal filter, down tubes and into a woman’s nose. The same woman they’d seen in that previous vision. Older, wrinkled, skin like old paper that’s been soaked and left out to dry in the sun. What little hair she still has is thin. Even her eyebrows are a bare shadow.

There’s other instruments in the room, but they flicker and fade, as if they’re there one moment and not the next. People move about in a blur. Only one thing is solid. Mateo, once again. Older. His hair is short, his face well-shaven as he moves to take her hand.

His hair is long and curly, a thick beard on his face as he takes her hand. Well shaven, short, well dressed as he takes her hand. Dressed in a simple white shirt and drawstring pants as he takes her hand. Wearing shoes as he takes her hand. Sandals scuffing the floor as he takes her hand. The image flickers, shifts, like transparent layers that get moved back and forth.

“What is this? I— “ the one with them says out loud.

Watching Kaylee work, Lynette keeps a hold on Mateo. She’s nervous, but trying not to seem so. It’s harder to pull that off here, like this. There’s even a small jerk when the snakes hiss. But she’s ready for him when he stumbles, her hold steady, her voice gentle. “I’ve got you,” she notes, making sure he’s steady before she checks on what’s been revealed.

The series of Mateos draws her attention, her eyebrows lifting. That she wasn’t expecting. “The other otters,” she says, mostly to herself, like she didn’t mean to voice it, exactly. Not that way, anyway. The wonder cuts off, though, when it clicks. What they’re looking at.

“This is when she dies,” Lynette says louder, meant for the others. When he remembers manifesting. Before today. Her thoughts reach out to Kaylee, perhaps to prepare their telepath for what’s coming. Just in case.

Apprehensiveness settles in to Des’ expression and it does not leave. As much as Kaylee assures her she has this under control, Des is familiar with the siren’s call of their abilities. The whispers are so very similar, and the way she can hear Kaylee’s… It’s almost as though their powers could join forces. Just the way hers has always told her she could. She’ll never have Kaylee’s ability - wouldn’t want it - but it would be incredibly useful to her.


Odessa takes a steadying breath and moves forward through the clearing of snakes with the others. That apprehensiveness only grows even as it’s joined by confusion, and bolstered by it. “It’s the other worlds…” Des looks to Kaylee for answers. “Why can he see them? He shouldn’t be able to see them.”

A hand rests over the left side of her chest, as though feeling for her pounding heart. “It’s… like the event unfolded the same way no matter what world it was. A constant?” Des has only read about it in theory. This is Richard’s territory, she wagers.

And she stares ahead at the unfolding scene with a sick feeling in her gut, wondering if her presence has influenced things here. Wishing she didn’t want the answers as badly as she does.

It should bother Kaylee to see the snakes, but she barely even acknowledges them. Though fingers to reach out to caress the diamond shaped head of one of them before it too disappears into the handiwork of the other telepath. Her blues eyes are on the scene ahead, something about it catches her attention…. draws her in.

«It’s not what you think, Des,» A clever trick to fool the mind… Kaylee says distractedly.

Stepping through the hedge, the telepath approached the overlapping images of Mateo, watches how the shift and flow together. «The day he remembers…» Her body shifts, so that she can turn to look back over her shoulder to Lynette, then her gaze shifts to Mateo. «I think he needs to prepare…» Her head tilting towards the man, slowly.

Not letting them dwell on that thought, Kaylee twirls back to the scene, takes those final steps forward, and grabs one of the Mateo’s by the shoulder. The well-dressed version is stopped by the action and it is slowly peeled away from the scene; while the other keeps going through the motions. Removed from the truth, the false image seems to fall apart like an ancient, moth-eaten tapestry… pieces shredding and fluttering towards the ground; only to turn to ash before touching down.

«Your momma was just protecting you from the truth.»

With the well-kept layer ripped away, everything changes. The room, the people within it. Just the woman laying in the bed and the not-so-well-kept son stay the same. There’s a strangled cry from the Mateo that’s with them, as he suddenly drops to his knees no matter how the women at his side might try to grab him. It’s pain, it’s revelation— The snakes are doing their work, seeking out the secrets, the traps, the lies, pulling down the walls. A dead woman can’t fight against a living one, no matter how powerful she had been in life.

Before them the scene moves. There’s people in the room, all dressed differently, all moving about as if in a daze, eyes not locking on any one thing, not even glancing at the son that stands over his mother. As if they do not see him. And he does not see them. But he does see the woman before him, moves through the correct motions. Even if everything else is wrong.

Lo siento mucho. Debería haber visitado antes.” he says in Argentine accent laced in his spanish as he looks down at the woman. She’s not even seeing him, not anymore, but she doesn’t need eyes to see, anymore than she needs a voice to speak or ears to hear.

Tengo - tengo que decirte… the telepathy tries to sound like a voice, but she’s too weak to make him see it the way she wants, too weak to give all the things she needed to say. The truth.

“«No importa.»” he responds. He thought he knew. His mind told him to turn the other way, to look somewhere else, to turn around from this situation. To not ask. The maze was too intricate, especially then. It kept the everything from him. More than he ever knew, more than he ever wanted to.

But before she can correct him, before she can say whatever it is she wanted to say or think— her chest rises and falls and never rises again.

And the first of the many barriers, the one that needed near constant supervision, falters, fades, fails.

The lights flicker, then snap, all power gone. A sound rips through the air, rips through the house, rips through everything. Those people who did not see came to, came to just in time to see the world around them ripped apart by a gaping maw of darkness and sound, of destruction and nothing. A hunger that had gone unfed for years. The house, the people, everything vanishes. They don’t move, the man that ends up laid bare on the floor, curled up but not destroyed like all that around him.

“It was all a lie,” he whispers, understanding now, as the suddenly everything reverses. It goes backward, like someone rewound the tape of life, of memory. The house rebuilds itself, filled with rooms. Rooms cared for by people who moved like half-awake dead. Who cleaned and cooked and cared for the woman dying of her own ability. Her own overuses. All to keep something contained that should never have been free. A man and the ability dormate inside him. Silent for so long, and now crying out in anger at having been contained.

He moves backwards, unaware of anything, a false life playing out inside his head. He never actually left home. Never actually went to university. None of it. He’d known part of his life had been a lie— but had no idea how much.

Like his sister, he too had been kept in a box.

The hedges around them shutter.

When Mateo falls to his knees, Lynette crouches down next to him, her hand moving to his shoulder. When the lie is revealed, the sheer scope of it, she shudders violently. She knows every power— every person— is capable of as many terrible things as they are of beautiful things. She's seen powers used as inhumanely as possible, and used her own that way, but this seems to churn her stomach in a way no other has ever done. She keeps her eyes on the memory, not Mateo, counting on his own distraction to keep him from noticing how angry this is making her. The level of betrayal here— she can't see it as a mother protecting her son, and that is why she can't show the others. If he needs to have something good to remember her by, Lynette won't be the one who ruins it.

He moves backward and Lynette moves to stand up again. No wonder his ability is so hungry, she says to Kaylee, she kept it locked up. If he'd been able to train it, learn it— Her head drops, shaking away the anger from her face. From her thoughts. Nothing stays in a box forever.

Then she turns to look at Mateo, concern taking over as she comes to take his hand again. "It isn't your fault," she says to him, even if he doesn't strictly know she's there as the shock of replaced memories sweeps over him. "This was done to you," she says, and it might be clear to everyone that she doesn't mean this time before them. But something else. Something that came after. She glances to to hedges, eyeing them warily before she looks back to him again. "It wasn't your fault."

Odessa stares ahead at the lies made manifest. Tears flow freely from her eyes, and she pays them no mind. They’re deserved. Earned. There are so many things she wants to do. Almost every single one of those things is impossible, even here. Or especially here.

There’s regret now, so much regret. Kaylee can feel it rolling off the brunette with a wave of revulsion. This was her idea. This was what she wanted for him.

This was wrong.

Des turns her back on the others as she cries now, harder and almost with intent. Before she merely allowed the tears, now she indulges the anguish. Maybe he would have been better off not knowing. After several seconds, she wipes her face and turns back again, slowly approaching her brother with eyes that are red and puffy. Are they like that because they expect them to be? Or does emotion really have such a power, even here?

“Tete, I… I’m so sorry.” Odessa reaches out momentarily with the intent to pull Mateo into an embrace, but she stops herself. He deserves the comfort, of course. But she does not. Her guilt-ridden gaze shifts to Lynette. More tears cling to her lashes and fall away only after a hard blink.

Too much too soon… The scene before Kaylee and everything she is feeling beyond what they were seeing. She suddenly wasn’t so sure he could handle it. What would happen when the last of those hedges come down?

Arms go out and the telepath closes her eyes, pulling at her ability, bringing it back… There is a fight with that darker part. It was learning so much… the feel the taste of these other ability. The voice in the back of her head said… she could.

Hands out to each side of her, fingers trembling slightly holding back the tendrils of her ability, laced through the last of the defenses, she slowly turns to face the trio. She gives an apologetic look to Des and Lynette, maybe they had gone too far… maybe she had gone too far… however…. Kaylee’s blue-eyed gaze falls on Mateo. «The hardest thing any of us has to do is face our monsters.» Monssstersss know… monssstersss know their own… The whispers of darkness surround them, coming from multiple mouths.

«I can stop this here… or…» Take the sssstep… learn the truth of who you are… «I can throw us all out now, end this here.» As much as that dark part of her writhes at the idea of stopping, Kaylee isn’t completely ruled by it. She can at least give him a choice.

In the waking world, her brother will see the first signs that she is starting to reach her limit… as a single droplet of blood slides from her nostril… in Mateo’s head, it isn’t there.

«Do I stop? Or do we finish this journey?»

The lie hurts. But that’s not why Mateo shakes his head when Lynette tries to tell him it had not been his fault. Sure, what happened in that house in Argentina might not have been his fault. His whole life might have been built for him, every memory up until his mother’s death fabricated and pushed on. Had he ever worked in a power plant? Had he ever seen the University he attended? Is this why he’d never had a relationship until José? He could barely remember the faces of anyone he had known as a teenager— had that been why?

He’d never tried to go back to his life once he’d manifested, for many reasons, now he wondered if his apartment had ever been there, if anything had been unfabricated. “No it’s— this might not have been my fault…” But everything that had happened after

The hedge continues to shudder, even as Kaylee pulls back on her ability. She waits for him to make a choice, to say something, but even as he starts to think it, a voice echos over the maze, a silken voice, reserved but direct. And familiar to at least two of those who stand in this mindscape.


Without an answer to her question, the hedges sink into the earth, lowering down until they can see over them. There’s structures within the maze, but it’s not the structures that stand out. This isn’t the telepath’s doing— these memories aren’t blocked, or forgotten. They’re not misdirected. They’re not false. They bubbled to the surface because he happened to think of them. There’s shadows and light playing in the corner of their eyes, as he shakes his head. No.

He doesn’t want them to see this, but they won’t have time to pull back before they hear one sentence, from the same voice. “Mata a los que están en el lado izquierdo.” That hole opens, in the distance, they don’t see the scene that leads to it, but they see the men. Dressed in mercenary gear, get pulled up and into the darkness. El umbral is large enough that they don’t suffer the fate of the Company Man from an earlier memory. But they are gone nonetheless.

Kaylee can feel his immediate shame— this was something he had hoped to avoid— but there it was— though it’s obvious he wants to stop now, before the maze collapses all together.

“No, my darling,” Lynette says to him, her hand coming to touch his cheek when he shakes his head. She looks past him to catch Des’ look, her expression warmer, comforting to her as well as Mateo. She holds a hand out toward her, gesturing her over.

Then she hears the voice. Or rather, the name. She takes in a sharp breath. There’s a worried look to Mateo and then to Des, as well, as if they both might need some support as this particular moment plays out. Her hand stays stretched out to Des, her other sliding down to retake Mateo’s. Lynette isn’t shy about watching the scene. There's a part of her that has to see it. To know it. Her shoulders straighten, and if preparing to carry the weight of it. Like she might want to take it for him. For them.

“Kaylee,” she says as el umbral opens, “get us out. Bring us back out.” It’s clear she isn’t going to entertain anyone saying otherwise. Or she assumes no one would want to say otherwise. “You’re okay,” she says again, this time folding Des into the mantra, too, “this is over. You’re okay.”

For a moment, Des is frozen in place. Blue eyes go from lowercase to capital when that voice speaks that name.

Odessa staggers back a step, her breath coming out in a terrified and shuddering half-sob. “No… Not him. Not you.” Then she closes the space between them, throwing one arm around Mateo tightly and clasping Lynette’s offered hand like a lifeline. She’s not afraid to look, but she already knows what to expect. She doesn’t need to see.

“You’re okay.” Des joins her voice with Lynette’s. “We’re okay.” And as much as she wants to see more, she knows this is where it should stop. For now. “Kaylee, it’s time. You can’t overextend…” That, and the whispers she hears are troublesome. Worrisome. They need to talk. Later.

Confusion. Kaylee looks shocked as the walls start falling. Her own ability retreating again, quickly. What had just happened? What was that voice? WHO… was that voice?

Even as Lynette and Des are both telling her it is time, they can feel their bodies in the real world again…. And suddenly… both will open their eyes in the real world. See Kaylee still there, fingers pressed Mateo’s temple, blood dripping from her nose.

There is something, the telepath still needs to do.

Kaylee lingers for a moment, staring in awe at the thing that is Mateo’s ability. Brows furrow a little as she casts a look about her, before turning to the man on his knees. The telepath offers him a gentle smile. «The hunger it calls to you.» Thisss call… callsss to me…too.

Approaching Mateo and kneeling in front of him, Kaylee looks almost at peace, despite the odd underlying whispers. «I did something for Joseph once. When he was in the hands of the Company, where they tortured him with Refrain and forced him to use it ability.» But we sssaved him from that bitch. Her words are soft as she reveals something about herself and the man working for Lynette; while the voice of her darker self spits and hisses in contrast. As she speaks, fingers reach up to catch something… out of thin air a strip of film is pulled into existence. She holds it between her hands, multiple images slide across playing memories in his head. «He was also being tortured by a dreamwalker… So… I gave him something to hold on to when things were bad.» Hisss church… his sssafe placcce.

Holding the film strip out between them, her mental voice wraps around him, something comforting. Even those whispers from her darker self have gentled. «Let me give you something good to overcome the bad.» The bad isss alwaysss there, but the good dullsss «Show me your happiest moment.»

His happiest memory. Mateo isn’t even surprised when it flickers into view. The happiest of all possible moments would have to have included her. It wasn’t when she asked him to marry her, or when they got married, or when they decided to adopt Silvia— all those moments were happy. But the moment…

"Would you come with me?" she asked.

Mateo hadn't quite been prepared for that question. He stopped kissing her, lips pressed against her neck, his slight beard-stubble scratched the sensitive skin there. He stayed paused there for a few breaths, longer than he probably even thinks he is.

When he did pull back to look at her, he had a softness to his expression, something she hasn't really seen that often. But it'd been there, then, a vulnerability she hadn’t even seen when his ability overpowered him.

"Do you want me to?" he asked, a genuine question— like she might have just been saying that and not actually meant it.

"Sorry, that was too much, too fast— " she said, words coming out almost on top of one another before she actually looks up at him. She stopped and tilted her head a little. Questioning. Uncertain. Hopeful. Her hand moved to his cheek, her thumb moving over skin and stubble alike.

"All I know is… I like waking up next to you. And falling asleep next to you. And when you're here, everything is… bright. And warm."

The happiest was when she said this, when he heard her say I love you, without actually saying it. And that’s the memory that plays out in the film in her hands.

When he brings it into focus, Kaylee’s eyes slide shut as she pulls together her ability again. All of the bad he has done or feels…. it all dulls and the hunger recedes; but only a little… It isn’t gone, but he feels the emotions that the moment invokes, much stronger. A happy place. Even the world around them shimmers into a high definition version of it, as the Telepath makes it stand out more than the rest.

«I won’t take it away… the things we experience. The things we do, they shape us, but…. I can at least give you moments of peace to weather the storm.» You can’t ignore the monssstersss…Not forever.

Her head ducks, a hand coming up to her nose. When it is pulled away it is covered in blood. «Our time is up, my friend.» Her other hand moves to rest on his shoulder, giving it a gentle reassuring squeeze. When she lets go again, so does her ability’s hold on him and they are snapped back into their bodies and reality.

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