The Secret Miracle


lynette3_icon.gif mara2_icon.gif mateo_icon.gif

Scene Title The Secret Miracle
Synopsis Her truth is stranger than fiction.
Date December 25, 2018


To be honest, Mateo Ruiz isn’t entirely sure how they made it back home. They took the trip one step at a time, of course, but it felt a blur, like it didn’t happen because he couldn’t think. That buzzing in his head hadn’t stopped, or quieted all that much. It sounded like a the ocean, the crushing sound of water, like the buzzing of electricity. It had caused him to ask them to repeat things more than once so he could try to drown it out. Somewhat unsuccessfully.

It hadn’t stopped even when they opened the door to their suite in the Benchmark. A worried look was drifted toward the door that the teenager should have been behind, but— they could wait til morning to explain things.

How were they going to explain things to Manuel?

That was what kept going through his head under all that noise. There were no more tears, really, he had already done that, now he was just trying desperately to think? Had they lied to the kidnapper from another world for nothing? Would…

“We can probably try to… contact your father in the morning,” he said, a bare whisper under the noise in his head, but at least a conversational tone rather than yelled.

"I don't want to tell him," Lynette says, voice cracking as she drops into the couch. She puts her head in her hands, because she's not done crying yet. "I know we have to, but I— "

He still lives in a world where his parents are alive and searching for him. She would preserve that world for him, if she could. "Dad shouldn't have to tell him. We should go there and tell him." She sits up, hands wiping at her face before she looks at him. "I don't know if he'll want to stay with us, but I know Dad will want him if he wants to stay there." She glances toward Silvia's room, too, letting out a shaky breath. Telling Manuel was a nightmare, but telling Silvia that even when you try your best, everything can fall apart— that wasn't going to be easy, either.

The lights flickering at this hour isn’t unusual. What happened in Manhattan surely is playing havoc on the already strained power grid. Outside, the massive spiral-shaped aurora now hovering over the Manhattan Exclusion Zone is a visible reminder of the trauma the Ruizes just endured.

Unfortunately, their night wasn’t over.

The lights flicker again, and this time when they come back on there is a woman sitting on the floor in the corner of their living room, knees pulled up to her chest, arms wrapped around her legs and brow pressed to the back of her knees. She’s long-limbed, blonde-haired, suspenders and slacks, buttondown and bruises on her knuckles. She’s also softly crying. She also appeared out of literal thin air.

No, Mateo didn’t want to tell the boy either. “It can wait til tomorrow…” is what he reiterates. That they both probably needed a shower, to lay together in the warmth of a bed trying to sleep. They needed time. The words they had to say could wait for the night, that the children at least didn’t need to have their sleep ruined by something they had no control over. Cause he highly doubted he would be getting much in the way of sleep. Then the lights flicker, and that sound in his head changes from roaring rushing water to something… less so.

Almost like a the ocean breaking on the beach. Less harsh. The Benchmark didn’t often have problems with their power, due to the woman who ran it, but sometimes it did. Usually it was his fault, using his ability. Sometimes frivolously, though less so these days.

But the woman suddenly appearing in a corner of their apartment definitely didn’t happen at all. “How-” he starts in surprise, before he starts to take off his coat. It’s warm on the inside, but cold on the outside, as he moves closer kneel down and put it on her shoulders like she might be cold.

Was this one of the Benchmark’s patients? he seemed to ask with a glance toward his wife. Focusing on someone else who needed help came naturally to him, but the better a look he got, the more… “You were at Des’s birthday party.” Which felt like a lifetime ago, honestly.

When the lights flicker, Lynette stands up like she's worried she might have to defend them and their home from something. But the woman is not what she expected. She relaxes, taking an easier demeanor as she comes over and kneels down next to her. "Are you hurt?" She glances toward the bruised knuckles, worried that they're not the end of her injuries. "Do you know where you are?"

Des' party was a lifetime ago. Things were different now. They were different now. "Mateo, get her some water?" She looks up at him, worry in her gaze.

Facial features are easily recognizable things; high cheekbones, a prominent nose, blonde hair. But when the woman who appeared in the Ruiz estate lifts her face from the back of her knees, it isn’t Sera Lang’s eyes looking into Mateo’s, there’s something changed there, something both broken and familiar in a way he can’t quite pinpoint. This both is and isn’t the woman he danced with. The woman who showed him another life, through the looking glass.

“No water.” Mara hisses, voice tight and strained from crying. She doesn’t answer whether she knows where she is or not, but she doesn’t look surprised to see either of the Ruizes. Her eyes are puffy, swollen red things. The white of her eyes is pink from all the crying, cheeks still wet, nose red. Her whole face is flushed, making the pale blue of her eyes pop out even brighter against all the pink and red. It isn’t until a few moments after her ardent refusal of the water that she really looks at Mateo and Lynette, jaw unsteadied and fingers curling against the fabric of her slacks.

Mi príncipe,” Mara murmurs, brows bunching together and eyes searching Mateo’s for something inscrutable. She doesn’t look physically injured, but emotionally, she is and continues to be devastated.

Already moving to stand so he can go get some water, Mateo stops when the woman says no to it, shifting a concerned glance to Lynette before looking back down into those eyes. This was somehow not the strangely bubbly woman that he had danced with even though part of him still recognizes her. The year might have taken a toll, but most of all he understands that something was different when he later went to Raytech and saw a complete stranger at the front desk. It was something he hadn’t really had to think about too much, but now that he looks down into those tear stained reddened eyes he does think about it.

Until that simple nickname slams something else into place. A memory of a memory more than the memory itself. Only one person had ever called him that. His breath catches, he can feel the blood pumping in his ears, though it may be as much the seemingly random noises of his ability as it is the way his chest and throat both tighten.

Quién-?” he starts with a tight voice, his voice switching to Spanish without thinking about it. He swallows, maybe he’ll be needing that water that he didn’t get. “Who are you?” he continues, in a softer voice.

Lynette reaches over to take the woman's hand, giving her something solid to hang onto as well as an attempt at some comfort. She's not sure who this woman is, only that she isn't Sera any longer, but hearing her address Mateo that way and watching him try to reply gives her some idea. At least that Mateo means more to her than she let on previously. Lynette's free hand moves to brush hair back from the woman's face. "What's wrong? What happened?"

Strangers coming to her for help— or near-strangers— isn't an odd experience for her, not since before her Ferry days. "You're safe here." Which she surely already knows, but never a bad thing to confirm.

Mara is cold and clammy to the touch, like someone who was just pulled out of the ocean, except she’s also bone dry. There’s an absence of explanation in her eyes, wide and fearful as she looks to Lynette, but also something inscrutable and pained. Her answer is to both Mateo and Lynette’s questions: “I don’t know.

Tears welled up in her eyes, Mara unwinds just a little from her tight posture, one hand flat on the floor and chin raised to regard Lynette with timid uncertainty. She is much like a scared gazelle, all long-limbed and delicate looking, but belying a greater strength seen in the muscles in her bare forearms where white sleeves are rolled up, in the bruising on her knuckles that Lynette’s seen in patients who punch walls when they’re upset.

Creo que estoy rota,” Mara whispers, shifting her pale eyes to Mateo’s darker ones. “Te fallé.

At her confusion, Mateo casts concerned glances toward Lynette, as if she might be better able to understand what is going on here, but when he looks back at the tall but somehow delicate looking woman he finds himself moving closer, rubbing her arms as if he’s trying to warm her somehow, as if that alone might help. And she keeps speaking in Spanish, which causes him to hesitate again. That voice, that tone. How was it familiar? How did he know it? Why did it make his chest tighten. The longer she looks at her, the more he notices things, odd things.

She looked… if she were older and had white hair, she might have been the woman on the other side that the window that had opened in front of them on the rooftop. The window where they… where they watched what happened.

Helpless. But that’s impossible. People didn’t change ages like that between worlds. As far as he knew, at least. Maybe he was remembering the face wrong. He had mostly been staring at himself. And at her. The Lynette from the garden path.

Cómo?” he asks simply, but using the same language she’s using. “Cómo fallaste?

"Okay," Lynette says, when she doesn't have an answer, her voice gentle. Her hand doesn't leave hers. "Don't worry. We'll help you." She doesn't even check with Mateo, she knows he will. Lynette's expression turns sad at those last words, though. She understands being broken, although she's not certain which way this semi-stranger means it. "You came to the right place."

She looks over at Mateo when he voices his question, but she doesn't wait for an answer. "Help me," she says before she looks back to their visitor. "We're going to get you to the couch. Then we can talk easier. Is that okay?" Basic things. Comfortable seat. Water. Something to eat. Warmth. They can make a lot of difference.

No podría mantenerte a salvo,” Mara stutters, new and heavy tears dribbling over the bottoms of her eyelids. Though she holds Lynette’s hand, it is without much strength and the look in her eyes is distant and unfocused. Mara makes no move to rise for the sofa, seems, and seems burdened by the weight of her own body. There is a smell about her, a faint hint of salt water in her hair, like she’d been swimming in the ocean. “Pri— p—primero la V-Vanguardia,” she splutters the words out, “ahora el diluvio.” Mara begins to sob anew, “Mi dulce príncipe.

They had both seen the older version of her transform through the Looking Glass. They had both known she is intrinsically connected to Odessa, who is likewise slipping between the timelines. They had known she was Sera, and then suddenly wasn’t. And yet, there was something else behind these obvious links, something that sunk heavy like lead into the bottom of Mateo’s heart.

If she could take over the identities of others, how long had she been wearing these masks?

Moving her proved a difficult task when her being being seemed to want to remain where it was, but Mateo kept holding her arm for a long moment as he listened to what she said. First the Vanguard. Then the Flood. The more he thought about it he had seen that older woman change. It had all happened so fast, so much had been happening all at once. The whole universe had been screaming in his head just as it seemed to be in others. But no, this woman who was and wasn’t all at the same time, she felt familiar in more ways than he could explain.

Sitting back suddenly, his hand drops away from her arm. “Tu… tu eres mi madre,” falls out of his mouth without really thinking of it. It was impossible. He remembered what his mother looked like. He remember how she died. He remembered seeing her again in his mind when Kaylee had brought them all there… but those memories had been strange, changed, altered. Memories that overlapped with other memories.

Memories wrapped in a maze. A maze that led to other places, when the aurora had started to touch the sky. A maze where he had a chance to meet someone on the other side of the universe… And this woman who jumped into an older version of herself had been there too. As they stared through a window, helpless.

Estuviste ahí cuando morimos…

Lynette puts her arm around the woman's back and hoists her upward. She seems determined that this conversation not happen on the floor. Luckily, the couch isn't far and Lynette is strong enough to support her on the way there. Once there, she helps her down and then leaves the pair of them there.

Not necessarily for long, but long enough to make some tea and bring it back out. Something warm. The words haven't gone over her head, but she can't help but feel like Mateo and his mother deserve a moment or two to themselves. She isn't far, but far enough to give them some privacy.

Si,” is all Mara can offer as Lynette helps Mateo lift her up from the floor. The weary, long-limbed woman weighs more than she appears she would, muscle weight if what Lynette feels is any indication. As they help her on shaky legs to the sofa, Mara’s pale blue eyes are welled with tears. She looks younger than Mateo, she looks too young to be the woman she thinks she is, too young to be the woman Mateo suspects she is. Among too many other incongruent details.

Once she’s on the sofa, Mara hunches forward and cradles her head in her hands, sweeping back her bangs with fingers laced together. “I… I think I was,” she says, though it isn’t clear whether she’s still talking to Mateo or responding to Lynette, or both. When she looks up, it’s to a point in space rather than either of the people who have already had a long and painful day.

I was,” Mara finds some conviction, sitting up straight and letting her hands fall out of her messy hair. “No I— I was there. But you didn’t— ” Blue eyes snap to Lynette, then Mateo. “You didn’t die. My daughter— ” she skips a beat, “my— Odessa was there. She opened a door, she— I can’t remember what happened, I was under the water, I felt her hand. I think she saved us. Because— ” Mara’s eyes widen. “Because I told her about this days ago.

The dawning realization of what’s going on seems to only make sense to Mara, and the blonde woman frantically shouts with a look locked on Mateo and Lynette. “They’re still alive!” What Mara doesn’t realize is that she’s bleeding, a little at her nose, a little at her ears, and blood vessels in her eyes have burst red on white.

This whole thing was impossible. But just fifteen years ago a majority of what he experienced every day would have seemed impossible. Mateo collapses onto the couch beside her, rubbing a hand through curly hair that has a little gray silvering parts of it. He is definitely older than the woman next to him, visibly slow, much shorter, much darker of eye, even his skin tone is naturally darker. This whole thing should be impossible.

But somehow it wasn’t. Maybe… Her next statements blow through his thoughts, visibly causing him to jump and sit up, looking at her in surprise. “Are you sure?” That they were alive, that they— That they wouldn’t need to try and get a phone call out to Lynette’s dad and tell their son that his parents were possibly gone, along with her sister and everything else. Maybe the madman on the roof was right about… one thing at least. Even if the timing was horrible.

But this woman had somehow been there, on the other side of the window. “I— I wonder if I could contact her again. But it usually only works if I’m sleeping.” And even then not always. It had only worked a handful of times, but each time… He looked down at his hand, where he had, unconsciously, reached out and taken the taller, paler, younger woman’s hand in his and grasped it. His fingers shift, slightly, but he doesn’t pull away, instead reaching up with his other hand to touch at her nose. “You’re bleeding.”

Not too long ago, that had been him. Though thankfully only from his nose, even if his dark eyes were still bloodshot from the tears of earlier. The blood had been cleaned off on the way back home.

Lynette sets the tea down on a side table, then comes to sit on the couch, too. She holds out a napkin when the subject of blood comes up. A— sadly— routine action. But it isn't uncommon around here.

It takes her a few silent moments to process that they're not dead. First, she doesn't want to let herself hope for it, in case they're wrong about Odessa getting there in time. Or in case something else happens while they're not able to help. But in the end, the thought that they're alive, that he is alive, is too much to ignore. "Well," she says eventually, "thank goodness for time travel shenanigans." Her words come with a brief chuckle. There is no other way she can think to describe anything that has been going on lately. "We have to tell Richard."

That thought comes out far more seriously. He doesn't need to think Liz died in that room when there's every chance he'll see her again.

"You'll have to try to find her," she says to Mateo, "we need to try again. They're not safe where they are, we have to help them." This world may not be perfect, but it seems like a better option that what they're dealing with.

“I need to help,” Mara says without the conviction in her voice those words require. Then, more forcefully, wiping the blood from her nose and sitting up straight she states. “I need to help.” She lays a hand not stained with blood on Mateo’s arm, looking to Lynette for a moment, then back to him.

Mi príncipe,” Mara says with a crease of her brows, fingers curling against Mateo’s arm. “I don’t— understand any of this. How I… I know what I know, how I am what I am. But I know by daughter is there in that watery tomb.” Her hand trembles on Mateo’s arm. “You’re there. If— if it’s possible that I’m— that I was— am— ” Mara’s voice hitches in the back of her throat. “This is all I have that makes sense.”

Mara’s cold blue eyes move from Mateo to Lynette, brows creased, pleading. “Whatever I can do. I know— I know you two.” She looks back to Mateo. “Something’s wrong. Everywhere. It’s like— coffee through a cloth. Leaking.” She’s starting to ramble.

“Our world is a strange one,” Mateo confesses quietly as he reaches up with a hand to rest on the one on his arm. It was strange and had been his whole life, as far as he could tell, and it just continued to get stranger. His wife had met him, another him, from another world, right before he died getting shot instead of her. Somehow his body remembered growing up with Odessa, at least for a little while, even if it was only in repressed memories of a life he wasn’t sure was real and the muscle memory of duets on a piano that they had played together. Duets neither remembered learning.

But he understood her confusion. He had so many questions himself. Most of them began with How, but— “I doubt we’ll ever understand it, but I don’t think it matters.” How, or why, or when, or where, or any of that. “But I remember that— I remember someone calling me that. It feels like I do.” Even if he can’t see a face, or remember it beyond somehow knowing it in his very being. Someone had called him that, someone he had loved, because he could feel that emotion too. “We’ll help them. We’ll bring them home. And then we’ll fix the rest of it.”

Cause she was right— the world was breaking somehow. They had seen it tonight, when they tore a hole in the sky. And it had been going on a lot longer than that. Eileen seemed to believe his ability would make it worse. Mateo was starting to think different. “Maybe it had to get worse before it can get better,” he murmurs half to himself.

Looking past over to Lynette, he nods, because he understands. He’ll have to try and rest, try to sleep, try to find some way to open his mind to whatever it was he seemed to share with the other Lynette in another world. The one he had thought was surely gone.

And he would be infinitely relieved to see her again.

"You'll come with us, then," Lynette says. She understands that need to do whatever she can. She has it, too. And she wouldn't keep her from seeing her son and daughter safely through. "We'll all do everything we can. In the meantime, you're welcome to stay here."

She looks over to Mateo, a frown coming to her face. "It always has to get worse before it gets better. But the fact is that something is broken between the worlds. It started years ago, unraveling after the incident in Alaska. It's going to let us rescue our people, but I think you can fix it. You and her and Odessa have some connection to all this." And his mother, too. Her attention shifts to Mara, her hand moving to her arm. "We'll fix it for you, too."

She seems to have every confidence that they'll manage it. Even if she's faking it for the sake of the others. It's an old habit.

“Worse…” Mara says in a shaky tone of voice, “before it gets better?” There's resonance in the way she repeats those words. There's familiarity in her eyes. “My father… used to say that. Back— back then it was about the…” her brows furrow, eyes searching for something. “I was sick.”

Looking up to Lynette and Mateo, Mara seems more resolved than ever. “Jean-Martin,” is a name she shakily exhales, one Lynette knows, one she's heard before long ago. “Jean-Martin Luis…” her blue eyes sweep the floor, then alight to Mateo and Lynette again. “I remember,” comes with a greater tone of clarity and also confusion. “I…” Her brows furrow, then blue eyes flick to Mateo in worry.

“I need to talk to Odessa.” Shoulders squared, Mara sits up straight and seems less the frightened woman she was a moment ago and more resolute. “We need to talk to Odessa.”

At the mention of his grandfather, Mateo’s brow furrows a bit and he looks between the two women, sitting back on the couch to consider what they need to do much. He doesn’t have the same experiences that his wife had with Jean-Martin Luis but him and her talked about a lot of things. Including that. He didn’t know how she would feel about that twist of circumstance.

“Of course. I’ve been meaning to try to talk to her myself,” he admits with a nod, though as he continues he explains the main reason he hasn’t. “I haven’t known how to find her, where she’s hiding. I know she is, right now.” And he had assumed it was outside of the Safe Zone. He could come and go freely, but he didn’t see much merit in wandering around outside the Safe Zone when he already had one person who attempted to murder him inside it.

He somehow doubted Eileen would listen to his reasoning of why he had broken his word and opened the portal on that rooftop and she had shown the predisposition to shoot first and talk second.

“We can go see tomorrow, after you rest.” It would give him time to try and find the Garden again, to prove his mother’s words correct. And hopefully set up a more successful attempt.

Mention of an Institute scientist has Lynette tensing up. She knows that Luis is a complicated matter— that's what Eve called him, complicated— but after Staten Island Hospital, after the Arcology, she hasn't handle the mention of that organization well.

Mostly, though, she's been able to keep it internal. Including now. It's possible only Mateo would notice the tightness in her jaw or the way her hands duck into her pockets.

"Richard will know where to find her," she says, rather than any comment on Mateo and Odessa's family connection. "We'll ask him tomorrow." It would take more than that to shake how she feels about her husband, after all. And as far as Odessa, there are worse things than that in the woman's past. "But Mateo's right. You need rest. We all do."

Rest,” Mara says with a furrow of her brows, looking at a distant point in space. But then, looking up to these two, Mara doesn’t have it in her heart to tell either of them the truth. “Rest sounds good…”

She hasn’t slept in years.

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