There Is Always A Cost


eileen_icon.gif finn_icon.gif lynette3_icon.gif manuel_icon.gif mateo_icon.gif

Scene Title There Is Always A Cost
Synopsis After learning about a boy from across the timelines, the Ruizes come to find him.
Date December 21, 2018


Lynette borrowed a car. She paid for the gas that got them to Jersey, and the gas that will get them back to New York, but leaned on her reputation to get a good deal. She has always loved a good deal, even if these days it isn't for designer shoes. (Although sometimes.)

She pulls the car to a stop at the edge of Providence, glancing over to Mateo for a moment. She squeezes his hand and pulls it to her lips for a kiss before she starts to get out of the car. She's assuming someone will tell Eileen they're here. Or tell someone, anyway.

To be honest, Mateo had seriously considered going alone. But he didn’t have a valid US driver’s license and while he doubted they checked the roads this far out, he didn’t want to get stuck in the border when he inevitably had to come back through. And he hadn’t had the pull that Lynette has. “Sometimes I wish my portals could go any decent distance. We’d be back home in a moment.” That would be convenient. He wouldn’t complain if he wasn’t stretching as soon as he got out the seat and his feet on the ground.

The seat hadn’t had the best cushion, though it certainly tried.

Running a hand through his hair he looked around the area, a town… he hadn’t been outside the Safe Zone much, but something about this place felt familiar. As if he had dreamed about something similar once. A house in the distance catches his eye, before he looks around. What were they going to do if she attempted to kill him again?

Besides run.

It probably helps that he has a car, this time. As long as neither he nor Lynette stray too far from their vehicle, the opportunity to extract themselves from the situation remains.

And it turns out they won’t need to; a large white raven appears in the closest pine tree, its feathers shining like an opal in the winter sunlight. The woman Mateo and Lynette have come to see shows herself just a few moments later as Eileen emerges from the trees and regards the couple from the other end of a hunting rifle aimed at Mateo’s center of mass.

They’re not off to a great start.

Seeing the tone of Eileen's approach, Lynette moves to put herself in front of her husband. She reaches into her bag and produces a Banshee to point at Eileen in return. "We had such a nice conversation last time," she says, dryly, "I thought we were friends again. But then, you failed to mention that you have Manuel Ruiz, so maybe we weren't after all." Perhaps hostile isn't the right way to go about this, but Lynette can't help it. She gets that way when there are guns.

"We came to see the boy," she says, as if it were just that simple, "that's all."

The gun leveled at his center of gravity doesn’t seem to take him by either surprise or worry. Though he’s certainly concerned, he also knows that if that should happen there will be a lot of problems for both Eileen, this village and— just about everyone. “‘Nette,” Mateo whispers with a small gesture, hoping to calm her. They might have been able to be friends, despite everything, but… With a slow inhale, he moves closer, but he’s raising his hands as if to show that he at least is unarmed. As much as anyone Expressive with a potentially deadly power can ever be.

“We learned about Manuel and the girl. We know it’s not your fault.” Varlane had said so, but he didn’t quite understand. He didn’t understand any of the Kazimir part at all. But he knew who had taken his son (and the other girl). “We just want to take them off your hands and make sure they are given a safe home.” Yes, he said them. Start big.. “I know we’re not Manuel’s parents, but we’re the closest thing to it in this world to them.”


The raven in the pine is joined by marginally smaller, darker shadows: a murder of crows sounding like wind passing through the trees. Claws scratch and bite at the bark as they secure their footing and loosen needles that flutter to the damp earth below.

There are even tinier birds, too. Finches and sparrows that scissor between the bushes in Lynette’s peripheral vision. Under normal circumstances, this might not be cause for alarm, except that the air is devoid of their cheerful, twittering calls — or really any other noise at all.

Eileen is drawing them into her.

“They’ve been uprooted once already,” she says, without lowering the weapon. Although it’s also important to note that her finger also hasn’t yet tightened around the trigger. She seems willing to at least listen. “Don’t flaunt selfishness in my face and call it charity. That’s Richard’s schtick.”

"I'm okay, my darling," Lynette says, to Mateo, "I just don't like people pointing weapons at you. Especially when they've already proven they're willing to use them." You know, like last time. She glances upward, toward the birds gathering, then back to Eileen. She's fully aware of how dangerous they can be. And how dangerous she can be. With or without her conduit.

Still, something in Eileen's reply gets an amused look to cross Lynette's face. Just for a moment. Just a blink. Then she straightens her expression out again. "I want my son," she ends up saying, like maybe she's not clear on who his parents really are. But things are confusing lately. She's spent enough time in the other Lynette's life to know how deep the ache goes, to learn to share it with her. "We won't take him unless he wants to come. We would like to meet him. If you have your way, he'll never see his parents again, right? I want him to know we're here. That we care about him." She lets out a breath, then lowers her weapon to her side.


The movement of the birds gets a flicker of a glance from Mateo. He’s watching everything, ready to act quickly if need be. But he’s not sure he could react faster than a bullet, which he is certainly worried about having happen, still. He can almost feel that ache in his chest that had been a common presence for a few months after. As Lynette takes it up and implores, he nods. He had promised himself he would try for the girl, for what Varlane had done letting them into his mind and telling them about their son.

Even before he’d learned of him through the colors alighting the sky. But.

“Yes,” he states simply, agreeing with Lynette’s words. “At least let us see him.” From what he understood, the boy had been old enough when he’d been taken. If he knew that they cared, that they wanted him… But at the same time, Lynette was right. “We didn’t come here to kidnap him.”

“You aren’t his parents.” Eileen’s voice is firm, steady, but it’s the sort of level that’s sustained only through a great degree of effort. “You may look like them,” she says, “you may even share exactly the same genetic structure— exactly the same markers, but your bodies aren’t the ones that conceived him. Or carried him. Your hands have never held his hands. Your mouths are still getting used to the shape of his name.”

Her language is strange and specific — even for Eileen. It maybe occurs to her that she ought to elaborate on where sentiments like these come from: “I sympathize,” she adds. “I had a husband where we come from. A family. There’s a man here with the same name and face, but he isn’t mine any more than the boy is yours.”

She takes a step forward and a twig snaps under the pressure of her leather riding boot.

“All that said, if you want him — you can have him. But there’s a cost.”

"I know," Lynette says, fingers curly tightly around the Banshee, even though it isn't pointed at anything but the ground. "But I've seen how much she misses him. And I've cried with her for him. Mateo and I know them and everything they gave up for the chance they might see him again." She looks back to Mateo, face crinkling for a moment as she tries to put off some display. That would be unseemly.

She looks back, eyebrow lifted.

"What cost?" There are things she'll pay and things she won't, after all. But negotiation is a more comfortable place than begging. For her.

In response to those words, Mateo just shakes his head. She’s wrong, her sympathize unnecessary as the words she thinks are fact. For her it might be the truth, but for them, it is not. There was more to parenthood than blood, there was more to love than physical bodies, appearances and even shared experiences. He knew that every him loved every her, no matter the world. He knew it.

And the events of the last few weeks when the sky changed only showed him more and more. He had a book with scribbles and poems written by another, who died saying her life. They shared a garden together now, him and the boy’s mother. Along with every him, possibly.

“There always is.” A cost. And this time he has an idea what it might be, but he’ll wait for her to say it.

“Mateo never uses his ability again.”

Eileen’s demand is short and to the point. Unlike her earlier reasoning, she must not believe that it requires any explanation because she leaves it at only that.

Lynette tilts her head back to look at the sky. The broken sky. It has never been a good source of advice and it isn't here, either. But she shifts back to Eileen after a moment of consultation. "That might not stop them from coming." Who knows what the rules are now, after all.

She turns to Mateo, since it's his ability in question. "It's your call. But for him?" Well, he knows her opinion. Of
course, easier to have it when it isn't her having to make the sacrifice.

"We see the boy, we take him if he wants to come, and you stop trying to kill Mateo." Those are her terms, but she gestures to her husband, in case he wants to add any.

Of all the things. Mateo stares at the woman for a long moment like she just asked someone to never sing again. Or in some cases to stop breathing. Because his ability was more than what she saw. It was the constant roar of the universe in his head, the whispers of winds and crackling of lightning and rolling of thunder. It was perhaps even the dreams, he didn’t know for sure.

But he knew his ability wasn’t one he could just stop using. He’d tried for years, until he learned enough control to only use it when he wanted— mostly. He wondered how much she even knew about his ability and how it worked. Would she have really asked the impossible?

Not that she needed to know that. After a long moment he nods. “I do whatever it takes, assuming he wants to go with us in the first place.” If that’s what the boy wants, was still in the air.

Lynette’s amendment tugs the corner of Eileen’s mouth into a wan smile. “As long as you keep your end of the bargain,” she says, lowering her rifle, “I’ll be an ally, not an enemy.”

Her hand drops to the radio she wears at her hip and depresses one of the buttons with her thumb.


The answer is a short, crackling of static that communicates the man on the other end can hear her.

“Bring the boy to the east entrance.”

An agreement seems to have been reached and Lynette slides her weapon back into her bag. "Thank you," she says, genuinely so. "As I understand it," she adds with a sigh, "we're going to need a lot of allies soon."

She doesn't know who Finn is, but when Eileen says his name, Lynette takes in a shaky breath. Not for Finn's sake, bless him, but for the boy he's meant to bring with him. She reaches for Mateo's hand, more nervous now than she was a moment ago with a gun pointed at her.

In the distance, somewhere in the treeline, comes the sound of a bird call, though Eileen will know it’s not from any winged creature. A moment later, a man’s laugh sounds, followed by words too far-off to hear. Eventually the crunch of shoes on ground, two sets, can be heard, and finally, two figures emerge from the thicket — one, a small child, cupping his hands and trying to emulate the bird call made moments before by his escort, a tall, broad-shouldered man guiding Manuel Ruiz by the shoulder.

“Less air. Tighter hands,” he instructs, lifting his own to demonstrate again. The boy’s eyes are downcast, focusing on the way his fingers fold around one another, as he tries again without success.

Finn’s green eyes, however, are on the vignette before him, eyes immediately to Eileen, to wait instructions. He’s armed with a handgun visible at his belt, and a rifle slung across his back.

Mateo had braced himself to see the boy, but he hadn’t fully prepared himself for it. Straight dark hair, definitely the straight from his mother’s side, the boy had some of her in his face and some of him. Eyes were lighter than he would have expected too, but his father’s dark eyes, but somewhere closer to pale brown with flecks of color. The man’s breath catches, the sound in his head roaring away until he almost thinks his ears are ringing.

The boy continues to move his hands around, until he suddenly manages to get the bird call right. Less air, tighter hands. “I got it!” he said softly, voice cheerful. Because everyone likes Finn. And Manuel is among the everyones. He still doesn’t see the ghosts of his parents, cause he’s too busy looking up at the much tall man in a bid for appreciation.

Lynette watches the boy approach, glancing between him and the man with him. She doesn't miss the guns, given the way her expression darkens, but she doesn't pull hers out again, so at least there's that. When she looks back to Manuel again, she softens just in time for him to look their way.

He stops short, staring at the two familiar faces— familiar, but different. When he tears his attention away, he looks up at Finn, as if confused. But he isn't.

"They look just like them," he says, voice more subdued. It isn't usually, not with Finn around. But the others know him as a more timid child. Especially the ones he's more afraid of.

When he’s close enough, Eileen reaches out with her dominant hand and grazes gloved fingers through the dark mop of hair on the child’s head. This is goodbye.

She takes a knee beside Manuel. “I think,” she says, sotto voce for Lynette and Mateo’s benefit, “you should give them a chance.” The hand that had touched his crown moves to his chin, and she affectionately taps her thumb against the dimple there. “You know how I always call you my clever little rabbit? It’s time for you to be with other rabbits, love.”

“Whoop! We got a winner winner chicken dinner!” says Finn when the boy manages to make the noise, He looks down when Manuel says the two present look “just like them,” and he sighs softly.

“That must be a good sign then, don’t you think?” he asks, quietly moving the both of them forward, stopping once he’s near Eileen. His brows draw together, and he looks to Lynette and Mateo while the woman whose lead he follows makes her farewells to one of the youngest in their community.

He lifts his brows as he studies the two who’ve come to take Manuel, appraising them thoughtfully. Slowly he reaches into his pocket to pull out a penny, making sure the two parents — or sort of parents — see there’s no weapon. It’s one that he used to tell the children was lucky, a little myth to go with the stories of his lucky near misses.

“Here you go, rabbit,” he tells the little boy, putting the penny in the small hand and clasping a hand around it. “Buena suerte, amigo.” He uses the ‘Iago accent’ that he teases the other man with.

Something that was said causes Mateo to clench his right hand into a fist for a moment before he loosens it once he noticed he’d done it at all. They looked like them may have had something to do with it too. He can’t lie and say that he is them, he can’t pretend it, even to a kid. And he can’t even say that the boy will ever see those they look like again. “We hope you do— give us a chance,” he says after a moment. “We tried to find you as soon as we knew.” It had taken some time, Eileen didn’t exactly leave forwarding addresses, but Kaylee had said she had some leads.

The young boy looks hesitant, casting a glance up at Eileen, up at Finn, and then back to those who look like them. Mateo’s not even sure if he’s saying the right thing. He doesn’t know the boy. He doesn’t know everything he’s gone through. He looks happy, healthy— they weren’t hurting him.

But he while he wasn’t theirs by normal standards, he was all at the same time. All leaves from the same trees. All a part of an infinite garden that they had built somewhere far away. “We’d like to take you home with us.”

After letting them have their moment, Lynette steps forward, bringing Mateo along with her. "This doesn't have to be goodbye forever. We don't live too terribly far from here. I'm sure we can visit each other," she glances over to Finn, then to Eileen. She wasn't sure what she expected, but she's not so cruel as to cut him off entirely. When she refocuses on Manuel, she holds a hand out to him, to shake. "I'm Lynette," she says when he takes it, his handshake is clumsy and unpracticed, but she takes it with a smile. "This is Mateo."

"I'm Manuel," he says, even though he knows they already know that. Somewhere, he learned it was polite to introduce himself, so he does. When Lynette lets go of his hand, he turns to offer it out to Mateo next.

"It's nice to meet you," she says in reply. "We have a space ready for you, if you want to try it out."

Manuel looks back to Eileen, blinking as he considers other rabbits. It's a long moment, especially for the Ruizes, but the boy turns back and tilts his head quizzically.

"Do you have any books?"

Eileen braces her hand against the inside of her thigh as she pushes herself to her feet, shouldering her rifle. The look she exchanges with Finn is subdued, but knowing. He’s spent enough time in the Englishwoman’s company to understand that she’s trying to communicate this is for the best.

Finn steps forward so that his chest lightly bumps Eileen’s shoulder, a subtle show of solidarity, support. A subtle show that she’s the boss. “If he wants to and it’s okay by her,” he tells Lynette with a nod to the petite woman who’s in front of him.

He watches Manuel for a moment, before speaking again. “We’ve read all of ours at least twice, the ones he can, and a few of those are missing pages. Ferdinand the Bull, it’s missing like three pages right in the middle. I kept looking for it when I was in the city but couldn’t find it. Amazon doesn’t deliver out here,” he gestures to their wilderness.

“See ya, Manny,” he says, quietly, before glancing down at Eileen, then back to the strangers he’s never seen.

There’s a exhale of relief from a breath Mateo hadn’t noticed he was holding. It had been a stressful few moments, though he had to look toward the two who brought the boy to them and give them a mental thanks. It was hard to thank the woman who took the boy and hadn’t told them about him, especially since she had shot him, but he could at least do it silently.

“We do have books. Many of them. I’m sure you’ll be reading all my Borges short stories in no time.” Cause he had all of them. Lynette had loved them too. “But we have other books. And there’s a Children’s Library not too far away.” Much closer than to here, at least. That was full of books.

"I dreamed of a labyrinth of labyrinths," Manuel quotes. He's familiar with Borges. "Mom used to read it to me." He looks at Lynette, at Mateo, taking them in before he steps over to stand between them.

Lynette closes her eyes for just a moment. Of course she read him that. Not exactly age appropriate, but important. To all of them. Her hand comes to rest on Manuel's shoulder and she turns back to Eileen and Finn.

"We'll be in touch," she says, a promise for the boy more than for the adults. "Mateo," she says with a glance to the car, "ready?" She only heads that way after he does. After Manuel has waved goodbye and started after him. She glances back to Eileen, then turns to the car as well.

It's hard to call her eager, but now that he's with them, she wants to be home.

“You had better hope this does stop them.” Eileen’s next goodbye is for the boy’s newest caretakers. “If they do come back, they’ll bring Death with them.”

Eileen returns Finn’s touch as she moves away, showing Lynette and Mateo her back. Either she trusts them not to shoot her while her guard is down, or she simply doesn’t want either of them to way her face crumples when nobody is looking.

She departs, disappearing into the space between the trees that she first appeared, silent as the winter fog beginning to roll into the clearing now that the sun has started its descent.

Time to go.

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