This World, Then The Next


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Scene Title This World, Then The Next
Synopsis The waters may be treacherous, but two sisters resolve to forge ahead.
Date October 26, 2018

The Pelago

Nothing about this New York City feels right. Then again, nothing’s felt right since before she left her own world. But Odessa Woods is in it for the long haul. Her nephew waits. Her mother waits. Whatever it takes. This world, then the next.

Staring out at the water lapping the skyscraper the travelers have holed up in, Odessa’s muted reflection betrays her state of mind, even though she’s turned away from any approach. She wears her melancholy just as assuredly as the fuchsia shawl wrapped around her shoulders. It has a vibrancy all its own.

This world, then the next.

Lynette is a mirror for that melancholy, too. When she comes to sit next to Odessa, she holds a bottle out toward her. Some sort of homemade alcoholic concoction she’s discovered since they landed. It’s been a long time since this was a priority for her, but lately she feels the need to numb herself some. She has a bottle for herself, too, one she doesn’t waste time taking a drink from.

She looks out over the water, into its distant reach past the horizon. “Do you think it ever ends?” she asks quietly, fingers curling tightly around her drink. It’s unlikely she means the water, but she is leaving space for her sister to take the easier path.

Wordlessly, Odessa takes the offered bottle and brings it to her lips for a long, slow drink. It burns going down, and that feels good, insofar as it’s some bit of normalcy. Like Isa’s moonshine. Resting her elbows on her knees, the neck of the bottle is held loosely in her curled fingers. She keeps her gaze out on the water and sighs. “I don’t see how.” It isn’t precisely the easier path, but she’s got a foot on it.

“I’ve always liked the ocean,” Odessa continues in a soft voice. “It… It’s got this force, and it can be serene, but it’s also terrible.” Slowly, the bottle is turned around by the tips of her fingers and she frowns thoughtfully. “It’ll erode the shoreline eventually as the tide comes in and out. My ability feels a bit like that to me sometimes. This constant force that’s beautiful, but will eventually…” Lifting one hand, she draws it through the air in front of her like it’s caught in a wind current. “I think it’ll make me like foam on the waves and that’ll be it. Lost to the currents.”

Like the other Odessa.

The thought is sobering, and the more she thinks of it, the less she’d like to be. So, she takes another drink.

Lynette also drinks, because Odessa speaks her own feelings on this power she's come to be holding onto. And since she has no uplifting words, she lets out a sigh instead.

"Mateo's power feels like that. Like it's eating away at me. I'm starting to be afraid there won't be any of me left by the time we get to the end of all this." She looks down at her bottle, eyes already wet and threatening tears— she looks like that more often than not lately. She's trapped; she can't go back, she can't stay, but going forward feels like walking into a sandstorm and getting worn to nothing but bone. And then nothing. But her son is forward. So forward is the only direction she is willing to go. "I don't know how to change that. For me or for you."

“You’re stronger than you think,” Odessa tells her sister-in-law. The phrase gives her a sense of deja vu, but she drinks in place of caring about why. Everything’s felt out of sorts lately, this is just one more thing.

“Maybe we don’t change it,” she continues softly. “I’ve lived with it. Mateo has lived with it. You will too, until we find some way to put things right.” Her tone is gentle, meant to be reassuring. This has been overcome by those before her, and Lynette can do it too.

She takes another drink. “It wasn’t always quite this way. I don’t know if Mateo felt it back then, but I did. One day, something just changed. The sound and the sensation got worse.” A soft sigh of frustration punctuates the thought and colors the tone of the next. “Time has this… consistency. It’s not a line, but it’s constant.” Blue eyes lift, conveying the helplessness she feels, and the way that frightens her. “And now it’s just not. I don’t know how to explain it. But things aren’t happening the way they should. Do you sense any of that?”

Time is… unhappy. It stands to reason that Space might feel similarly.

"If he did, I think it was subtle. He has… a block between his selves." Lynette breathes out, back in, deliberately like she has to remind herself to do so. She skips over the reassurance— she appreciates it, but holds a lot of doubt about her own strength. But she has no plans on laying down and giving up, so carrying on is the only option. "I know what you mean, though. I don't have a block. I slip into his other lives sometimes. Something is broken, you're right about that."

Reaching up, she tucks her hair behind her ears, then looks over at Odessa. "I think we have the answer to getting to our families, you and me. I have been trying to find the Mateo from their world. Liz and Magnes'. I think if I can reach him— when I use this ability, it works best if I know where I'm going. If I could find the right one, if I could learn the feel of their world, with the right boosts I could open the way there. You and me, we're already slipping through the cracks. That has to be a piece of the puzzle."

“I’ve seen his world,” Odessa agrees with a nod. “Elisabeth and Magnes’.” Turning in her seat to properly address Lynette now, her determination is renewed. “Between the two of us, I think we can find it. If you open el umbral, and I reach out through it… I might be able to find the right threads.” Maybe this is what they should have done all along, but Odessa had initially been reluctant to attempt to study the effects of her ability on Mateo’s. Now may be the time to change that.

There’s a gnawing fear in her gut about something Lynette said, however. “What you’re experiencing… You slip into his other lives?” That’s almost fascinating enough to distract from the dread. Almost, but not quite. “What have you seen?”

"It's worth trying, isn't it?" Lynette says, like maybe she's not entirely sure trying and failing is better than doing nothing. But there is that chance— that idea that they might succeed. "If I can get in the general direction of their world, you can find the specific thread. It could work. Javi and Isabelle can help power the portal. It— I'm so tired, Odessa." And she misses home. Her home. Their home. The life she left behind. Everyday she isn't with Manuel feels like a failure. Like it's another day for him to forget her.

"Mostly just… life. Whatever he happens to be doing in that moment. Mundane, usually. But— amazing, too." For a moment, she smiles. A warm, real smile that bubbles up from the love she has for him. Every him. "I don't think he can tell. But I think if I can find the right one and get to where I can communicate with him… maybe he can reach from their side and I can reach from here."

A tear rolls down Odessa’s cheek as she listens. “I wish I could see my James like that,” she admits. Her eyes close for a moment just as the cracks in the dam begin to form. Her shoulders shudder. “I thought—” Her voice hitches in her throat, and she needs a second to regain enough composure to continue. “I thought it would happen for me. Like it happened for you and Mateo. That I would find him again in the next world and we could be happy together.”

The first sob causes another shudder to run through her whole frame this time. She bends forward, clutching the neck of the bottle tight in one hand. “But it just happened all over again.” And if karma plays any factor, she knows precisely what she did to deserve it.

Lynette sets her bottle down in favor of wrapping her arms around her sister. Her fingers run over her hair— not unlike what she does for Evie when she’s upset, too. “I’m so sorry, Dess,” she says softly. She remembers what it’s like. The loss of the one person you can’t live without. “It’s okay to cry.” She had tried so hard not to after Mateo. For the baby. For her father. For herself. Being numb isn’t any better, is the conclusion she came to. “You’ll always love him. You’ll always mourn what could have been,” she says. There is a reason she keeps their rings on a necklace all the time. “But at the same time, you’ll always know he loved you and he would have stayed if he could have. And that will get you to tomorrow. And the next day. Until you can walk on your own.”

“I thought I could handle it.” Odessa leans into her sister’s embrace, accepting the support for what it is. It’s what she needs right now. “I’m this… I was raised to carry on. But I think about him whenever I stop moving.” And that’s all she’s been doing since she got the news that her husband was dead. She’s been on the move. First for revenge, then to try and find what Mateo and Lynette did.

“Losing him once was bad enough!” The injustice of it aches in her chest. Losing the man a second time has left her withdrawn and with only glimmers of the person she was before.”I’m afraid to look for him here. They— They said he’s here.” Jim Woods. “What if I’m a curse?”

Lynette tightens her hold on Odessa, because there is nothing else she can offer her. It isn’t fair at all. Lynette knows that pain. “You’re not a curse,” she says eventually. “James makes his own choices. He loves you like you love him. And love is never a curse. Even when it’s over. Even when you lose it. I can’t promise you it won’t always hurt, and I can’t tell you what the right choice is here, but I can tell you that a moment happiness— even just a moment— is better than a lifetime of anything else.”

Her fingers brush Odessa’s hair out of her face, tucking it behind an ear. “And you’re not alone. You have us. If you need to breakdown, we’ll be here for you to lean on. God knows we’ve all been through enough to warrant one.”

It takes some time, but eventually Odessa’s sobs quiet and she goes still again. Her head lifts from Lynette’s shoulder slowly and she nods, sniffling. She turns away politely as she fishes a handkerchief out of her pocket and composes herself again.

Her eyes are as stormy as the sea beyond when she turns back. She doesn’t deserve Lynette’s support. If it hadn’t been for her, Lynette would still have her first husband. She’d probably still have her son. By taking her Mateo’s life, she entangled her in this mess.

“We’re going to find him,” Odessa says softly, trading assurance for sympathy. “I’ll do everything in my power to reunite you with your son.” She can’t change the past, but she can do this.

Once Odessa starts to calm, Lynette gives her a warm squeeze and lets her have a moment to gather herself. She picks her bottle up, taking a quick drink as her own self-soothing effort. She only looks back when Odessa speaks again.

“I need him back,” she says, “he must be so scared. I know I am. I hope he knows I’m looking for him. I won’t stop until I find him.” The desperation in her voice is clear and raw. She used to blame Elisabeth for rampaging her way through these various worlds in her journey home, but now she understands. She needs to see her son again and she can’t pretend she wouldn’t ruin a few worlds if that’s what it took. “I don’t think I can do it without you.”

It’s just a guess right now, but she know she can’t do it alone. Odessa might be the only one who can help her.

“You won’t have to,” Odessa promises. Reaching over, she rests a hand on her sister-in-law’s shoulder and rubs her thumb over the fabric there in a manner she hopes is reassuring.

She takes her bottle up again in her free hand and takes a drink. “James was always the one good at consolation in our house. I would get upset about my mother, and he’d be there with a glass of wine, a hug, and the right words. I…” Odessa sighs softly at her own failing. “I’m not that person. I don’t know how to make things hurt less. I only know how to carry forward and keep fighting to find him.”

Her hand withdraws again and she takes one more drink, looking out at the water once more. “We should… I don’t know. Practice? I can’t control el umbral, but it can’t hurt me if I use my ability.” She remembers the beautiful calm that came when her ability collided with Mateo’s. Neither of them could have hoped to understand what it meant. Maybe if she’d taken a moment to wonder at it, he’d still be alive. “That’s what I was able to gather from the other Odessa’s world, anyway.”

“You don’t need to know the right words,” Lynette says, putting her hand over Odessa’s, “you just need to be here.” When she drops her hand, she looks over at Odessa with a more dry expression. “I do miss proper wine. This world we’re aiming for had better have some or I may cry.”

This is a joke. Because she’s already crying often enough.

“Practice is a good idea. Maybe if we start with a normal portal and see how our powers work together. Javi can coach us. And be there to shut down the portal if it gets out of hand. Maybe he and his Dessa had opportunity to see if there powers could work together.” She doesn’t sound terribly sure of that, knowing that Ruiz was always reluctant to use his ability and tended to be negated if he could be.

“The world we’re aiming for has proper wine. So long as your double’s not a war criminal in exile.” Odessa glances over to Lynette with a wry expression. “Which she’s not. So, you’re set there.” She, on the other hand, is not so lucky where they’re headed. Then again, her lot may not have been so different had she stayed in her own. It’s going to be an inconvenience to say the least.

That’s all assuming they manage to get there. She has faith that they will, but they’ll need to work for it.

Blonde hair is tucked behind one ear. “That sounds like a great place to start.” Quietly, she sighs. “It’s going to be tough, but we’re tough. Even when we don’t feel like it.” They’re both still here after losing so much. It’s a testament to what they can stand. And what they stand for. “You coax that brother of mine and I’ll find us a suitable space to try it out.”

“Hopefully she doesn’t mind sharing her face,” Lynette says with a small, but mirthless chuckle. “Or her wine.”

She looks over at Odessa, nodding to her words. “We have to be tough now.” She hasn’t been, not in a long time. But there was a time when she was. It isn’t hard to call back up, not with her son at stake. “I’ll talk to Javi. He’ll help.” She hopes, anyway.

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