Tunnel Vision


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Scene Title Tunnel Vision
Synopsis Mateo witnesses just how far Lynette's paranoia stretches and she gets to witness him under pressure. These both go real well!
Date December 8, 2016

The Benchmark Center: Mexico

Times are a little strange around the Center lately. Lynette, generally reclusive and of few words, has been out in the common rooms more, out in the gardens more, among the people more. Her smile comes easier. Her manner warmer. No one around the center is confused as to why, except maybe Lynette herself. And the people here seem to know better than to bring it up in front of her, although whispers sneak through every hallway around the place.

This afternoon, Lynette is sitting in the common room with a group of children sitting scattered around the floor in front of her. She's holding up a book, one that's she's reading out to the littlest kids that live here. Some of the older ones are here, too, but less intrigued by Dr. Seuss.

"'¡No!' dijo nuestro pez. 'Se tendrá que marchar! Díganle a ese gato no quieren jugar. No debe estar aquí,'" Lynette reads out with drama befitting the poor fish in The Cat In The Hat. It makes the kids laugh. That, or her accent. She can't shake sounding like an American. "'No debe estar acá. ¡No debe estar aquí si su mamá no está!'" She even reaches out to give the child closest to her a playful shake.

More than just children are listening. Mateo leans against the wall of the common room, a grin on his lips as he listens to her read in Spanish. His accent is Argentine, most the time, but he apparently can speak with a more Mexican accent, too. Just like his accent in English is much more learned than most people's. He had always been good with accents, and learning how to pronounce things the way that others did. His mother had been an English and literature teacher for the local school when he was growing up. It had all been thanks to her.

Even though she'd read much different things to him, growing up than Dr. Seuss.

Silvia at least, who knew him a long time ago, has also noticed a change in him. For one, he's actually staying rather than stopping in once a week like he did in her safehouses before he came here. And his smile touches his eyes more and more, completely genuine.

Especially when he's looking at the woman reading to children. Like now.

The reading goes on, lively and interactive as the children sometimes shout out their favorite parts or make each other laugh as children often do. It's something of a miracle that they're all still sitting there. But some of them catch sight of Mateo against the wall and can't seem to stop looking his way. And giggling. And eventually, Lynette notices. And is suspicious. So she turns to see who's there.

And honestly seems a little embarrassed. Whatever she mutters under her breath has the kids laughing anyway.

Then, a blue light flashes in the corner and everyone in the room looks over at it. Sobered. And then everyone moves. "Silvia," Lynette calls to the girl, "los jovenes." The girl nods and starts to collect the kids.

"I'll call Mr. Rowan," one of the other teenagers says, and then rushes off to do just that. Everyone seems to know where to go and what they're supposed to do. So much so that there is no way Lynette doesn't make them run drills every so often. "Show Mateo where to go," is called after, but Lynette heads for the door that leads out to the gardens. And out to the gates.

The kid's giggling and looks did not go unnoticed and Mateo even raised a hand to wave fingers at them, before continuing to look at the beautiful woman with a book. But then the light starts to flash. There's obvious confusion on his face for a moment— he has never seen this before, but the kids seem to know exactly what to do. As does Lynette.

As one of the kids moves to 'show him where to go' he waves them off. "Go on, I'll be fine," as he moves to follow Lynette toward the gardens and the gates, quickening his pace to catch up with her.

"What's going on?" he asks, but he expects that the answer will appear soon enough, even if she doesn't say anything.

Once outside, Lynette is moving at a quick clip toward the guardhouse. Normally, this is a place where visitors check in and out and new patients are greeted for the first time. It does not look like the place to go in an emergency. It takes her a second to realize who is following her, but when he speaks up, she looks over at him. "Trouble incoming," she explains, as she reaches over to pull open the gatehouse door. "What are you doing?" Because, see, he should have gone with the others.

Inside the little building, there's a ladder and a small safe under the desk. She goes to the safe first, spinning the lock until it pops open. Inside is a small collection of guns. She takes a hand gun and extra clips before she looks over at him. "Do you know how to use one of these?"

As soon as he has an idea that danger is on the horizon, Mateo just gives her a look as if 'of course I followed you' is what he wants to say. He doesn't, as the weapons appear. With a raised eyebrow, he offers a soft, "I know what end the bullets come out." It looks like there were more differences between him and his doppleganger. That one knew exactly how to use the weapon he took off the dying duplicating mother in the hallway.

This one? Not so much.

He doesn't shy away from taking it, though, even if he hopes she'll give him some information to go on besides 'what end the bullets come out'.

But at least he knows to look for a safety. That's always in movies.

"What's going on?" he asks, looking back out the door. What trouble is there?

Lynette catches that look as she passes him over the weapon. It brings a hint of a smile to her face, but she turns to pull out a rifle, which she hangs over her shoulder, and a pistol for herself as well. And then she shuts the safe and stands back up to turn his way. "Use both hands, it'll help keep you steady. The recoil won't be bad, but it might surprise you the first time or two. Gunfire will draw attention so don't shoot unless you're ready to get shot at. We're going to the roof, there's some cover you can duck behind. You won't hit anyone until they're closer with that, so don't waste the bullets."

That is wartime habit.

"We're a medical facility. We have SLC Expressives here. It makes us a target." She seems to think that's enough to explain it, because she turns to start for the ladder. She gets a foot on the bottom rung before she pauses. Instead of climbing, she turns back to him, to pull him into a kiss. A fierce one.

"Yeah, that sounds about right," Mateo responds quietly, even as the fierce kiss breaks. There's a hint of haunting in his eyes, as it seems that, perhaps, he might have once had experience with people who'd wanted to use him for his ability. He didn't exactly talk about anything in his life between manifestation and leaving Argentina. And if she knew anything about Argentina, she'd probably understand why.

"Guessing this isn't one of those situations where negotiation is an option…" The guns are another method of negotitation, and the only one certain people understand. A gang? He hopes it's just a gang.

"They won't get you," Lynette says at the look in his eyes, "They won't get anyone." She means that, too. There's a certain amount of darkness in her words that tells of how far she's willing to go keep that particular promise. "You can go back inside if you want. We've done this before."

Then she turns and starts up the ladder. Flipping open the door to the roof, she glances back down at him. "We'll see. In my experience, if they show up with guns, we're past negotiation." And then she climbs out onto the roof. One the other buildings, there are a pair of figures with rifles of their own. Former Ferrymen, one could probably guess. And coming toward them over the dirt, instead of using the road, is a trio of cars — one truck and two SUVs flanking it.

Go back inside if he wants? Any other person being involved in this potentially horrible situation and he might have given back the gun and gone inside to let them handle it. But this is Lynette.

Mateo's not going anywhere.

Not long after she reaches the top, he's right behind her, rubbing his hand through his hair as he looks down at the truck and SUVs that are not obeying any form of traffic law. "How often does this happen?" he has to ask, as he looks at those with her, more than ready to take part in this battle, even if he's not. He might have been in… some similar situations in the past, but he can't claim to have been in this exact kind of situation. Ever. He looks intend to just stay close to the blonde electrokinetic at this point. The kids downstairs would be giggling again, he is sure.

Toward the front of the building, there is a tall ledge, which is where Lynette goes to crouch. And look out over the cars. He doesn't go away, so she leaves room there for him to do the same. "More often than I'd like," she says dryly. A beat passes before she gives him a real answer. "There's been five raids since I got here. Attempted raids." Unfortunately for them, they came up against a group of people fresh from battle. And a paranoid electrokinetic. "Desperate times, ecetera."

She looks over at Mateo, her head tilting a little. "Want to try some precision strikes?" she asks, as if this were just another training session. "Just remember, adrenaline doesn't take you very far. You have to steady yourself through it otherwise you'll tank early. Even breaths, even heartbeat, stay focused." She glances over the wall, apparently waiting until the convoy is a little closer before she looks back at Mateo. "Think you could get me to that truck?"

You know, the one with gunmen hanging out in the bed. That truck.

Even breaths, even heartbeats? Easier said than done, but Mateo does pay attention to his breathing, at least as he watches the convoy get closer and closer. And then she makes her request and he looks sharply at her. "My portals don't move. Even if I planned it perfectly…" That's a no. At least as long as the truck is moving. Even if it stopped, though, he might hesitate. It's her after all. Jumping through a portal into a group of men with guns.

She may be a war hero, but he knows she's not invincible. He's seen her war wounds.

However, she did give him an idea— he looks down toward the trucks from where he's perched beside her. She'll feel the electricity in the air get pulled. Not just from the building below them, but from that truck. Cause he's trying to open two at once, as close together as possible. One in front of them, one just behind the truck. Too small for her to jump through, though. That had been intentional.

"Maybe you can shoot through that." Lightning, he means.


"That's a good point. And good to know." Lynette checks her ammo in her rifle, then glances over at the other roofs. Then she looks back to Mateo. It's possible that she thinks she's invincible — or that her luck is pretty good — because she looks a little disappointed.

She looks out at the vehicles when she feels that pull of electricity, and when the portals form, she has to duck back into cover again. Because their company starts to shoot. Her people shoot back, too, but Lynette seems more interested in Mateo's idea. Even if he did make his portal too small for her to do something reckless with.

"We're about to find out," she says and she holds a hand out toward the portal, firing a bolt through it. Blind, of course. And she does have to fire in bolts, but they come at a steady clip.

If he has to be the one to keep her from doing risky things, so be it.

But who knows what he would have done if he thought it would have been at all possible to accomplish. With the trucks having been moving, they'll never know. Mateo's decent at math, but he's not sure he can do those calculations in his head to make the other portal appear where he needed it to so that she would arrive somewhat safely.

The little bolts of lightning fly through the portal, not otherwise affected by the ring of electricity that holds it open, but pulling bits of it away with each blast. It won't last long, most likely, if when they threw things through his portals were any indication. But they seek out conductive materials on the other side.

Which includes a big ass truck full of people who are now shooting at them.

Lynette's electricity is nothing to sneeze at, but she seems to be going a bit easy. When her bolt slips through the portal and hits one of the guys, he is hurt — yes — but not outright killed. The other guys turn back, and just in time for another bolt to fly past the truck. It's the third one that hits the body, sending a shock through the truck. Everyone touching it rears back with the pain, and shots from the roofs slam into the sides of the truck.

Lynette props her rifle against her shoulder, joining in with the others to try to get the cars stopped. It's hard to say whose shots hit the tires, but two of them go out in the volley and the truck veers off course, coming to a stop in the way of the left SUV.

"Good shot," Mateo responds with a grin, even if he can only barely see the effect over the top of the ledge that he's doing his best to stay behind. On the last bolt, the portals seem to get sucked into the blast, discharging even more electricity that she can gather up on the way through. He doesn't know how much more of those he can do, but it had been a small contribution.

If only he was not afraid of his full ability, he could feel something inside him whispering. If only he trusted himself enough to use it.

And if only he could forgive himself for all the times he'd used it before…

As the vehicle comes to a stop, he peeks over again, twisting his hand as he his portals pull together more energy— this time pulling even more out of the vehicle's battery, and the building below. The lights flicker. The engine sputters. This time it's bigger— she could jump through it and come out above them— he flashes her a quick look. It tells her to be careful far more than any words could.

"Thanks," Lynette says with a glance in his direction. The smile comes a moment later, after seeing his grin. She reaches a hand over to squeeze his arm. She doesn't seem to mind that he's not using the more decisive aspect of his ability; what he is bringing to the table is pretty good by her count. Taking a few more shots with her rifle, she works on shattering windows and generally being flashy. More so than trying to really hurt anyone. It's more like she's trying to scare them off.

Of course, they don't scare easy. People pop out of the stopped SUV, guns out and firing toward the buildings. Not all right on them, thankfully, but enough to make that ledge useful.

When he makes his next portals, Lynette looks over at him with a lifted eyebrow. Questioning.

But his look seems to be answer enough for her, because she passes him her rifle and gets up to her feet. To run at the portal. She's already sparking before she passes through, and she pulls the portal's electricity with her as she appears over the convoy. It is a sight, even at a distance, to see her landing on the roof of the SUV and striking those closest to her like a particularly angry storm. But as impressive as it might be, she is outnumbered out there and given that she's right there guns turn in her direction a moment after she appears.

All the electricity that had been gathered gets pulled up, causing that roar in the back of his head to strengthen for a moment as Mateo feels the pressure of his ability getting manipulated. He had been prepared for it. It didn't hit as hard as it had when she closed the unstable one, the point A with no Point B. Instead— No, he had a point B.

And she happened to now be cut off from him, fighting on her own down there.

A droplet of blood formed at his nose, as he shifted to look, watching, allowing the others to shoot while he just waited to see if he needed to open an escape route back for her.

Dark eyes darted from one danger to the next, not even bothering to pay attention to staying hidden very well. One bullet grazes the ledge close to him, but he doesn't seem to notice it, focused entirely on her, and distracted by that noise in his head.

At least she is easy to keep an eye on. Lynette whips around at the sound of gunfire and drops flat against the roof to avoid getting shot. And she rolls off the roof to the far side of the cars, where a bright flash gives away her position. And probably is not a good sign for the guys that were on that side of the SUV.

Shots from the rooftops split the attackers' attention. Bullets pepper the buildings, and one zooms right past Mateo, not accurate enough to strike, but warning that they're close to it. Distracted as he is, they might get their chance.

A second bullet whistles by, then a third— it's the fourth one that finds purchase. At first, Mateo doesn't even notice it, like a sting that buzzed by his shoulder, pulling on him like someone had just decided to flick his shoulder with a whip. Just a graze, but enough to make that noise darken, enough to turn the volume up a few notches. Not only that, but those attackers are turning their weapons toward Lynette—

His Lynette.

She'll feel it before she sees it, the static and power from cellphones and car batteries pulling together into the air before exploding outward into a… hole.

It's bigger than the one he'd made on the beach. Bigger and stronger. The air hangs for a second, before it all starts rushing toward it, like someone had suddenly opened up a hole into space— a hole in the atmosphere.

Unlike before, he's paying very close attention, he's watching it— He opened it with purpose. All his worries overpowered by… something deeper. Something that had always been there. And something completely new.

From behind the SUV, Lynette leans out to trade shots with the others. She has to duck when their bullets smash through the glass, leaving her sprinkled with shards that she tries to dust out of her hair while a group of the gunmen start to round her cover.

But that's when she feels it, the portal pulling electricty from around her. She sparks a little more, offering fuel for that particular fire, instead of trying to put it out. She straightens to watch through blown out windows as guns fly out of hands and shouts of confusion and — let's face it — fear come from the convoy around her. Her dress flutters toward it, her hair, too, but she's the only one there who doesn't seem to mind. When people start sliding toward it, that's when they try to run and the one working SUV turns to head away from the portal, even as it tugs against it.

Instead of being vertical and upright, like usual, this one is pointed downward, pulling up dust and glass and debris— and guns. A hat or two. A bandana gets ripped off and flies up toward it. As the people run, they are fortunate to be able to, except for one, one who was closer than the others. Like the dust, he begins to rise upward, pulled against it, his arms flailing out as he calls out. For help, in terror, it didn't matter. His hand finds the door of the truck, holding on as his feet rise up, like some great force trying to pull him up by his legs—

One boot slips, flies upward, spiraling until it disappears into the darkness—

Mateo's eyes stay focused on it, that noise, that voice finding release as it roars to life in the world around them. Only when the boot flies through does he hear the cries for help, does he stop to look toward the blonde woman— with windblown hair and shifting dress. As the truck itself starts to move, creek under the pressure, he closes the hand he didn't even remember opening…

And it closes with it, the man with one boot falling to the dust.

With the SUV between her and the portal, Lynette keeps a hand on it as she watches, but even when it starts to slip toward the portal, the only conern she shows is a glance up toward the roof of the guardhouse. The other ex-Ferrymen on the rooftops have stopped shooting and are probably looking his way, too. Or at the portal. Or both. It is a sight.

When it closes, Lynette can't help a proud smile coming to her face. But she fixes it into a scowl as she rounds the SUV and the truck to stand over the only man left behind. Mateo can't hear what she says to him, of course, but it sends him scrambling to his feet and running after the rest of his people. And she lets him go, folding her arms and leaning a hip against the truck.

It's hers now, even if it is just for salvage.

Once they're out of sight, Lynette shifts to start walking back toward the campus. Her fingers attempt to smooth her hair, but there's little hope for it just now.

The closed hand lowers to the ledge, but Mateo barely allows himself to blink until she looks up at him for a moment. And then he sinks down, slumping. It wasn't really that it took so much energy out of him to open it— closing it seemed to take more. It probably would have closed on it's own eventually, once the energy holding it together dissipated. No. It's the exhaustion of that sensation, that echo of a roar that tears through him as it demanifests from the sky.

It hurt. It ached. But it was over.

Reaching up, he brushed the blood from his nose, more than it had been, before he looked toward the others on the roof with them. He expects it, for them to look at him differently—

But he doesn't wait to see it, instead picking up the gun he didn't even remember dropping and moving to the ladder, the twinge and blood on his shoulder making him flinch as he moved down to meet her half way.

Lynette's watching, so when he slumps out of sight, she picks up her pace and starts to run back. Worried. Not about him being dangerous, but about him being hurt. And alone. She's seen how it affects him, after using his power this way, and she seems to have a mind to not let him handle it by himself.

Never again, maybe.

She's got her own wounds, but just scratches from broken glass. They're not enough to stop her from all but running right into him. Her hands move to his face, through his hair, down to his neck as if she needs to make sure he's still solid. The others might look at him differently, but it's tempered by Lynette's apparent faith in him. And if she looks at him differently, it's only with wonder. For several reasons.

"You're okay," she whispers to him, reassurance repeated as she presses her cheek against his. After a moment, though, she adds, "You were magnificent."

This time.

This time no one disappeared into the abyss. This time he did not kill anyone. This time.

That white noise in the back of his head reminds him oh so easily that it could have been different. Very different. But it wasn't, and she's suddenly in his arms, pressing her cheek against his. Mateo's eyes close, ignoring that smeared blood on his cheek, ignoring the pain in his shoulder where the bullet ripped through his shirt and spilled blood on his clothes. Just her. Just that one, beautiful spark of light at the end of a long dark tunnel.

"No— you were," he whispers, smelling the electricity off of her skin. Before he could not have told anyone what lightning smelled like— now he knows. "And you're fine?" he asks, not sure he can trust his eyes. Or he just wants to hear her say it.

"I'm fine," Lynette says, leaning back enough to give him a warm smile. "I'm great," she adds, and she really seems it, too. There's a sparkle to her eye that seems to be riding the rush of a fight and she turns to look back to the abandoned trucks. "That was amazing. I just dropped right on top of them." Her hand drops to his shoulder, hanging on. "They did not see that coming."

When she turns back to him, that's when she sees the blood and that excitement snuffs out in favor of worry. "They hit you," she remarks, her brow furrowing. It isn't bad, which is good, but she still gestures back toward the campus. "Let's get it cleaned up." It is dusty out here, after all. She's dusty, too, but that doesn't seem to bother her.

Looking off into the direction that they'd been attacked, toward the truck and the SUV. Mateo can't even see them anymore, so he pretty much hopes that means they have decided to not try again today. The campus has alarms, he is sure they are ready for a second attack, if it will happen. "We'll have to try the 'drop down like a bolt of lightning' thing more…" Even if he knows it had prompted him to break his promise to himself and risk using his ability on them.

He's just glad all that they lost were some guns and a boot. And debris. Nothing that could not be replaced some day.

"Oh— right, I was," he looks toward the bleeding wound, though it's not bleeding much. The bullet didn't even lodge, it just ripped the skin level, not even to the muscle. It will take a bandage, perhaps stitches, but it should heal— even if it leaves a scar. A small one to match her many.

With nod, he moves to follow her gesture.

"Yes, we're going to add that to the training. Pretty much right now," Lynette says with a chuckle. "I liked your idea of shooting through them, too. We could work on that, too." Her arm slides around his back and she moves them through the gate. There's still activity on the campus, but it's less frenzied than before. No doubt some of them are going out to pull the vehicles in, others going to reset the alarms, but in any case, Lynette doesn't pay them much attention.

"Didn't you notice?" she asks with a crooked smile. She knows that such things can slip by when you're distracted, but she teases him all the same. After locking the gate behind her, she leads the way back to the common room, where there are plenty of first aid supplies. "Sit down," she notes, gesturing him toward a chair while she goes to fetch the kit.

"Whatever you say, profesora," Mateo responds with a tease as she plans to add all kinds of things to their practicing. Even if he mostly wants to say that he doesn't think he's really cut out for battle and he hopes that they don't need to do it often. He had, after all, completely forgotten about his gun during the whole thing, had lost himself in the sounds that were not even there and…

"I felt it," he shrugs his shoulder, even as it makes his eyebrows lower, his lips press together. He felt it, but he'd been so focused on… her. On that roar. On everything not actually him, that he had almost forgotten about it. In one way it might have been a good thing— in another…

"I wasn't sure it actually hit, though— it didn't hurt much." Not as much as he thought.

But the longer his body has to calm down, the softer that roar gets— oh yeah, he can feel it. Maybe he'd not kept his adrenaline down nearly as much as she probably hoped.

His tease gets a smirk as Lynette looks over her shoulder at him, but she can't argue, because she has a lesson plan and everything. It might only be in her head, but only because no one has given her a notebook to jot it all down in.

She comes back over with the kit, dragging a stool with her before she settles herself next to him. "It'll hurt soon," she says, a gentle warning from someone who has been there before. Of course, he's already starting to feel it, but she still says it. She doesn't, though, point out that he should have been keeping himself calmer. Because she's been there, too. "But not for long, promise."

She flips open the first aid kit, peering at the supplies before she looks over to him again. "But this part will sting a little," she offers with an apologetic smile. But he soon finds out that her touch is gentle, maybe just for him, but that's all that counts just now.

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