lynette_icon.gif mateo_icon.gif

Scene Title Unstable
Synopsis Another lesson does not go as good as the first and Lynette finally sees what he's been warning her about.
Date November 26, 2016

Benchmark Recovery Center: Mexico

The beach seems to be his designated practice space, but he's been around enough to know that it isn't abnormal. She seems to like having space to work with, especially with the flashier abilities. After an incident with a fire manipulator in the common room, so the rumors go. And they're working with two flashy powers, so the beach it is.

She's out here in a dress and barefeet again, feet sinking into the sand as she guides him toward the shore.

"So, the plan today. I think we should see how far apart we can get your umbrales to form," she starts, as she always does, in a tone that's used to being listened to, but it softens when she looks back to him to add, "Sound okay?" She's picked a spot further down the beach, with the more familiar stretch out of sight. It might seem like a very deliberate choice before the day's out.

Now that he's been here long enough his secret is revealed. Mateo only has a few pairs of clothes to work with. He washes them often, especially since he has access to a washing machine, but he lived out of one bag. Even a weeks worth of clothes would have taken up far too much space. The things he had the most of aren't readily visible. Socks. Undershirts. That kind of thing. He does not attend to the beach barefoot, though, wearing his same shoes. He's even wearing jeans and a short sleeved shirt— but he's very much used to this weather after a few years in Mexico.

"I think I'll make the far away one first." Because he knows there will be a delay. Once he's sure he doesn't see anyone down the beach at least.

Hopefully it will just bother the fishes and crabs.

"Here we go…" he takes in a breath as he allows that… nothing in the back of his head to sing. It's a song he hates. In the distance, just on the edge of her electrical sense, she'll feel the static getting pulled from the air. It's not much, but it's enough. Enough for a small portal. They will probably need place a battery, or aim for something near a power line, if they want one bigger. The sand starts to get pulled into the gravity, the spiral of sand making the darkness visible. Then his eyes shift and a second one opens, a few feet away from them. That one she feels more easily.

The surface flickers, sparks and then seems to flatten.

The portals stabilize. The sand falls back to the beach in the distance. And he lets out a breath he didn't know he was holding.

Conversely, Lynette's secret seems to be a dress for every day of the month. Or a couple weeks, at least. It's likely that his clothing situation will be rectified at some point, at least to add a few extra pieces into his rotation. But it hasn't yet. Perhaps she was worried he would hate the training and take off. Or… you know, hate other things and take off.

But here, today, she stands next to him, not touching, but close by. She watches the portals form, taking note of how long it took to form the second, how big they are, how far. When they stabilize — or rather, at his exhale — she turns to him with an encouraging smile. "You doing okay? You need a sec?"

Or perhaps Mateo hasn't suggested it because he's actually been so used to living out of a bag he's forgotten how to shop. Or— maybe part of him is constantly ready to leave, for when the emptiness gets too much, gnaws too much at him, tries to devour everything he cares for. "I'm good," he says, but there's strain to his voice, as if it took some energy from him as well. The longer that gap in space is open, the more it calls. The louder it gets. It was only a few seconds, but he could hear it from here.


He tilts his head to the side, looking through it. His portals don't show what's on the other side, just this strange, oily surface, with those sparks of lightning along the edge. "I don't think I can make them any bigger than that. At least not here." She'll know what he means. She felt it. Not enough energy to draw on.

Lynette reaches over to put a hand on his arm at that strain. It's a non-verbal apology, probably for the fact that she's not likely to relent. The hard parts are part of training, but his might just be more difficult than most. "I wasn't thinking bigger, I was thinking further away. I was thinking we might work today on getting you to open one down at our usual spot," way down there, out of sight, "and one here. Or as close as we can manage." He knows the place, so maybe she thinks familiarity will help. "But, you know, a little bit at a time."

She turns more toward him, her head tilting a little. "Does it help when I back you up, you think?"

"So that's why we're so far from our usual spot," Mateo remarks, glancing down that far with a slight squint against the sunlight. It is difficult to at this distance. For the moment, though, he closes his eyes, feels that emptiness— and lets it loose. Or that's what it feels like when he tries to close the portals without anything going through them. The energy flickers, the lightning along the edges flashes. She'll feel it before it happens.

They both dissipate. At the same time. The electricity and static spreading out into the air. It tries to cling to them, but she can flick it.

"You know what we should try, sometime…" he says before he even opens his eyes. "Doing this in a storm."

When his eyes open again, he finds that spot, far in the distance. Somewhere he can barely see. And focuses on it. For a time, nothing seems to happen.

"Well," Lynette says with a crooked smile, "yes. But also the scenery is nice here, too." That's not the reason at all. When she feels the change in the portals, she turns to watch them flash and dissipate. She reaches a hand out to brush away the static, even if she's the only one who knows it's there.

"Oh, don't give me ideas, Mateo. Now we're going to have to do that." But she goes quiet when he focuses. Her hand moves to his shoulder, giving him a squeeze. She doesn't offer him any boost of elecriticty yet, just giving him a chance to see if he can do it.

"It is nice," Mateo responds in a distracted tone, so focused on over there that he's not entirely sure he could compare the area properly. It feels like the gnashing of teeth. Teeth made of nothing. She'll see the tension in his neck, in the way he starts to move is hands, flexing his fingers, opening and closing them. He knows it's right there— He can almost see it.

That spot opens. It's so far she can't even feel the electricity used. They can see the pull. It's stronger. He quickly tries to open the second one— but…

Something goes wrong. Maybe he didn't get the dimensions right, maybe he tried to do it too fast. But the second one blinks to life not ten feet away, and the far away one collapses in on itself. Leaving them with that dragging, gaping maw, barely much bigger than it probably should be. As tall as them.

Pulling up sand, water— and tugging on them.

Lynette tries her best to be supportive while he focuses. She doesn't distract him. Just her hand on his shoulder. She cuts a glance over to him at that tension and she looks uncertain for a moment. She should call it off. She should help him. But before she does anything, she sees the pull starting in the distance. She takes in a breath. And holds it.

At first, she seems relieved when the second one opens, like maybe this wasn't as bad an idea as she thought.

But then, it turns out worse.

Her hold on him turns tight, painfully so, even, as she pulls him back and slips in front of him. It's a problem she has, throwing herself on the grenade. Perhaps especially when the grenade is just going to blow everyone up anyway. So to speak. But she digs her feet in, trying to pull back against the force as much as she can. It feels like forever, but it's probably only moments before she lifts her hands and tries to take the portal's electricity.

It pulls. It devours. Now that she feels it, and hears it, she might understand what he'd been afraid of. At first it sounds like the ocean, where they stand. Then it sounds like the roar of a train. Then she can hear the twisting, gnashing sounding. It's the sand, pulled in, the particles rubbing together, being crushed into each other.

Mateo's trying to grasp it, trying to find something to hold onto. But as she moves between him and it he can't close it down. Because suddenly all he can see is her slipping away.

They're both sliding in the sand slightly, even as he grasps her the same as she grasped him, the sound of him trying to say something lost in that… sound.

As she pulls on the electricity, the field holding it together becomes even more unstable. For a moment, it feels like the whole thing might just expand.

And it seems to. But instead of growing bigger, there's a flash of light, the lightning pulled into the center before flowing toward her hands, followed by a pulse. Of light.

Their ears pop, like sudden air pressure change, before they find themselves pushed backward with enough force to knock them off their feet.

Mateo hits the sand first, but she won't be far behind him. Or atop him.

The sounds coming from the hole make Lynette grit her teeth and pull harder herself. She has a lot of faith in her power, in her instincts. They kept her alive even when she would have preferred them not to. He feels how tense she is under his grasp, he can feel her pushing back against him, as if she might be able to stop him, even as they slide across the sand.

When it expands she starts to shake, bad memories of poor choices echoing through this moment. But then it pulses and she tumbles backward, into him, on top of him, in a rush so fast she can't quite track the action between being upright and not.

Once she's oriented herself, though, she pushes off him and turns to check on him. Her hand moves to his face as she leans over him. "Oh god. Oh god. Mateo, I'm so sorry," she says, words falling out one on top of the other. "Are you okay?" An echo of an earlier question, but with far more panic behind it now.

Mateo doesn't move at first. Unlike her, he can still hear it. It's roaring in the back of his head, like an angry child denied its fun. And as she looks down at him, she'll see that his nose is bleeding. It takes a few blinks before he focuses on her, looking up at her. And that roar quiets. But the heart pounding in his chest doesn't slow. There's a confused look, as if he doesn't understand why she's the one apologizing.

Sitting up, his hand goes to the warmth above his lip. It wasn't the impact that did it.

Breaths unsteady, he looks up at her. "Are you okay?" Her panic is understood. But now he waits for the fear to set in.

"Oh god," she says when she sees the blood, the words on a bit of a repeat at the moment. At least until she can settle herself. Unfortunately, the post-near death experience is a familiar space for her to be in. Not since she came to Mexico, but it's like learning to ride a bike. She reaches to the hem of her skirt, tearing a strip of it off before she uses it to put pressure on, to stop the nose bleed.

"What? Yeah, I'm fine," she says, like she's confused as to why he'd ask. Her free hand props her up in the sand and her head droop for a moment as she takes a few, steadying breaths. "I shouldn't have asked you to do that. I'm sorry," she says again as she looks down at him. The disappointment in her face is for herself. "Did I hurt you?"

The fear he's waiting for doesn't seem to be manifesting.

"I…" Mateo stares at her, still trying to regain his breath, steady his heart, let the adrenaline flow stop. But he does notice that she's not looking at him with fear, not avoiding touching him. Even ripped her lovely dress before he could say anything to stop her. "I'm not hurt," he finally settles on, even as he looks toward the spot of beach— that suddenly has a big hole in it like someone decided to dig up most the sand. The sand is collapsing in to fill it back up.

"This has never happened before," he comments, pointing at his nose. But he doesn't think it means he's hurt.

It just… "I'm just glad it closed."

He's not even sure how that happened. He couldn't concentrate enough to close it. He looks at her. It's louder. It's still louder.

And while she does not have that fear in her eyes, he does. Because he knows exactly what could have happened.

"You overextended your ability," Lynette says, as far as why he has a nosebleed. "It happens. I pushed. My fault, a teacher should always have control of the lesson." She pulls the fabric from his nose, making sure the bleeding has stopped before she tries wiping away the blood.

"Yeah," she says, looking back over at the hole in the sand, "me too. I wasn't sure that was going to work. I panicked." She looks back to him, catching that look in his eyes. Her hand moves to his cheek to try to help settle him. "It's okay. You're okay. You're still here," she says, like a mantra to pull him out of whatever loop is going in his head.

Overextended is possibly a good word. Completely lost control of it is the one he's focusing on, though. Mateo hears that roar, feels it pulling on him, right up until she touches his cheek and starts that small mantra. It causes him to blink, look into her eyes and actually listen. Still here. "You shouldn't have stepped in front of me," he responds after a moment, putting a hand over hers to hold it there.

He leaves out the fact that all he can think about is that if it would have taken him first, at least it would have closed. Surely it would have closed.

But he doesn't completely know if it could take him, either. It never has, even when it probably should have. But he always feels it wanting to.

When he seems to come around, or at least looks her way, Lynette lets the words drop, but her hand stays. She resettles on the sand next to him, getting off her knees and stretching her legs out toward the ocean. When his hand covers hers, she even gets a gentle smile.

"I couldn't help it," she says. Not sorry. No promise not to do similarly next time there's danger. "I just saw it open up and I thought I'd be able to stop it. Plus, I — " She stops there, tilting her head a little. "I didn't want you to get hurt."

"And you did," Mateo has to admit, because he knows he didn't manage to close it. She did. Suddenly he has even more reason to stay near her, because at least there's a failsafe. But at the same time, he knew what could have happened if she failed. "I just don't think I could forgive myself if something happened to you because of me." He's already carrying the burden of the things his ability has done to people. But none of them he considered… well… her.

But he doesn't say that much.

"I'm fine." Except for that roaring in the back of his head. Even with her touch he can still hear it— it's just growing softer, getting further away. "And so are you." He keeps his hand on hers, even as he lowers them both from his face.

"Got lucky," Lynette says dryly. "But at least we know it works. Even if it did nearly toss us into the ocean." She looks over at him, her expression softer. "That wasn't your fault. And like you said, I'm fine." She glances down to their hands and turns hers enough to be able to lace her fingers between his. "Don't get me wrong, that was bracing. And we should really avoid it in the future, at least when it's not on purpose. Although, I would love it if there was never a reason to use it on purpose. I'm aiming for that." She's rambling. "But it's not a bad move to have in your back pocket. In case of an emergency."

Lucky. Potentially very lucky. "It has never devoured me, even when it opens while I'm asleep," Mateo responds, looking into the distance. He always feels the pull of it, both physically and metaphorically, but it never has. "Sometimes I feel like it's alive. And it wants to destroy me, but knows if it does it will never open again." The whole thing would make for a good song, that people wouldn't take literally.

But he does.

"It's always there," he adds, closing his eyes and leaning his head against her shoulder. Even if she can make it quiet, even if he tries to ignore it— it's always there.

"Oh," Lynette says with some surprise as he points out the obvious, "of course. I didn't even think of that." If he wasn't immune to his own power, he would definitely not be alive right now.

A frown tugs at her lips, the explanation of how it feels to him is not a happy one. There's worry in her eyes, sympathy, too. And when leans against her, she wraps an arm around him. "I'm sorry. This is all so hard for you," she says in a whisper. She's quiet for a long moment, her fingers running through his hair in a gently, soothing rhythm. "Have you thought about talking to one of the counselors here? They understand, about being Evolved, about how it can be. I know it's not addiction for you, but that piece of darkness clawing at the back of your mind? Sometimes the front of your mind? They can help you find ways to… cope." She says that last word with a sigh, like it carries something she doesn't want to admit to. Even though he already knows — or at least suspects — what lingers in her mind.

With a soft, humorous laugh, Mateo stays leaning against her shoulder, but seems to nod. She can feel as much as see it. "That's actually not a bad idea. Usually I try to think of a song to drown it out." Or even sing, sometimes. That has worked pretty well. But it's just a distraction, he's not sure if it's actually coping.

"You also seem to work pretty well. Very distracting." That— was him suddenly flirting. Which could be an attempt to deflect from the topic, as well. They're both good at deflection.

Even if he also means it.

And he knows he's doing it, too, so he adds a soft, "I'll talk to one."

"Songs aren't a bad idea, it's… it's knowing what to do after that. That's the tricky part." Lynette lifts an eyebrow when he starts flirting. She knows what that is, but recognition comes with a shakes of her head and an indulgent smirk. Even if he can't see it. She even waits a beat for him to get back around to it.

"That's good. It'll help. And it'll be good for you to have something besides me, unless you want to be stuck with me for the rest of your life." Her tone is joking, of course, perhaps signalling that she's letting him off the hook for the more serious part of this conversation. "That's not normally part of training, you know. Distraction." As she euphemistically puts it.

"Maybe I like being stuck with you," Mateo teases, well aware she was letting him off the hook and the flirting, while it could mean far more, is being taken as a diversion. It could still be, but he won't let it go further than that tease right now. He'd seen the look in her eyes a few times, where part of her wants to run away.

He knows it because he feels it. Especially now that he nearly killed her. If it hadn't been for the fact that she stopped it— he might have been packing his bag tonight to avoid it ever almost happening again.

"And I don't consider our distraction part the training," he includes after a moment, pulling the hand he's still holding up to his mouth and kissing it. "But it's definitely my favorite part of being here." Her, really. But the distraction is part of her.

Lynette gives him a crooked smile at his tease, but it comes with a playful eye roll. Taking it as a joke makes it go over better, as it turns out. Her arm relaxes around him, but doesn't actually leave him. Maybe not until she's sure he's okay. Or maybe she just likes having it there.

"It does seem to get mixed up with it from time to time," she says, teasing in return as she watches him kiss her hand. There might be a bit of a flutter at that; it makes her smile a genuine one. "You know, it might just be mine, too," she says, "might have to try it again to be sure."

From the way he grins against her hand, there was never any doubt that they would try again. At least not as long as both of them stuck around. Mateo presses her hand against his chest, almost as if hugging it, and leans against her side, feeling the warmth of her arm as he looks out toward the ocean. The sound of the waves overpowers that soft sound in the back of his head.

And the distraction helps. "It's mixed up into it because you're the one training me." Just so she knows. It's her. And they both seem to have it as a favorite part— even if he meant her, not… the rest.

"I'm sorry you messed up your dress. I'll have to buy you another one." Even if she seems to have one for every day of the month.

His grin gets one from Lynette, too, and she turns a little to look at the ocean while she gets it under control. It's difficult to hide, though, with him right there. And when he leans against her, she mirrors it, leaning back against him. Her eyes close, letting herself indulge for a moment. Just a moment can't hurt, right?

His words bring her attention back up and her expression turns more serious. But not because she's displeased. Just because it makes her nervous. It kicks up an instinct to pull away, to create some distance.

But his follow up cuts off her thread of panic. She laughs. "Don't be silly. It gave its life nobly."

"Oh, noble dress. Thank you for cleaning my big nose on my handsome face," Mateo says in a teasing voice, letting go of her hand finally so he can set it down on the poor, torn dress that gave it's life to keep him respectable looking. And yes, he's apparently well aware he's a good looking man, even if he knows his nose is a decent size. His mother must have had some of that Argentine Italian blood in her. Or perhaps his unknown father.

"We could always get you back to the building— so you can change." No, there's not at all a hint to his voice. Hinting of distractions. But apparently the strain of his ability use didn't affect his body that much.

A hand comes up to cover Lynette's face as he gives her dress a proper send off. She's chuckling behind it, at least until she drops it to give him a sidelong glance. "Shall we play Taps for it? Fold it up in a nice box?" she teases back, her smile turned crooked. There is no argument about him being handsome. It would be difficult for him to miss that he is, after all.

Lynette tilts her head at his suggestion and her smile turns more sly. "That's probably a good idea. I'm not sure how much longer it'll last," she says and she slips away from his side to stand up and offer him a hand up.

She wouldn't mind giving the dress an improper send off, too.

"We can send it to the great beyond next time we practice," Mateo jokes, even if, well, his holes in space would get rid of it. Maybe it would be a way to measure how close something needed to get to be pulled in. But he doesn't know if they want to train that aspect too much, even if they're prepared for it.

Taking the hand, he gets to his feet once again and looks down at the tear. It could start to unravel if they weren't careful. An improper send off sounded like a good way to go. Or at least a start to its eventual proper send off.

Instead of adding more words, he pulls her closer, into a kiss. One that, thanks to the dress' sacrifice, does not taste like blood.

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