Windows and Doors


hana_icon.gif lynette_icon.gif mateo_icon.gif

Scene Title Windows and Doors
Synopsis Hana continues unraveling the thread of people with interest in the Looking Glass — and learns there might indeed be a way to turn the window into a door.
Date March 30, 2018


The Benchmark is a welcoming place, as one might expect it to be, but Hana gets a bit more of a welcome than most people who come through its doors. She's shown all the way up to the top floor, where the private residences are. So she's told at the front desk. When she gets there, it might have a familiar feel. Dorm-style rooms and a small, but self-sufficient common area that includes kitchen, dining, entertainment… it invokes the old days of safehouses and safe keeping. For all that it isn't needed these days, it seems Lynette hasn't shaken the habit.

The woman is in the common room, pouring coffee into a mismatched trio of mugs. Dressed well, she looks like she just came from the office herself. Dressing well was one of those things that was a challenge for Lynette to give up when they all had to give up everything. The first chance she got, she went back to it. The doors to the room stand open, the smell of that coffee doing more to point the way than any directions Hana was given.

Among the room that smells of coffee sits and older man, looking through a large book that’s laid out on a table, with little tags sticking out between pages for reference. Mateo’s been studying for the exam that would allow him to get a proper job within the state, assuming he passes. Electrical Engineering requires more than a few hoops, and his degree from an Argentine University wouldn’t cut it, even if they could have located all the paperwork. With the situation down in the southern hemisphere, that had proved a daunting task, but if he could pass the test…

He’s not dressed as nicely as the woman he married, simple, warm clothes, functional, with an eye catching sweater. Not his favorite, but the blue designs would certainly gain an eye or two. Not that he seems to be thinking about that as he fingers through the pages of the book, trying to find an obscure reference involving series circuits.

Memory is a funny thing. Walking into the Benchmark, seeing glimpses of offices past the smartly designed yet distinctly functional waiting area… for all that it's been years, decades, Hana is momentarily transported back to a different office, in a different country, that belonged to a different lifetime. Her expression is inscrutable, closed as she follows the directions given, and then the scent of coffee, to a room that categorically doesn't belong in any psychiatric center of Hana's acquaintance. But then, her familiarity is limited, deliberately so.

The major's sense of style hasn't changed since their Ferry days: black pants, white shirt, black leather jacket insulating against the brisk spring air outside. The wolf's-head cane is a newer addition, necessary because her visits to the Safe Zone almost always manage to involve a good deal of walking. As she steps into the common area, her gaze skips off its two inhabitants and briefly surveys the room entire, taking in the environment before returning to Lynette. Hana can't be said to look quite at ease despite the ambiance of the space, but then, she is here with a distinct purpose.

Moving farther into the room, the better to join the woman with the coffee — the woman she has questions for — Hana inclines her head to Lynette. Also to Mateo, should he happen to look up from his studies. "I appreciate you making the time to see me," she says, by way of opening dialogue.

Lynette looks up, a smile ready for Hana that turns more genuine when she actually looks at her. Somethings, they don't change. The cane makes that expression dim some, not for Hana having it, but for the last woman she knew it to belong to. A woman that Lynette has long had mixed feelings about. "It was no trouble," she says, and that's the truth. She's the boss, after all, she sets her own schedule. "Coffee?"

She obviously assumed the answer would be yes.

"Pick a seat, make yourself at home," she says before she picks up the coffees. She comes to Mateo first, setting his mug down on the table. And also to make sure she gets his attention.

"Mateo, this is Hana Gitelman," she says far too casually for the woman's reputation, really. "Hana, this is Mateo Ruiz." She doesn't add that they're married. She probably assumes the woman already knows. Even if she didn't, the rings are telling enough. As is the warm smile when she says his name— it isn't an expression she ever carried before.

At the arrival, Mateo glances up, still distracted at his work, but not enough to ignore a visitor. There’s an apologetic glance toward Lynette as he picks up the book and closes it, leaving the marked pages as they are for the moment. She probably had told him to put it away once or twice, but he hadn’t seen the one book as an issue. It wasn’t like he had folders spread everywhere.

“It’s nice to meet you— “ His words fade for a moment when he glances at the wolfhead cane, but then continues as his eyes return back to her face. “Let me put this away.” He sounds hesitant, as if unsure how exactly to address her. Ms? He’s not as familiar as Lynette, so Hana seemed out of place.

Hana nods to the offer of coffee, seating herself at the table, setting the cane aside for the time being. The glances at her cane pass without comment, but not beneath notice. A deeper nod is given to Mateo at the introduction, although for her part, Hana skips further social formulae. She also fails to be perturbed by Mateo's seeming uncertainty, and waits with no evident discontent while he sees to his self-assigned task.

"I met with Eve Mas the other day," Hana begins, once the people and coffee and book have been settled into their respective places. Her tone is conversational, though not quite light; she pays as much apparent regard to the coffee she's been given as to the others in the room, but even then, Hana is not one to beat around the bush. "She wanted to discuss — someone of interest to Wolfhound. She also mentioned that she, Lady Zeus, and Otter Eyes were investigating the 'Looking Glass'," she adds, giving a significant look towards the people so called.

Hana pauses for a sip from her mug. "Getting a coherent narrative from Mas is — difficult," she says, a studied understatement. Dark eyes fix on Lynette: now we come to the point. "So I will ask you: What is your interest in the Looking Glass project?"

The mention of Eve gets Lynette's attention, in the way a mother might upon hearing the name of a troublesome child. Indulgent and resigned. "You'd think she would remember our names by now," she notes, dryly. She doesn't seem worried, though, even when Hana brings them right to the point.

"Something akin to taking a sledgehammer to it. I'm flexible on the method. But my interest is in making sure no one uses it. And to destroy any records on how it was created in the first place." Her intent is spoken without ire or even contempt. It comes from the urge to protect, rather than revenge or desire. "Eve showed me some paintings, people from other timelines trying to get out. Which is all well and good, but it's an Institute project, without a doubt, and I highly doubt they created it to rescue people from their lot in life."

Call it a hunch.

“She dreamed I was an Otter once and she won’t stop calling me that,” Mateo responds as he returns, without the book, having placed it on a shelf and moving to sit down while shaking his head at, well— Otter Eyes. It had been amusing the first dozen times, but with other people bringing it up— He glances toward Lynette, as she explains her reasoning, hesitating a little because— well— there had been much more going on that could be mentioned. Like the other otters. But he doesn’t feel that part is his place, exactly.

“I saw the paintings, too.” He hadn’t recognized some of them, but he had recognized himself. “This was the one dream she didn’t see me as an otter,” he adds as an aside, not even thinking about it.

"Oh, never doubt she remembers," Hana says, equally dry. She nods to Lynette. "An Institute project," the technopath confirms, "and Company before them." Thus doubly negative. She lingers over her coffee a moment, discreetly watching Mateo in the periphery of her view.

"So far as I'm aware," Hana remarks, glancing down to the liquid in her cup, "it observes. Not something you'd expect to rescue people at all." She takes a sip, then looks over to Mateo, expression inquiring. "And yet Eve seems to think it key to saving… you? another you?" There's part of that non-coherent narrative showing. Dark eyes flick to Lynette, expectant, linking her with the desire to save.

Not that Hana has any issue with that desire. She merely intends to keep unraveling this thread, even if she has to do it one bit-part question at a time.

“That is— how I know it’s an Institute project,” Lynette notes, when Eve’s odd narrative starts to come out. “When we went to the Arcology, I met him,” she says with a gesture to Mateo, “but it was a version of him from another timeline. We think.” Think, but she sounds sure. She’s just leaving room for the possibility that she’s wrong. “His ability… I think they were studying it. I think it would turn the glass into a door, if they had time to work it out.”

She glances over at Mateo, her head tilting a little. If he wants to explain what it is, he can. She isn’t getting that specific, though.

“Eve has seen other versions of him, from other timelines— assuming all of this is being interpreted correctly— some dying, some lost. She think we might be able to save the lost ones. Which I am agreeable to, but not with some machine we don’t understand from an organization we can’t trust.” She pauses, letting out a soft sigh before she refocuses on their visitor. “Hana. This is important to me. I don’t want to step on Wolfhound’s toes, but I need to make sure the Looking Glass isn’t going to hurt anyone.” By anyone she might have a specific someone in mind, but she’s aware that Mateo can’t be the only one they would use if they could.

Institute, and the Company before them. Mateo casts a glance toward Lynette, a hint of worry in the way his eyebrows are furrowed before he nods. It isn’t really a surprise. Considering. “Eve didn’t meet the other me, but she dreamed of me during the war, came all the way down to Mexico to meet me, to…” He trails off. There’d been more to the dream than just meeting an otter and drinking tequila on the beach. He didn’t know for sure, but he’s pretty sure she stopped him from hurting people. Possibly himself. He’d been in a bad place.

“We know it hadn’t been me in the— Arcology— because that me had been shot. Multiple times. Saving her,” he nods toward Lynette. It wasn’t his story to tell, but— in a way it was. “She said he recognized her, but she didn’t recognize him. And then a few years later we meet and— well. Here we are.” He gives her a small smile across the distance. Sentimental, but— he would always be grateful for his other self. For saving her.

Even if he wondered a lot about who he had been and what had made them different. “Did Eve show you the painting? Of… me?” That’s the only one he’d even seen, but… It might be important. He might be wary of certain things, but he knows of this woman’s reputation and Lynette trusts her, so he’s hoping that she will help.

Timelines. Hana nods slowly, sipping her coffee in silence, her gaze going from one to the other as they speak. At the end, she nods again to Lynette, more definitely; acknowledgment, affirmation, but also calling for a moment's abeyance. She looks to Mateo, responds to his words first. "She showed me her painting of Erica Kravid," Hana replies, "which had obvious relevance to Wolfhound. She said very little about you, and I didn't press — not when I intended to come here anyway."

Her gaze flicks to Lynette. "Kravid supervised the Looking Glass project for the Institute. Any information on its actual function, she likely has." Implicitly: Hana herself does not. The major allows herself a grimace, looking down at the mug wrapped in her hands. "More doors are not things we need," she asserts, closing her eyes and huffing out a breath. "Look what happened just so the Institute could try to send a message."

Everything. Too much. Moving people

Hana lets that thought hang a moment, then moves on, looking to Mateo again. "Will you tell me?"

"I kept that one," Lynette says to Mateo. Because that particular painting she feels a touch of possession over. "Unless she repainted it." Which is always a possibility, but she obviously doesn't think it likely in this case. As for the story about the other Ruiz, she seems to think his telling is good enough, because all she adds is a nod.

But her attention turns back to Hana and she sips her coffee as she listens. "I agree. We don't need a repeat of Alaska. Or something worse. I can't say I know much about Kravid, but I think it would be best if that organization not get a second chance at something like that. I'm not sure why they would want to open a path to another here, but I think we can assume that resources are at least a factor." Probably she means resources of the test subject variety. Whole worlds of people. Worlds of abilities.

The question Hana poses to Mateo draws Lynette's attention that way. Her hand comes to his shoulder to give him a reassuring squeeze.

“I guess that means she couldn’t have shown you,” Mateo offers as he runs a hand through his curly hair and stands back up. “We don’t know if the other… me was here because of the Looking Glass, thing, he might have been here because… My ability. I’m registered as being able to make portals, which I can. But there could be more to it than that. I don’t really know…” Well, he knows there’s one aspect to it he left out of his registration file. “As far as I know I’ve never travelled between worlds, but…”

Another him has. And another him might. “It may have nothing at all to do with Looking Glass, but it could be why the Institute had been holding the… other me.” Talking about the other him had always been difficult, he could hear that wind in the back of his head, that hint of something pulling on him, but he ignored it as he moved toward the bedroom with a, “I think the painting is in the closet.”

He’ll leave them alone a moment while he goes to find it, because seeing it might be easier than explaining it.

Mateo's explanation receives a nod, and thoughtful interest. Portals, the potential to connect branched timelines. She lingers over a sip of coffee as he withdraws in pursuit of the painting, then returns her regard to Lynette.

"I hesitate to speculate why they want anything," Hana remarks. "Resources, perhaps. An exit strategy. Or maybe it's just her personal obsession." Not much traction to be had there, as motives go; their information is simply too sparse.

"The Looking Glass," she continues, building upon prior statements, "was originally meant to view past and, possibly, future events. Not that that isn't problematic enough in its own right." In this company, that reasoning needs no elaboration. Hana pauses for another drink of coffee, then gives Lynette an inquiring look that seems far more casual than it actually is.

"On which note. Eve also mentioned a time manipulator and 'traveler', someone she referred to as Dorothy." Given the precognitive's habits, Hana is not about to presume that's her actual name. "What can you tell me about her?"

"I suppose you're right. Why isn't as important as the simple fact that they're doing it at all." Lynette watches Mateo go, her head tilted like she might be worried about something. But she doesn't voice it. Or she dismisses it as her own general paranoia which often kicks her into worry when it shouldn't.

She looks back to Hana after a moment, and sighs a little. In agreement. Knowledge in the wrong hands is bad enough. She leans a hip against the back of the couch. Eve's continued explanation has her lifting an eyebrow. "Dorothy? Good lord." She hasn't heard that particular nickname before, but it causes her to rub at the bridge of her nose.

It doesn't take a lot to guess who that would mean.

"Eve has a friend, someone else interested in the Looking Glass. From what I gather, she's scared. Of them finding her. Time manipulation?" That is new information, too. Her head tilts back so she can look up at the ceiling. Like she might find all the answers up there. She does not, of course. So she looks back to Hana. "I suppose I can see why she would worry." There's a glance toward the door, checking to make sure Mateo hasn't returned before she goes on. "If I have my way, none of them will ever see it. Even if it is just a window. Seeing the future? The past? I don't want anyone getting the idea that they should turn it on instead of getting rid of it."

When Mateo returns, he’s holding a rolled up canvas, which he spreads out on the table, putting down some paper weights to keep it from rolling up again. Though not the coffee. If they knew how much an Eve Mas went for, they would probably not leave it laying around in a closet, but…

The painting shows a destroyed landscape, Manhattan. Deteriorating with age, but not as destroyed as their current one. The rooftop looks familiar, one that is featured in many other prophetic paintings of the past. The Deveaux building. There’s one figure, recognizable through body shape, hair, curve of chin, dark eyes and nose all prominent identifiers. Behind him is a black swirling abyss, hints of lightning along the edges— and he seems to be stepping back into it.

“I don’t know what the rest of her paintings showed, but that’s— a reasonable depiction of my ability.” ‘Reasonable’. Yes. Not the one that he tends to walk into though, certainly. He has no comment on the Dorothy, though, but he’d missed part of that conversation too, when he went to dig up the painting.

The biggest difference between him and the painting him would be the hair, slightly longer and curlier, and the unshavenness of his face. But the big difference is in the coloration. The man in front of Hana has gray salting his hair, offsetting the dark— the one in the painting does not. As well as a dark beard that’s started to grow.

Hana inclines her head to Lynette, in perfect agreement with her final statements. The preceding ones, she mulls over as Mateo returns, holding her thoughts and focusing on what he has to share. She stands so as to get a better perspective on the whole of it, bracing her hands on the table and leaning slightly forward, mindful of the coffee. "Portals," she murmurs. "I see." Also —

"Mas painted this during the war?" she checks. For obvious reasons.

Sitting down again, Hana folds her hands around her mug, leaning back and holding it before her. It's her turn to regard the ceiling, or at least the upper wall across from her, gaze distant and expression contemplative. "So," she says at last, "we have a device that peers through time, an ability that possibly spans branched worlds, a person from the Institute who dealt with exactly those things— " Her gaze drops to Lynette, eyes dark, just slightly narrowed with consideration. "— and a time manipulator who's also interested."

Why no, she's not done harrying that particular thread just yet. More the opposite: nothing Hana's heard makes her feel better about this 'Dorothy's' involvement.

"Is there anything else I should be aware of, Lynette?"

"This one she painted more recently. There were three others, different people, different backgrounds. No portals, obviously." Lynette tilts her head a little, regarding the painting for a quiet moment. "From what she said at the time, the Mateo in the painting isn't this Mateo." Her Mateo. "But another getting lost between timelines." The idea of it troubles her, which is clear on her face, although the reasons why are conflicting enough that she doesn't try to explain it to anyone here. Maybe not until she can work it out herself.

"That's about the size of it," she says to Hana's summary. "Plus the precognitive who seems to be getting visions across the branching worlds. And the possibly overprotective electrokinetic." Only possibly. She's not convinced she shouldn't be more protective.

The last question gets her attention, though. Lynette lifts an eyebrow and regards the other woman for a long moment.

"If I could pose a question," she says as she sets her mug down on a side table. "Your organization. How do you deal with the people we ran into there— in the Arcology and places like it— who were working there but didn't know the whole picture? Or did, but were under duress. I remember a time when the Ferry was keeping Bella Sheridan safe." That name comes with a tone that remains unfriendly even years later. Maybe even less now than then. "I don't know where this particular trail is going to lead all of us, but I know there were plenty of complicated messes the Institute was juggling and I can't imagine that's changed now. What do we do with them, when we find them?"

She has little doubt they've stopped taking people they see as useful. Maybe even moreso now with the nation in shreds and their own position more precarious.

“I think it was more recent, but her first dream about me had happened during the war, I think.” Or at least that’s the first one Mateo had been made aware of, a dream of an otter in a blue shirt sipping tequila on the beach. It had sounded rather insane the first time he heard it, and now it sounds just as insane. Otters don’t wear shirts or drink,and he’s definitely not an otter. Nor does he have any idea why she saw him as such. The otters in the river made more sense than the otters on the beach.

“If we run into another me wandering around, we can certainly contact you, but— “ He wonders if with her resources she would find out before they would. What little he knows about the woman makes him picture her as half military leader, half hacktivist. The other him would have to show up at their doorstep for them to find him first, probably.

Lynette’s question, though, makes him glance at her, a hint of confusion and curiosity, but then he nods and sits down with his coffee and waits for a response.

Hana glances to Mateo and nods, but it's Lynette's silence that catches and holds her attention, the major regarding her with quiescent curiosity. She can wait however long is needed for Lynette to decide how to respond.

If I could is met with a permissive gesture. And when Lynette finishes speaking, Hana also sets her coffee cup aside. This, now, is too serious a subject to be clouded with irrelevant props.

"Wolfhound's role," the major replies, regarding Lynette levelly, "is to bring fugitives in so that the law can do its job. Nothing more — and nothing less." She sits back in her chair, posture square, hands resting lightly in her lap. "If someone from the Institute is wanted for crimes? It is my responsibility to deliver them to trial. It is not my judgment they must face." Which, all things considered, is probably to the benefit of the person in question.

"I have," Hana remarks, "occasionally added my own voice to the proceedings, for or against. But the resolution is for the court to decide."

"For those not wanted?" she continues, raising a hand, palm-up, and flicking it sideways in a vaguely tossing motion. "Ultimately, Wolfhound is not a police agency; we are not law-enforcement officials, and we are not vested with their authority. We can, perhaps, turn someone over to SESA in much the same way anyone may make a citizen's arrest, but unless they are collateral from netting a fugitive, that becomes a very gray area, very quickly."

"Sounds like a tricky line to walk," Lynette says with a bit of a frown. It wasn't much of a secret around the Ferry that she'd been a victim— as much as it wasn't a secret that she hated that she had been— even if her husband seems a bit confused about her curiosity. "I take it the law would frown on a bit of vigilantism." That is a joke. Mostly. There's a crooked smile, at the very least. "Citizen's arrest, though, that's something to keep in mind." Because she doesn't plan on sitting on the bench for any of this, clearly.

A hand moves to slide through her hair as she glances toward the painting. "I think," she says carefully, nervously, "that Richard Ray might have some interest in it. The Looking Glass, I mean. I am… hesitant to involve him myself." She looks over at Hana, her arms folding to keep her fingers from twitching. This is one of those moments where, in the past, she would have a drink in hand. Or at least a cigarette. "He was a bit curious about Mateo's ability. It didn't sit well with me. All things considered. But, knowing the man and his… habits, he might know something. Of course, this could just be my paranoia talking— " as her therapist is always telling her— "so you'll have to forgive me if it's a dead end."

Lynette does not think it's a dead end. However. She does seem to be making a habit of second guessing things she's sure of.

While he’d been unsure why his wife would ask about this particular thing— or at least he had thoughts that were unclear on it, Mateo nods as she gets her answer and jokes about Citizen arrest. He knows that she had been through some rough times with the Institute, not just including that time when one of him got shot saving her. But that too. “If the Institute had one of me, they might be interested in having me again, too. This is the first time I’ve been anywhere near this area— anywhere north of… Texas probably in my entire life.”

He hesitates as if he’s not entirely sure that statement is accurate, but he feels like it should be. “I definitely don’t want any of them poking around here, if there’s any left.” Not that he thought Richard Ray would be involved. Now that he’s here, using his own name and not trying to hide too much, it’s a sudden worry he hadn’t thought much about until— well— now. Now that he knows some of them are still out there and maybe a project that could be vaguely connected to his ability has resurfaced.

"It is," Hana affirms. The quip about vigilantism is met with a flat look, a heavy dose of obviously tinged with a hint of what might approach regret. The major was herself a vigilante long before she was a major, after all.

Her gaze goes to Mateo, and the woman nods. "They might. Although Kravid was in the San Francisco branch, and your counterpart was taken to the Arcology." That physical disjunction may be significant — or it may not. There's simply no way for them to know.

Hana looks back to Lynette as she resumes speaking; her head tilts thoughtfully, and she mulls over the suggestion for a moment. "That is true," she says at last, "Ray likely knows something. The man's besetting sin is curiosity," she remarks, tone dry. Pensivity lingers in her eyes afterwards, some other thought rising for consideration but not shared with present company.

Finally, Hana shakes her musings off. "I doubt talking to him will be a dead end, or even an end at all," she says, a whisper of acerbic humor inflecting the words. Indeed, with the breadcrumbs she now has in tentative association, Hana's suspicions run in virtually the very opposite direction. But those, too, are not of concern to present company.

Rising to her feet, Hana looks down to the painting; she reaches out, lightly resting two fingers on its surface. "Curious, that Mas painted this recently, but it looks — older." Nothing they haven't observed themselves, of course. "Last I checked, she saw the future."

It's not a question. Just another mystery in the pile.

"They won't come here," Lynette says, her voice quiet but firm. They might try, is the implication in her tone, but they won't succeed. If that tone is a face she's putting on, it's for Mateo's benefit, rather than Hana's. "We also don't know how much they actually knew about the other's power. Or how it may or may not have differed from yours. But. There is a reason that questions about your ability put me on edge a bit."

Her gaze shifts back to Hana, nodding to her thoughts about Richard Ray and his tendencies. She agrees, but seems to think Hana will have better luck down that path than she would.

The painting, too, gets a look. The mystery presented. When her attention shifts back to Hana, it's with a wry sort of look. "Last I checked, too. Who knows what the rules are when it comes to branching times. If there are any at all." Which is to say, she isn't sure there is a solution to this particular mystery. But. She's likely to go looking for it anyway.

The future, not the past. “Maybe it took the river a while to catch up,” Mateo half jokes in response to the different rivers and different otters touching the precog. “Or perhaps it means something else entirely, and this is just how she sees it. We first met in… two thousand twelve, I think? The war had still been going on. She said her dream about the other otters had been not too long after that, too.” Though they’d only heard about it last year. “Who knows, though. Maybe in a year we’ll look back and go ‘oh’.”

Cause that’s how he feels about it. Hopefully the whole thing will stay away from him, even if he kind of does want to know what happened to the others, and why Eve keeps dreaming about him. There’s many questions he wants answers to. Some he’s not sure anyone could answer.

But he knows they will try to find it, anyway. One way or another.

"Oh, there are rules," Hana asserts. If nothing else, physics still applies. Evolved abilities may break physics in many cases, but the world itself still runs on fundamental principles.

She studies the painting for a moment longer, then nods separately to Lynette and Mateo. "Thank you both," Hana says. "You've been very helpful."

Then the major collects her cane and makes her way back out of the building, deep in thought all the while. She has a list to put together — and a certain CEO to speak to, soon.

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