ff_des_icon.gif bf_lynette_icon4.gif vf_ruiz_icon4.gif ff_woods_icon.gif

Scene Title Brother
Synopsis Wishes rarely come true in the expected way.
Date November 25, 2018

Far from the noise of the largest trading hubs in the Pelago, where the Featherweight is docked, floors below where the Church of the Ascension is holding their nightly dinner, there are warrens of residences and storage spaces. Small homes made out of spaces that were once corporate offices, bathrooms, and janitor’s closets. The residents in these tightly-packed quarters do the best with what they can, stringing up Christmas lights for the holidays, decorating with colorful paper ornaments and plastic-coated wire garland. To the survivors of the Shanti virus, this looks hauntingly familiar.

Captain Woods cuts a slim silhouette down these darkened halls, lit by Christmas lights and lanterns. His oversized winter parka makes him look bigger than he is, but unzipped and left open it shows his matchstick thin body all too clearly.

“Not far now,” Woods says quietly, respectful of the nearly personal space of a ten-by-ten living area with a tarp for a door. He jerks his head to the side and steps down an adjoining corridor, moving past more converted offices-come-bedrooms and into a narrow hallway that leads to a partially collapsed floor. Here, the ceiling has fallen down into the hallway, creating an abrupt terminus without any other means of access or exit.

At the end of this hall, candles have been set up atop the melted wax of many years. Photographs line the three walls of this space, a memorial all too eerily familiar to Mateo. The Hub had something similar, though this one lacks the baskets of shoes so macabrely shared with the living. Instead, there is just a tiny blonde woman kneeling in front of a newly-placed candle. She is slim, short-haired and youthful even before she turns around to reveal a face both familiar and unfamiliar as once.

“Destiny,” Woods says with a raise of his brows. “We uh…” he steps out of the way to reveal Mateo and Lynette. “We need t’talk.”

Behind Des is a photograph of Mateo, taped to the wall. Memorialized.

The Wall of the Lost

The Pelago

November 25th

8:03 pm

“Sshh! Just a second, Jimmy.” That blonde head only turns a fraction and recognizes his boots, matching them to the sound of his voice rather than looking up to his face for confirmation. The extra pairs of shoes behind him aren’t even registered. “I’m praying.

Turning back to the wall and clearing her throat, Des begins her hushed prayer. “Dear God — or, uh, Goddess? However you prefer to be addressed — O Supreme Being… I’m not very good at this. Else tried to teach me once, but I can’t remember the words. They sound pretty when she says them.” The teenager sighs gently and continues. “I’m trying real hard. The preacher says if I pray to you and that if I’m good, my prayers will be answered. And I’m trying to be real good. You see, my brother’s missing…” Her voice hitches, mouth quivering as it’s been pressed into a thin line. “And I’ve been trying to find him. I thought if I— If I just looked hard enough, and wished enough, I’d find him. Like maybe he was hiding and he’d only come out for me.”

Slender hands unclasp so she can reach out and touch the photo on the wall above her. “But he’s not there. Please, please, please, give him back to me,” she whimpers. “A- Amen.”

That she’s looking for him doesn’t surprise him. Part of him feels even worse approaching not too far behind Woods when he spots it, but that falls away rather quickly as he sees her. He had never known his Odessa at that age, but he can see her in the face, in the way she moves, in the quiver of her mouth. And the voice. Voices don’t age the same as bodies, though sometimes they deepen over time. Prayer was surprising, but it reminded him of his mother in a way. But so much else…

What happened to her? he wants to ask, but instead what he says outloud is “Destiny?

Her name was Destiny? Had she never been with the Company, raised in a basement surrounded by scientists and named after the city they had kept her in? Had…

Lynette would notice many of the signs of stress over his features, the way his hands shift and flex. And only the relatively high humidity keeps his hair from frizzing and his hands from sparking. Only those long lessons under the tutelage of her double in the previous world allowed him to push the electricity deeper, so that if someone touched him they wouldn’t get thrown across the room.

Destiny?” he asks again, a little louder. At first it had been confused and amazed, now it sounded like he was attempting to get her attention. After all. Voices don’t really change that much. And while much of him is different, the voice is the same.

Lynette walks at the back of the group, holding Evie's hand as they make their way through this rather depressing path. She comes to a stop next to Ruiz, looking over at Des with a blank expression. She's young— sounds even younger— and Lynette is stuck on how to process that. Eve is too old, Odessa too young.

Luckily, she tunes into that stress from her husband. A lot easier to focus on him than to try to handle this. And whatever this means for their Odessa. Her hand moves to his, gripping onto him and giving him an anchor. She doesn't know what to say, but she can be there.

Evie is the one who comes forward, letting go of her mother to come jump onto Destiny's back in a warm, clumsy hug. "Tiacita," the girl says in a singsong voice. She seems to accept this other Des far easier than either of her parents. "Turn around."

Woods is griefstricken. It’s the best way to describe what he’s feeling. Somewhere deep down inside there’s joy, after a fashion, but most of it is a painful grief for the friend he lost and the brother Destiny had taken from her. This changeling dropped off on their doorstep is a simulacrum of the person they knew, and the truth of that is what twists the knife in Woods’ stomach. He can’t explain things to her, he lacks not only the vocabulary but also the understanding of the matter.

Instead of talking, Woods just wipes the tears from his eyes as he watches their simulacrum of a reunion.

There’s a voice that’s familiar even after all this time, and little hands on her shoulders that are less familiar, but it all pulls her into the moment. There’s a startled gasp and a quick blink of her teary eyes. Destiny lifts her head skyward and whispers a thank you before she turns around on her knees, staring up at the little gathering.

“Mateo!” Des rests her hands on Evie’s shoulders and looks at the little girl’s face. One hand comes up to smooth her hair as she stares in wonder. “Tiacita?” She looks from the girl to her parents and then back again. “Oh, look at you.

Up to her feet she climbs, wrapping Evie up to go with her, resting her on her hip. “You had a baby?” Tears continue to shine in her eyes, well up and fall. “I mean, not you, obviously. You just… y’know.” She makes a face that says the idea of actually making a baby is kind of gross, but the end result is cute enough that it can be overlooked for now. “Oh my heck. Is that Lynette?” She turns her attention to the other blonde and repeats her question. “Are you Lynette?” It’s rude to talk about someone like they aren’t standing right the heck there. Gosh.

Des cuddles Evie tightly as a little sob escapes her again. “I knew you’d find me. I knew that if anyone could find me at the end of the world, it’d be you, Tete.”

When she’d been turned around, Ruiz had dismissed the hint of youth as an illusion, but when she turns, when she touches little Evie, when she approaches closer and closer. That breath catches in his throat. How? he wanted to ask, but the word didn’t quite make it out. If Woods heart was breaking a little, he felt it too. He knew just looking at her how much he had meant to her.

He wished he were him. But he’s not sure what happened to him at all. Except… The Des from the other world, the one who had switched with herself, had mentioned meeting him twice. “I’m sorry,” he murmurs an apology. Yes, that voice is the same. But different, too. The accent was slightly different, as if this one had spent much more time south of the border than her brother ever had, though he still spoke English, with little noticeable accent, even then. It was only noticeable to someone who had spent years with him.

“But yes— This is Lynette, and Evie is ours. We actually have two children, but Manuel… Isn’t here.” The boy may not have been his technically, but he was as much his as Evie was still. “I’ll explain everything but… I’m not really your… Tete. Not exactly. I’m from another… The other side of the sky, I guess you could say.”

The question about breaks her heart. Are you Lynette. She has to look away while her family greets the young woman, so she can have a moment to hold it together.

"We're going to find him," Evie says with a firm expression. The mention of her brother always gets her a little more grim than a little girl should be— features mimicking her mother's and father's when they talk about him. They tell her stories, memories, so she won't forget him. She looks up at Ruiz when he tries to explain, then back to Des to put her hands on the teen's cheeks. And smoosh.

She's heard this a lot lately.

Lynette comes forward then, putting a hand on Evie's shoulder to signal her to let go of Destiny's face. It's a gentle nudge, but it does the trick. "Don't you… know? Already? About the other worlds…" She'd been hoping that was the case. Betting on it. That she doesn't seem to know her dashes away a bit of that hope.

Fidgeting at the back of the room, Woods chews on the thumbnail of his right hand. Blue eyes scan Mateo and Lynette, then avert down to the children in brief. He doesn't speak for Destiny, but he's heard enough strange things in the last few days — especially the last few hours — to not be surprised by much of anything.

Watching the reunion, Woods finally settles on staring at his feet. He's quiet, timidly so, but it's clear something is on his mind. As his eyes track from side to side, his brow knits in worry over something unsaid.

The happiness drains from Destiny’s squished up face slowly. The tears remain, taking on the tenor they had during her prayer. “You’re from the other side of the Looking Glass,” she surmises once Evie stops pushing on her cheeks.

They may not have came from the device - it’s just a radio, after all - but the broadcasts gave enough foundation for the existence of other worlds different from the one she calls home. Other worlds where her brother hadn’t disappeared. Or worlds he had disappeared to.

“Yes,” she says to Lynette with a small nod of her head. “I know. I just hoped…” Des adjusts Evie in her arms so she can free up one hand to wipe at the tears on her face. She puts on a smile after that. “It’s nice to meet you both. I’m Destiny Ruiz.” A faint wince. “But you already knew that.”

No. Actually. He did not know her by that name. Ever.

Ruiz does his best to hide his shock at it, but he’s failing miserably. All of a sudden there’s a snap of electricity as a spark jumps from one finger to another in his right hand. It definitely pulls him out of it as he shakes the hand, as if that would disperse things. He had been doing so well, too. “Well, the other side of a portal technically, but yeah.” He didn’t like mentions of the Looking Glass, after certain things. “But I actually… your name is Destiny.” It’s half statement, half question. “And you use my last name…”

It’s amazing to him, really, as he looks over at her again. “How are you so… young?”

Now he really did need to warn Woods about the other woman, though he might leave out the fact that he had been married to her in that life. “You don’t look a day over— what, eighteen?” He hadn’t even known her at eighteen.

“You’ve always been younger than me but surely not that much.”

“I’m sorry,” Lynette says to Des, because they aren’t who she wished they were. And now she has to settle for a more complicated version of her brother and his family. She looks back at Ruiz at the sparks and she moves over to put a soothing hand on his back. “It’s hard,” she says, still to Des, “to miss someone like that.”

All the Ruizes know that pain. Not even this young woman has been spared it.

“We have— another you traveling with us. She’s not so young as you.” She glances back at Woods, not sure if she should mention the marriage, either. So she turns back to Destiny again. “She goes by Odessa.”

Another what?” Woods practically barks, too loud and too sharp not to have been a nervous exclamation. Realizing he basically threw that question up in a fit of anxiety, he focused an embarrassed and wide-eyed stare on Lynette. Then, exhaling a shuddering sigh he just scrubs one hand down his face and looks down to the ground.

“Nope, nope, sorry. Sorry I'm fine. I'm bloody fine.” Looking over to Destiny, Woods’ brows furrow. “Y’don’t have t’answer any of these questions if y’don’t want to, Des.” Woods flicks a mildly apologetic look to Mateo, then looks back to Lynette. He looks at her in the way someone might a blurry photo of Sasquatch, looking for inconsistencies or a seam to imply that she's not what she appears to be. But she is.

Des exchanges a look with Woods that’s some combination of nervous and questioning. She gives him a small nod when he tells her she doesn’t have to answer anything she doesn’t want to. Now, she looks at the multiverse versions of her family with uncertainty, but not distrust. “Seventeen and three-quarters,” she clarifies about her age, adding defensively, “I’m exactly as old as I should be.”

Setting Evie back down with a kiss to her forehead, she moves to Woods’ side, nudging him gently with her shoulder until he slips an arm around. She’s a bit like a baby bird hiding under its parent’s wing. “Can I meet her?” she asks quietly. While she’s asking the others if it’s okay, she glances up to Woods for the ultimate approval. “Please?”

“I was going to tell you earlier,” Ruiz admits, casting Woods a quick look. Would the man want to know the rest? Well he’s sure it will come up, but that would probably make things for him very awkward. He could just imagine. Because, well. His wife from another world just happened to be there and she just happens to be an older version of someone who seemed to be his ward.

That would be awkward for just about anyone. Just as this is strange for him, too. “Seventeen and three-quarters,” he repeats almost as if he doesn’t quite believe it. How could the world be so different. He glances toward her wrist as if to see if she’s wearing a watch like he is, “If you want to meet her, I’m sure she’d like to as well. You might be able to answer some questions for her.” Because no doubt she has a lot of questions.

Was Destiny the name her missing mother had given her? Had her life really gone as she had been told? No, he imagined they both had a lot of questions. “Did we play the piano together, the two of us?” Were some things the same, at least?

That had been one of the ways they had found each other.

Lynette looks over at Woods, even as Evie comes over to take her hand. "I know it's strange. We're a bunch of ghosts. You're one for us, too. I wish I could tell you it gets easier to swallow…" But it doesn't. She glances to Ruiz, because there is something else looming over the conversation. "That isn't the end of it, James," she says, but she doesn't explain. Not here. In front of the young girl. Luckily for all of them, Evie was too young to remember her Uncle James properly or the awkwardness would be out there already.

"We'll need to ask her," Lynette follows up to Ruiz's words, "but we'll do our best to arrange it." She speaks to Destiny, but her attention doesn't leave Woods for long. Her brow furrows. It isn't Destiny she's worried about. It's whether Odessa will be alright meeting another James Woods.

Destiny’s measured response has kept Woods somewhat calm, arms folded over his chest but posture rigid like he’s ready to leap at a moment’s notice. It seems no matter what permutation of reality they’re in, he’s somehow found his way into her life like some sort of weird British accent bag. “This is insane,” Woods mumbles, scrubbing his bearded chin with one hand. “But it’s exactly the bloody kind of insane that seems t’be just fine insinuating itself into m’life, so…”

Watching Destiny’s reactions closely, Woods steps closer to the conversation. “I’ve seen people who do mind tricks, make you see things that ain’t real, or look like dead people. I’m not some boaty yahoo… I used t’work for the bloody government, I'll have you know.” It's a protective chest-puffing, as if his dilapidated attire and nervous-breakdown chic hadn't already undercut his authority. “So if this turns out t’be a trick…”

Woods stares down at his hands for a moment, then doesn't try to finish that sentence. He just looks to Destiny, patiently. Whatever happens next, it's her decision.

Of all the things Destiny has traded away at the end of the world, the red-banded watch around her left wrist isn’t one of them. Some of the wariness fades and a smile creeps back into place. “We took lessons together,” she says of whether they play the piano. Though she’s a little confused about why he doesn’t seem to know that. Why he doesn’t remember.

Scratching at her wrist absently, uncertainty creeps in when she catches sight of the matching watch on Mateo’s wrist. Why would he have her watch? The explanations that flit to Des’ mind cause her to scoot a little closer to Woods. Her attention shifts to Lynette, offering her a grateful, if shy smile. “Please tell her I’m really excited to meet her.” Maybe that will help ease any anxiety about meeting her other self.

“We will,” Ruiz responds, following her eyes and looking down at the watch she wears with a tightness in his chest. How to explain that she’s the fourth sister he’s met? And the fifth he’s heard about, though he didn’t know much about what had happened to the one in the world before. He mostly knew about his, about the one travelling with them, and the one he hopes to meet again one day. When the storms clear and everything gets back to normal. If such a thing ever exists for people like them.

They played together, learned together. Maybe even grew up together. Though the age difference is slightly confusing. He glances toward that picture that she had been looking at. No, he hadn’t suddenly been a teenager here too, he did look younger, no gray in his hair, but over all it looked like him… not long before the Virus struck his world.

“We’re going to be going to the place you just left. In an attempt to go… forward.” Home for some. His home might be there too, but only if Manuel was there. “We think the Ark is the key to making the trip. Was that where… where he had been? Is that why you were there? To find him?”

"It is insane," Lynette will grant Woods that much, "but it's not a trick." She sighs. She's tired and this whole day is making her moreso. So she turns her attention to Evie, picking the girl up and resting her on her hip. Her fingers brush through the girl's curls.

"We need Michelle Cardinal," she says, tuning back into the conversation and looking over to Destiny. "We think we do. She's supposed to help us get to our son. To Manuel."

Evie's little fingers reach over to wipe a tear off Lynette's face as it tries to make a path down her face. Lynette didn't even notice it there until she felt her daughter's touch on her cheek.

At the name Michelle Cardinal Woods’ brows scrunch up and he looks to Des anxiously. “She’s probably dead,” is Woods’ fatalistic outlook. But as he hunches his shoulders and makes a noise in the back of his throat he finally whines out, “or maybe she’s alive but— fuck. That place is a death trap full of mutiny. Else wasn’t like tha’ when she went in, she came out like tha’.”

For all that he’s pressing against the issue, this is why Destiny had gone in to begin with. This new Ruiz had pegged it perfectly, even if Woods won’t outright confirm it. Instead, he just looks at Destiny and then down to his feet.

“She’s not dead!” Destiny insists in a small but emphatic voice. “But… But Jimmy’s not wrong.” With a glance up to her guardian, she takes a moment before she continues. “The director is the smartest person I’ve ever met in my whole life. She’s like… Like the Wizard of Oz! But nicer. If anyone can help, she can. We just have to save her from Don.”

Now she too stares down at her shoes. “I looked all over the Ark for my brother… But he was gone, just like everyone said. And the Looking Glass—” Maybe all it ever gave her was false hope. Or maybe the closest thing to an answer to her prayers as the universe is capable of bestowing. “I think he tried to find the garden. We always talked about finding it together someday and going on adventures. It was just stories then, but… I think it was real to him.”

Looking Glass. What little that Ruiz knows about the Looking Glass has told him enough to know he doesn’t like anything to do with it. But he also knew it seemed to be able to do what he could do— in a way. The girl was right about one thing. “We’ll do what we can to save her.” He knew that she was at near the top of at least Liz’s priorities, and he would do what he needed to do. Mostly, though, he just wanted to get back to his son.

He hesitates, looking back at his wife, at his daughter and then nods slowly as he looks back at Destiny, “I can tell you that… the garden is real.” Lost to him as it might be now. It was still real. “We don’t know how long we’ll be here, but while we are, we will try to figure out if… he’s still somewhere in it.” He might still come home to her. He might not. But he would try to find out for her.

Not having closure is terrible. Not knowing could be worse than knowing in many cases.

“Is this were we can instruct Odessa to come find you?” he asks of them both. “Or we can take you to meet her.”

The news about Michelle Cardinal's situation has Lynette rubbing her face. Bad news has been piling on top of her since her son was taken. She can't be surprised anymore, but she seems to shrink some under the weight of it.

"We'll help her." It isn't a statement made from bravery, but desperation. Whatever it takes to find her son.

She steps over to Ruiz, her hand grasping his shoulder as if she might suddenly need support. She lets him handle the arrangements for introducing the two Desses. She's too tired to do so all of a sudden.

Woods pales as Destiny seems to renew her own convictions about Michelle, and he slumps some at the inevitability of this all. How he feels like a seagull too far out at sea to fly home, following to ship to unknown ports in the hopes of getting somewhere better.

“No,” Woods says without any real context to the dismissal. There's a small shake of his head and a sharp exhale through his nose. “I've a ship. Featherweight. You— send— send your Destiny there,” because that's her name, clearly, “and we’ll… she'll talk to her.” Which implies that Woods won't. “So… so just settle at that.”

He doesn't have anything else to say. Not to Destiny who seems convinced that anything other than death awaits her back at the Commonwealth, not to Ruiz and Lynette who feel like strangers wearing the corpse masks of his friends, not to the memorial of the people this world lost. Among which, rests a tiny and worn photograph of a woman standing in this room. A photograph of Lynette.

As he leaves, perhaps Woods just feels like the gull without a ship, bobbing along in the surf.

Waiting for the undertow.

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