vf_ruiz_icon.gif vf_shaw_icon2.gif

Scene Title Brothers
Synopsis Sometimes family is needed, sometimes, it's unwanted.
Date January 19, 2012

Hospital Room

The overwhelming experience of arriving to an entirely new world filled with life and energy sets a frenetic pace compared to the one Shaw and Ruiz came from. Even the hospital within which the latter has found himself in for treatment is a busy one. Despite the rush outside, though, the room where Ruiz recovers in is relatively isolated. Only the soft, constant beeping of heart monitoring equipment and the drip of IV fluids keep him company. And, perhaps, dark thoughts.

Until, the noise of the door opening and shutting with a soft click. The rustle of cloth fabric approaching. And then the appearance of a clean faced Shaw, at least in the sense that he isn’t in the same clothes and covered with dirt and blood and remnants of another timeline. He’s showered at some point. The hoodie, a typical drug store souvenir sort, and jeans and shoes from some nice street vendor who gave him a discount to help a guy out.

He doesn’t ask if Ruiz is awake. But rather, Shaw moves around the room to set down a navy-colored backpack on the large window sill beside a vase meant for flowers, unzipping the bag and starts pulling out various items: another drugstore hoodie, black, a few pairs of jeans and shoes, socks, underwear even (that street vendor was very nice), then food items like more protein bars and candy bars, a bag of potato chips (the loudest thing in the bag), a bottle of water. Once unpacked, he pulls over a chair and perches upon it, a leg folded up so he hugs a knee to his chest. And he waits, quiet, patient. Fiddles with the visitor’s band around his wrist.

There had been very little to do besides stare at the ceiling with his thoughts for some time. Thankfully, they had listened to his advice and given him the negation drug that they use in this world to silence some of the noise in his head, but Ruiz still had to deal with dark thoughts, harmful memories. Loss and pain. He’d barely had a chance to mourn his wife and while the necklace with her ring had been removed along with his other jewelry and possessions, he had reclaimed it and held it clasped in his hand. Maybe one day soon he would get a better necklace to hang it off—

As of now, it was pretty much a leather strap.

At some point, he’d fallen back asleep. They have him on painkillers as well as negation. They have him on a lot of things, he’s sure. He didn’t recognize half of them, but he still held onto the ring in his hand. That had been how he was when Shaw entered. But after a long wait, probably boring too, he suddenly starts awake, weight shifting in the bed as if trying to get away from something that wasn’t there, eyes darting open. At first, he looks confused, like he doesn’t know where he happens to be, his hand clutches tighter around the ring like it was an anchor.

Then his eyes fall on someone familiar— kind of? He looked different, but he still recognized him, “Shaw?”

The sound Shaw makes, something of a startled half-gurgle, half-queried ‘Yes?’, betrays he had been nodding off a bit as well in the time he’d been waiting. Leg released, unfolding, the man nearly tumbles to the bedside were it not that he snags the hospital chair arm and drags it with him, closer. Shaw swallows thickly, face undecided on whether it should express concern, happiness, discomfort, fear. It settles on generalized anxiety, revealed in the privacy of the room. “I’m here,” Shaw answers.

Dark eyes examine Ruiz up close now that he’s awake, traveling quickly down the length of the bed to the foot, back up and stopping at the hand clutching Lynette’s ring. Shaw’s gaze lingers there, the understanding of the meaning behind the clenched fist sending his gaze back to the other man’s face. “I’m sorry I was late.” It could sound like he’s apologizing for missing a curfew, the very belated apology for showing up at the last moments of the battle in their prior world coming out quietly. His hands grasp at the edge of his visitor’s band. “Sorry for worrying you. Your heart…”

Once sitting up proved difficult for him, Ruiz reached out and grabbed the controls to the bed and the motorized buzzing could be heard as the head of the bed rose up so that he could see him better. “It’s fine. I’m surprised you managed to find your way there without— though I guess Vanguard knew what we were doing, and firing big guns at us and… everything.” Their trek to the Deveaux Building had not been exactly subtle. “But I’m glad you found us— both of you.” Him and Izzy.

So few of those he’d wanted to save had made it. Mostly just the children. And even some of them had been lost. Enough. A vast majority of them had made it. They’d only had a little more than a dozen to start off.

But Lynette had not made it. Steve had not made it. Brenda had not made it.

So many left behind, so many died.

And at least one he’d sentenced to death with his own hand.

His hand drops away from the ring around his neck. “I’m fine. Edward had told me. He didn’t think I could survive another attempt.” But he’d still did it anyway, and he might just try it again if he had any say in things. “And I did survive. And so did you.”

“That’s what Isabelle and I thought, when we were outside,” Shaw confirms the thought process. For a while, he rambles on about Isabelle and his side trip, regarding what they did after the failed raid with the huntress Vor spiriting Gillian away, after Isabelle had run off from the retreat in a rage and Shaw following after, all the afters that could have been them seeking their doom, and how the pair running back towards the Hub was their only - last - thought. Before the mortars started. Before they heard the fighting and drew towards it like moths to flame.

The reminder of their former home comes with the reminder of their current losses, which brings it all back to the present. To Ruiz laying in a hospital bed. The mention of Edward gets a disconcerted look from Shaw though he doesn’t know the truth either. For so long, the man had been a defacto authority within the Hub despite all his claims of not. And now without him or Rickham, there is a feeling of a power vacuum. Only, the young man’s finally filling that hole with thoughts of his own authority. Who will tell him how to live? Nobody but him.

It leaves him with a shiver of uncertainty, though, one that elicits a physical reaction of crossing and rubbing his arms with his hands. Shaw chews on a lip, dark eyed gaze flicking back to the man’s face, expression clouded with concerns. “What are we going to do?” An inclusive, assuming ‘we’ tumbles forth. “You’re not going to stay here, are you? It smells clean, but…” His nose wrinkles on the bridge as he sniffs.

Through all of it, Ruiz had stayed quiet, listening and nodding at the appropriate moments, expressing concern for them when he could, but he didn’t seem too keen on sharing his own experiences after the raid, or the teleporter they had tried to chase down. They both knew what happened to her. What he’d done to her. It had been one of the most horrific uses of his ability that he had let anyone from the Hub see, but he had done it, because she was stabbing kids, because she killed Denisa and Brenda. Because she tried to kill more.

But he still looked haunted as he thought about it. He’d killed many more than that, too— most infected.

“I don’t know yet,” he admits as his fingers find the ring around his neck, rubbing it a little. “I might leave the city.” Or he might stay. “Lynette’s here.” He sounds hesitant rather than relieved. “But I can’t see her. If she hadn’t known me, maybe, but… she knew me here. The other me.” So he can’t just… find her, meet her. She would know, he would have to explain. And if he met her again, he knew what would happen. He wouldn’t be able to stop himself.

And that wasn’t fair to her. He knew that.

“I’ll see if Liz and Magnes want me to try again, and if not… I don’t know. I’ll figure out something.” Whether it was working as a janitor in a hospital or just trying to avoid life in general, he didn’t know yet. And he might still go see Lynette even if he knew he shouldn’t. Just a few times. Just to see her.

“L-leave? But you just got… oh! Oh…” Shaw straightens then slackens, alarm and excitement, then realizations strike followed by the sadness, by caution. “But. She still might be happy to see you.” He verbalizes a soft consideration, a quiet protest to his wishes. Mostly because he sees Ruiz in pain and sadness. “What if… what if we bring her coffee?” suggests the man, again with the ‘we’, an unthinking, enthused eagerness to it.

He’s not the one to discourage Ruiz, certainly, but when the man mentions Liz and Magnes and trying his ability again, Shaw reaches out to cover Ruiz’s hand. His head shakes vehemently. “No, no. I didn’t mean we should go away again. You can’t… don’t…” A tremble enters Shaw’s voice. “What about your packet?” The files they’d received on the bus have him tagged as a courier and delivery driver, although with only a few days of experience in this world, Shaw hasn’t acted upon it. The concept of work isn’t new but the employer is.

Funny that he should mention her being happy to see him, bringing her coffee and his packet all at once cause that’s pretty much wrapped up as an answer to everything he just says. “I’m dead here.” Ruiz starts, not looking toward his packet, though he’d still kept it. It had an article in it. “I was murdered. A few days ago.” He’ll leave out what mental math he did in his head, but the raid hadn’t even been more than a few days ago, either. Where Lynette had died. In his arms. In another world. “While I think she would be relieved to see me, it wouldn’t be fair to her, or him.”

Or her either. They both deserved a chance to mourn. But that wouldn’t mean he would not try to see her a little anyway.

She also deserved more than false perceptions, a wrong belief that he was the man she’d lost. Just as she deserved the same from him. And right now he didn’t think he could do that. That he could take the time to see the differences, the things that made her unique.

“Enough about me, though,” he finally says, trying to endcap this discussion before he starts getting too upset. “What about you? What did your packet say?”

Dead. Murdered. The alarm, the disbelief, is immediate in the way Shaw straightens up in a rigid snap of his posture and the dropping of his jaw open. It’s barely enough of a question, when Ruiz asks him about his packet, to jar the man from his stiffened surprise.

It’s also enough to loosen the wetness that sprang up from their welling in Shaw’s large, rounded eyes. Tears run down and catch in the beginnings of a layer of dark facial hair. He lifts his hand, a finger and knuckle brushing off the tears. “Mine? Mine says that I… I drive. And I bring things to people, delivery. My name is Morris Morrison,” he answers, voice halting and hesitant in the beginning, then clearing to a more established sense at the end. Like the more times he says the name, the more he will understand and believe that this is him. That it should be his name.

But then his hand that wiped his tears reaches for Ruiz’s again, this time to clasp around the other man’s fingers in a firmed resolve. “But whatever future happens, I want you to know that, you are my family in all of them. Akhi. My brother.” For all the distracted and eccentric moments he had in their old, plague-wracked world, Shaw did sometimes have his moments of clarity. Points of faith in his opinion, whatever his beliefs were. Some of those points were also those people he had in the Hub, dotting his mental sky like guiding stars. And he would follow, wherever they would lead.

When he talks about his packet in terms of who he is right now, Ruiz raises an eyebrow slightly, but his surprise doesn’t last long because, well— the other man is saying the rest of what he wanted to say. That they were brothers. That he would always be his brother. In any life. What should have been something that would grant relief, grant hope, grant a feeling of being cared for and wanted, it seems to have a very different effect. His eyes go distant, his eyebrows lower, and he looks away.

“I’m not a very good brother.” It wasn’t something that most people saw, but he had a pretty guilty way about him a lot of the time, feelings of guilt and low self-worth. And perhaps in his grief that has been doubled. “If you knew who I was before we came to the Hub, you wouldn’t say that. If you knew what I could be— you wouldn’t say that.”

The things he’d done before the Hub— even one thing he had done inside the Hub, it made his chest hurt. The heart monitor didn’t go off, but if Shaw would listen, he would feel his heartrate increase. “I’m not worthy of being your brother.”

As he sees Ruiz’s features fall rather than look relieved, Shaw narrows his eyes a little in examination. Ruiz’s distancing of himself, the self-deprecation, earn him a puzzled look. The clarity of the words he’d spoken doesn’t immediately disappear then way one of Ruiz’s portals might. Dark eyes flick up to the other man’s face. “I would not say that because I was not there before,” he says slowly, feeling out the meaning of his own statement. One of the things about Shaw that seemed a constant - looking forward and not back, worrying for the present and not the past - a survival skill born of those who lived through a world where the past had wheezed, collapsed, and died around them.

“You don’t know, what I would say,” Shaw tells him with a tone that sounds not shaky. Firm. Insistent. The hand that grips Ruiz’s fingers squeezes, also insistent. The ring clutched inside Ruiz’s hand likely presses harder into his skin with the action. “I say you are. You are my brother.” He blinks several times when a new sheen to his eyes springs from the vehemence with which he says those words.

Eyes shift, breaking from the long stare he’d leveled at Ruiz. Down to the spot where the man’s heart lies, beating quick beneath bone and blood. Shaw steadies his breathing, which had become shallow and quick like the other man’s heartbeat. “You’re my only family,” he says as he releases the grip he had, pushing up to his feet, head bowed as he continues to stare down at the man’s chest.

He does listen, and listen closely, his vision blackening along with the feeling of numbness slipping over his body as feeling leaves it, other senses dulling in favor of the audial attention being paid to the sounds of Ruiz’s heart. Shaw’s ability to augmented his hearing told him a lot, those seldom times he was not on negation and used his power to simply soak in the sounds. And that one day, not too terribly long ago, when he’d heard the brokenness of Ruiz’s heart. He listens now, too, to hear the heart of his brother and remember the sound of it.

His only family.

Ruiz doesn’t know what to say to that, because he immediately wants to tell the man all the reasons he makes a terrible family member. Or why he’s not sure he wants to consider anyone family anymore, for that matter. The last people he considered family he murdered for or buried. Instead of telling the man all the reasons he should not consider him family, all the reasons he should leave and never look back, he goes backwards in the subject, perhaps as a way no to address how he currently feels about family. “You didn’t exactly answer my question about the packet. I highly doubt the Shaw of this world went by Morris Morrison.”

And it’s easier to talk about people they aren’t than people they are, sometimes. Like right now.

From the look in Shaw’s glassed over eyes for those scant moments he’s focused on listening to Ruiz’s heart, it might seem like they could be there all night and into the next day going back and forth about family. As a family might bicker, even. Ruiz’s question cuts through the heartbeats, getting Shaw to release the power. He blinks, focus coming back into his gaze, a flush of warmth darkening his cheeks like he’d had a drink too many. In a way he has - those of their world weren’t the kind to use their powers as much. He’d have to get used to it.

Shuffling uncomfortably in place, now it’s Shaw’s turn to seem uncomfortable with the questioning. Legs fold, he sits down on the hospital visitor’s chair beside Ruiz’s bed. “Isabelle and I saw me,” he admits quietly, avoiding eye contact with a look towards the black screen of the powered off television mounted on the wall across from the bed. “He says his name is Shaw too. And he helps with people’s homes and… floors.”

He reaches a hand back behind his neck, rubbing a spot as he regards the television. His childhood is a blur now, but he remembers the television, the feeling of gathering to it. Not the shows, but the emotions that are tied to the device. Happiness, sadness, fear, anger, love… there were all sorts of answers in that magic box. He and Isabelle had spent several hours by now watching it from the hotel rooms they’ve managed to get in to.

Then he turns back to Ruiz, hand dropping back into his lap. A brighter look enters his expression as he says, “I… do good things here. I help people.” Shaw leans forward in his seat, sliding closer to his ‘brother’. “I want to help you, too.” He looks very much like he’s just waiting for the go ahead. Or any sign of a go ahead. What exactly he wants to help with, he hasn’t said. Maybe everything. Anything.

The story of Shaw being the most epic of all floor-ers makes Ruiz smile, even if it’s short lived. At least he’s alive in this world. That is nice. Even if it’s doing something he finds amusing. Life is better than the alternative. And his friend has Isabelle, too. It means he’s not leaving him alone, at least. His friend will have someone.

“I know you want to help me, I do. But right now I don’t want to be helped.” It’s a simple statement, one that makes tha smile fall off his face as he looks down at his hand. Where the watch should be. Where the ring should be. He will get them both back soon enough, but—

No. He doesn’t want help. Because he doesn’t deserve it.

Because he couldn’t bear to lose him too.

“I’ll find you when I do,” he does offer. Even if part of him knows that could be never.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License