Family Where You Find It


des4_icon.gif bf_lynette_icon.gif vf_ruiz_icon2.gif

Scene Title Family Where You Find It
Synopsis Ruiz brings a version of a sister home to meet the family.
Date October 6, 2013

The Cedar House

New Jersey

The train ride up north took a lot less time than it felt like. Ruiz had spent the trip, sitting next to his sister, quietly telling her about all of the things that he had noticed about the woman whose body she’s in. They had even come up with a password, just in case they swapped back. A way to let him know that she was still her.

After a while, she had suggested that they use 607. He didn’t know exactly why, but it sounded like a good password. Something that only the two of them would know. Maybe she would explain why she thought of it later, but for now… he did not need to know.

After arrival, he picked up his vehicle, parked at the parking lot. It was clean, but the sensible van felt a little unlike him, even then. All the baby stuff had been removed, swapped to Lynette’s. He had made sure to text ahead at every moment, warning his wife of their visitor, telling her he would explain everything when they got there. He might not be paranoid about technopaths like some people, but he did feel some conversations were better in person.

Like who this woman was. And who she was not.

The sensible SUV drove away from towns and into woods and trees and windy roads. A few gas stations and other things were the biggest features the further they got, and the drive itself took as long as the train had. If not longer.

When it pulls up to the house, it’s a house in a clearing, with the woods in the distance. Compared to what one might expect of a big family home, this one seems small. Two stories, square, a porch with an overhang. It looks as if it’s still being remodeled. “Here we are.” Time for his family to meet.

A family where all of them happened to be from different worlds.

The front door is open, just a screen keeping things out that want in and in that want out. When they're close enough, they can hear music playing on a record player. Jazz, old and slow. Easier to hear when the engine cuts off, of course.

What they can see is a pair of little hands gripping onto the window sill, little face just barely peeking through the open window. Manuel reaches for the far side of the frame, clearly interested in the van pulling up to the house. Or the person in it, who he resembles more than a little. He's worked his head outside before Lynette appears behind him and scoops him up. "Manecito, «no. That's not safe. No windows.»" She speaks in Spanish to the child, who is only a little over a year old now. "You're going to give your mother a heart attack," she adds, more dryly. And in English. But then she notices the van, too, and a smile comes to her face. Obviously, she's glad to see who's in the van, too.

But she doesn't climb through the window. She takes Manuel and the pair of them make their way out onto the porch. Slow, because his steps are still unsteady and he hangs onto Lynette's hand as they go.

Desdemona Desjardins - like the name on her ID says - spends the train ride practicing the mannerisms Mateo reveals to her. Cagey is something she can do. It’s the confidence that will take a little effort, but Des is nothing if not an accomplished liar. Fake it ‘til you make it will just have to be her mode of operation for the time being.

She wonders if the first time he took this ride, he took it all in with the same kind of wonder she is. It isn’t that she’s never seen the sprawling city or beautiful landscapes, but it’s been some time since she’s seen it look whole.

When they arrive at the home, Des lingers in the passenger seat for a moment. She isn’t sure she’ll ever not feel like an intruder in Mateo’s life. Any of them. There’s no surprise on seeing Lynette, but their son. The breath catches in Des’ throat and tears threaten for a moment. Finally, she steps out of the van and shuts the door behind her, then retrieves her bag from the back. While she isn’t sure how long she’ll be here, she packed light so as not to concern her — Odessa’s? — Woods.

For now, she hangs back behind Mateo - she probably did this many times as a small girl - to let him make the introductions. She’ll take her cues from her big brother.

The bag he’d packed in the back is ignored in favor of getting out of the vehicle and hurrying over to the porch, bending down to pick up the young child first to give him a hug. “I’m back, buddy.” It’s weird that she tries so hard to speak Spanish with him sometimes, and he just calls him buddy and often uses English when he’s greeting him. Kid’s going to grow up in a bilingual household, that’s for sure. Though not in a way most might expect.

“I have someone for you both to meet.” He’s mentioned Odessa, his sister, to Lynette many times. The woman that she’d been in his land, the one she seemed to be in this one. She’d known who he planned to meet, that if he thought it safe he wanted them to meet each other. Though this wasn’t quite how he intended it.

He had not, however, told Odessa about the wife and child she would be meeting. Magnes had said he knew Lynette in his world, but not him. So he had assumed they had never met there or hadn’t met yet. It hadn’t occurred to him that this one would have known her too, even as he carries the young child who— really does look like him. From the eyes to the dark hair that’s already starting to curl a little, to the nose. Some of his features look like Lynette, too. Like the best traits of all of them. Her mouth and cheekbones, her eyebrows, in his coloring. Little things like that.

“Dessy, this is Manuel. And Lynette.”

Lynette watches as he picks up Manuel, her smile warmer— like she's still not over seeing them together. Because she isn't. And Manuel seems happy to see Mateo, too, full of squeals and laughter. She steps in, greeting him with a kiss. Brief, since she hasn't missed that they have company.

When she turns to Odessa, she offers a hand out toward her first. Hugs will probably come along in time, but she seems skittish and Lynette doesn't want to overwhelm her. "Odessa. It's wonderful to finally meet you," she says, her voice warm, welcoming. The Lynette she knows is similar, but her warmth is pushed out from behind scars, it's something she decides to be every day— or most days— which wasn't obvious at the time but becomes clear here. This woman is softer, gentler. If there's any darkness at all, it's far away from her mind now.

"Please, come in, all of you. Odessa, make yourself comfortable. There'll be food soon," she says, not unlike an activities director who has hidden away somewhere a color-coded schedule. "How was the trip?"

“Lynette.” Des beams and almost goes in for the hug before she catches herself. It only makes itself evident in the way her stride slows as she approaches. She takes the offered hand and shakes. “It’s nice to see you.”

It’s strange and wonderful to see the differences between both Mateo and Lynette’s counterparts. If her other self has switched places with her like they expect, she wonders what others must think of her. If they know at all.

“The trip was fine. Nice, actually.” Des adjusts the strap of the bag across her shoulder absently and follows the family inside. She watches the little boy in Mateo’s arms, giving him a smile and a quick wink. “How old is he?”

“He turned a year in August,” Ruiz responds, smiling at the kid balanced on his arm and reaching up to dig fingers into his beard and tug lightly on it. It might take her a minute or two, but he had explained when he arrived, and that was not quite long enough to have a full nine month pregnancy to develop.

“You know Lynette, though?” From her world, he assumed, as he moved them both closer to the house, carrying the baby and looking back at his sister and wife-in-all-but-law, really. “I hadn’t been sure you would, but Magnes seemed to know her.” There’s so much to explain, to both of them.

“Remember I told you about Magnes and Elisabeth and how they showed up in my world— well— this Odessa is from their world. Somehow she swapped into this world’s Odessa’s body.” It’s as confusing to him as it sounds. “Lynette is from this world,” he adds. All three from a different world.

Lynette notices the aborted hug, so when Mateo leads them back into the house, she comes to slide an arm around Des. This situation is strange, no doubt, but this strangeness is what gave her a second chance at love, so she's ready to accept whatever else comes along with it. Sisters swapping places across timelines included, it seems.

"That must have been quite an experience," she says over at Des, "and difficult."

She holds the door open for her to pass through, and for Mateo and the baby. "Manuel is from here, too." Which might be obvious, but given the circumstances, she still feels the need to point it out. "Does this mean that this Odessa is in your body in your own world? That'll be fun to untangle." Assuming it can be. Assuming she wants it to be.

Her other-world sister-in-law seems to roll with the punches as well as the one from her world. This is encouraging. She gives the blonde a brief squeeze, trying not to presume too much. “We’re friends where I’m from,” Des clarifies as to knowing Lynette. At least, she hopes Lynette still considers her a friend after everything… Another complication for another time.

“One moment I was there, the next I was here. I figure it’s the same for her, but I have no way of knowing.” Des laughs softly, “I’m not completely convinced I’m not dreaming sometimes.” But things aren’t strange enough to be a dream. They’re just the usual brand of weird. “I… Things seem nice here,” she admits. She isn’t quite ready to accept the idea of being stuck here, however.

“It’s a lot nicer than my world,” Ruiz responds, still looking at the boy in his arms rather than between the two of them too much. Sometimes he has a hard time taking his eyes off the little guy. It had been why it had taken him months to finally take the weekend off and go back to the city to see if his sister still checked on him every Wednesday.

And he still felt guilty cause she would never have heard from him if he had done what he’d intended to do when he left.

“I didn’t know if you knew her. Magnes said he had, though,” he adds as they get up the porch steps and inside, going to sit down with the kid still in his arms. The kid’s too young to understand what they’re talking about, and he’s too happy to see him to try and put him in a playpen or something.

The house isn’t large, but it’s well decorated. Four main rooms on the first floor, each about equal size, a stairwell leading upstairs. A decent sized kitchen, a living room, a foyer and the dining room all on the first floor. The bedrooms must be upstairs. “I guess that means you knew both of us.”

Since she knew who she was texting when he texted ‘Tete’.

"Well, that's good. I happen to know I have excellent taste," Lynette says to Des, her smile easy as well as her demeanor. If they were friends where she came from, Lynette is happy to accept her in this world, too.

"Well, my darling, your world was the literal post-apocalypse," she says to Ruiz, looking over at him and Manuel, her smile turning warmer, even if there is something bittersweet in there. If the ages weren't enough of a hint, the way Mateo looks at Manuel and the way Lynette looks at the two of them together gives away that something odd lingers there, too.

Lynette pulls the door closed behind them, then looks back over at Des when Mateo points out that connection a little clearer. "That would make us three for three," she says, smile widening. They're keeping score.

Des chuckles quietly and sets her bag down inside the door, nudging it out of the way with her foot. Then she approaches the little one in Mateo’s arms. “Hi, sweetie,” she coos. “You’re so itty bitty! Look at you!” She taps the boy on the nose with the tip of her index finger. The corners of her eyes crinkle with her mirth.

“I was relieved when I found your name in that phone.” Not just Mateo’s name, but the name she calls him. “I’m glad you let me come out here.” Des turns to Lynette again, slightly sheepish. “You didn’t have to open your home to me, but I’m really grateful you did. I need some time to get my bearings.”

“It really was,” Ruiz responds with a small grin, one that seems less amused and more ironic acceptance that his world had been the literal worst, and this one was much nicer. He hadn’t always thought so, because he felt so out of place in it— but some things had helped push him to the place he needed to be. When this version of his sister coos over the baby, his grin turns more genuine. Because he knew that his Odessa would have done the same.

She’d always had a soft spot for kids. He had counted on the one here having it too, which was why he told her about each and every one of the kids from the Hub. Little baby hands reach out after her poking finger, leaving behind the beard that they had been tangled in. And Ruiz asks after a moment, “Do you want to hold him?”

Even though he’s the one who asked, he looks towards Lynette to see if she’s okay with it.

"Don't be silly," Lynette says, "you're family. Family is always welcome." She smiles at Des, her hand squeezing her arm in response to that sheepishness. "Stay as long as you need."

She chuckles when Manuel reaches for her finger. None are safe. She gives Mateo a little nod at the silent question. Even though it means Des is going to learn that no one's hair is safe, either. "Manuel," she says, both to the baby and to inform Des, just in case she hadn't been told his name, "this is your auntie Odessa." Tia Dessa maybe. Whichever he's able to pronounce first, once he can talk.

“Really?” Most people don’t trust Des around children. But she doesn’t ask twice once Lynette makes the introductions. There’s tears in her eyes when she reaches out and takes the little boy from Mateo. “Hey there, little one.” She’s very careful - it’s been a little while since she’s done this, but he fits easily against her shoulder. One hand cradles the back of his head while the other arm wraps under him for stability.

“He’s beautiful,” she murmurs as she gives him a kiss on top of his head, heedless of the little hands that tangle in her wavy blonde hair. “You’re so lucky.”

While he is squirmy, when he gets introduced the boy seems to take that as a cue that he can touch her with his little hands. Because as Lynette said, no one’s hair is safe. And her hair is new and long and curly. And it will be all messed up by the time he’s done with it. Mateo rubs his hand over his beard now that it’s free from said fingers, because even facial hair isn’t safe.

“I honestly never imagined I would be a father.” Like. Ever. He had thought about it, wanted it, when he met Lynette. But the world had not been a place to have or raise a child. Even if her ability would have allowed it.

Here though. “I think I’ve been pretty good the last few months. ‘nette hasn’t thrown me out at least.” The last is said as a joke, but really, what mother would keep a father around who wasn’t good to their kid. He no longer thought of Manuel as not-quite-his kid, either. Because he was. Because the two of them had been branches of the same tree.

As Des takes the baby, Lynette slides an arm around Mateo. She feels lucky. Her head rests against his shoulder for a moment when Des says so. She doesn't know why any of this is happening, but she knows without it, she would be a far lonelier person, letting the role of mother swallow her.

"Thank you," she says, her smile amused as she watches Manuel tangle himself up in Des' hair. How beautiful he is has been a blessing and a sorrow for most of his life— because he looks so much like his father. He still does, even if he's a different man.

She looks over at Mateo, her smile crooked. "You're a very good father," she says, because he is. "So you don't have to get relegated to the guest house." Which is good, because the guest house out back isn't even finished yet.

“Oh!” First comes the surprise, then the laughter as the baby tugs at Des’ hair. She’s too delighted to be auntie to care much about the pain. But she does briefly lift her hand away from his head to sweep her hair back over her shoulders. It won’t be enough.

“Where I come from, you have a family as well.” Des smiles encouragingly, “I think some things are meant to be, even if they happen a little differently.”

A family where she comes from.

“We do?” Ruiz sounds as if he’s been punched a little in the stomach or something. That out there, another him and her had made another family together. The family that he had been unable to have with his Lynette, and that she had been unable to really have with her him, too. Even if they had both wanted it and would have had it if they could.

Somewhere, the two of them have another family.

Everything he would ask, he’s sure he already knows the answer to. Even if part of him wants to know about their children, assuming that the family meant more than the two of them. “We might be… adding to our family here too,” he adds after a moment, looking toward Lynette as if to ask her if he said something he shouldn’t.

That news makes Lynette smile. She doesn't seem as shocked, perhaps because it's easier for her to imagine than a world where they meet but don't end up together. Even if, according to Borges, that world exists somewhere. She looks over at Ruiz, since she knows his time with his Lynette was more fraught than not. There's a squeeze, reassuring.

And when he starts the news, gives him a nod. She doesn't mind it. She'd be telling every person she passes if they weren't laying a bit low out here.

"We just found out that I'm pregnant," she says, smile warmer for the moment. "Only a few days ago." And no one died shortly thereafter, even if the same players are here on the board. They're not all exactly the same.

The high-pitched note that Des emits can only be described as a squee. She bounces the baby gently, but excitedly. “You’re gonna be a big brother, little man! Yay!” The idea of Mateo and Lynette - any version of them - expanding their family is a happy one. “Congratulations!”

Manuel is snuggled closer. Des’ glow at the good news begins to fade slightly. “I’m glad for some good news right now.” She glances between the two, her smile genuine - if slightly diminished. “Thank you for sharing with me.”

“That’s why I tried to find you again— the other you. I wanted my baby sister to know my son’s baby sister— or brother. I’m good with either.” Though slightly partial to sister, not gonna lie. As Ruiz says it, his smile looks more and more like the one that Des knew on the other side of reality. Except the beard. There’d always been a hint of saddness in his eyes, a hint of tension in the way he held his eyebrows, but that seemed gone suddenly.

For obvious reasons.

“But there’s a possibility that— my sister here isn’t— like in other worlds,” he adds to his wife. “She may have fallen in with the wrong people.” Though really that had always been kind of their thing, too, falling in with the wrong people, believing in the wrong people. “But we’ve been careful, we can continue to be.”

But deep down he remembers the precogs words, the one who warned him of the green dragon that wanted to use or devour him— he couldn’t hide forever. But he could try.

Lynette chuckles when Des informs Manuel of his new role in life, and the baby seems to pick up on the fact that everyone's happy around him because he claps his hands together and babbles a little in reply to his auntie.

"Thank you," Lynette says to the congratulations, and she reaches over to give Des' arm a gentle squeeze. "We're glad to have you to share it with."

She looks over at Ruiz when he explains, her head tilting. "Well. Maybe when we manage to help Des get home we can see about making sure this world's Odessa falls in with the right people next." That's how it works, after all. "But yes. We'll be careful." She wasn't always, but she is now.

“If she’s anything like me,” Des murmurs, “then family is more important to her than anything else.” She drops a kiss on top of Manuel’s head as if to punctuate the point. “She’ll come around if you help her.” It’s not a stretch for her to imagine that the Odessa of this world is already having doubts about where she should stand.

“I think she is,” Like her. Like the sister he knew. Cause really, even if things had been different after a point, they were all branches of the same tree. Ruiz’s sister loved children, loved him, loved her close friends who were practically family and would have never done anything to hurt any of them, which is why he couldn’t believe what Edward had crunched mental numbers anc come to the determination of. The determination that had killed her.

Edward Ray wasn’t always right about everything. He hadn’t been right about who would come out of the portal on November 8, he wasn’t right about Ruiz’s sister. And nothing will ever convince him otherwise.

“We’ll help. I want her to know her little nephew. Especially since he already seems to like her hair.” He likes all hair, though, really. But now that he has a family, here, he wouldn’t mind including those who should have been there in the first place.

"She'll have a family waiting for her when we get this all straightened out." Lynette steps over to put her hands on her son's face. "And who wouldn't love you, my little darling?" She kisses his forehead, then looks over at Des.

"Come have something to eat," she says, "it'll be better than standing here." She nods toward the kitchen, to a small breakfast table there. She puts an arm around Ruiz before she walks them in that direction. "I think we need some chilaquiles."

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