In This Life And Any Other


vf_lynette_icon.gif vf_ruiz_icon.gif vf_steve_icon.gif

Scene Title In This Life And Any Other
Synopsis Lynette and Mateo make their love known.
Date January 12, 2012

The Hub

Outside the doors that seal off the survivors away from the rest of the Hub, there's some loud noises. Someone yelling. Something getting slammed against a wall, and then, silence. The intercom had told them they would need to wait for twenty-four hours, but at least one person inside the room knows that she won't be able to wait through all of it. Not and keep what she holds. Perhaps he'd seen through the window that someone had been missing, perhaps something else had happened. Less than an hour later, the door to the outside opens instead.

It seems Ruiz took the long way around, and looking as if he ran the entire time. He didn't bother to put on a protective suit, either, but he likely had taken his shot, so the chances of infection were smaller.

And now he'd be stuck in quarantine with them. In his hands is a sealed case, one that he quickly drops down and opens up, showing that he's brought one thing. Something more precious in this case than even food and water, which they already had sealed away in the room.

Injections. It would allow people a chance, if they weren't infected yet and someone else in the room was.

But it's not anyone visible in the room he's worried about. His eyes go immediately to Steve. "Where is she, what happened??"

Steve has run out of tears to cry for the moment. She's a stoic portrait where she sits on the floor, eyes closed and listening to something only she can hear. Having a conversation that might only be apparent to Kaylee Thatcher.

She looks up when Mateo arrives, eyes brighter blue than usual. It hides all the red, but can't completely disguise the puffiness. Steve pushes to her feet and meets him halfway. "Tomato—" She nearly pulls him into a hug, but steps back quickly, reminding herself of the danger she is to him right now. Even with the precautions he's taken.

"She's… She's with me."

Apparent to only Steve, the conversation in her mind has been the only thing keeping Lynette cognizant on the trek home. And Steve is the only one who gets to hear Lynette's anguish when they hear Mateo's voice. Because she can't hide it, not like this.

Which is also why there's a flash the moment after Steve's words. To spare her the echo of her own pain. Lynette reforms there next to her friend, hand already moving to press against her abdomen. She got a stay of execution, but it's clear that it's only a matter of time. The pipe that punctured her is long gone, leaving only the bloody wound behind. If they had medical facilities, a proper doctor, maybe. But as it stands, Lynette probably will not make it through their quarantine alive, infected or not.

But she looks at Ruiz like she might not want him to notice, pulling up a weak and sad smile for him.

The use of the nickname causes a sharp inhale. That, even more than the reddness in her eyes, speaks volumes. Ruiz doesn't care about the others present, doesn't even notice them. He only sees the woman before him, the spark that pulls from her and reforms into… "'Nette," he speaks in breathless tones, not caring that he could be infected by getting close to her because he drops down and immediately reaches out to her, looking down at the wound with a grimace.

No, even if Aislinn came over to bandage her up immediately, there's little that they could do other than delay. If it were a limb, perhaps, but internal injuries…

He doesn't even try to count all those who didn't make it. No Shaw. No Isabelle. No Dirk. No Woods. He instead focuses on the one still there. "I'm here, mi luz." He wants to give her some assurance, but the only assurance he can give is that he's there.

Dark eyes shift toward Steve, for the moment holding it together as he checks her for injuries.

"'Nette, no!"

With a sharp gasp of surprise, Steve falls to her knees, weak from the sudden loss of energy just as much as the emotional impact of seeing her friend like that again. Before either of them can express concern over her, she shakes her head quickly and points between the two of them. You're all that matters. "I just overdid it."

That's when she starts to cry again. Steve covers her eyes with one hand and sobs, letting the other hand stay braced against the floor to help keep her upright.

Two Weeks Earlier

"With what Izzy and Shaw brought back with them? It's gonna be big. Like… all the strength we can muster big." Lynette sits in a subway car, looking across at Ruiz, Steve next to her. For support. There's a point she's getting around to, even if she's taking the long way around it. "Maybe the only chance we get. Big." Her fingers curl into the shawl that their scavengers brought back, Shaw giving it to her in what she can only assume is an attempt to mend fences. It's softer than anything she's owned in a long time. So she accepted it.

Her gaze flicks away for a moment, upward. "I have to go along. I know what you and the kid need. I understand the stakes. And Steve and I together? They won't see us coming."

Ruiz knows he should say that he should go to, that he could be a big help. But he also knows some things that most others don't know. Some things that could change everything. If the wrong person saw him, if they said the wrong thing… And if he got infected, no one would make it out of this world. He knew that too.

"No, I don't imagine they would." See the two of them coming, he means. Shaw had brought back something else from the trip, some he had paid for with a song. Something he felt in his pocket as he glanced away for a moment and then looks back at her.

"Let's get married. Right now." He'd already asked and she'd said yes, but this— this was different. Reaching down for her hand, he beams a huge smile and then calls out past her, "Steve! Can we borrow you for a few minutes."

He would have asked the President to do it, but— well— Steve was more appropriate anyway.

Steve looks up from where she'd been leaning up against the car's entrance. First there's apprehension on her expression, because she knows what Lynette's here for. Then, when she sees that smile, she can't help but give him one in return. "Yeah, of course, Tomato." She pushes off the metal wall and clears the distance between herself and her two friends.

There's a glance spared toward Mateo's pocket, then it lifts to his face. Her brows hike up. He knows that look, with its secret mischief known only to the most select few. Is that a ring in your pocket, or are you just happy to see us?

Lynette blinks in surprise. She had clearly expected some debate, had her arguments all lined up for why she needed to go and why he needed to stay. She seems to miss the movement to check on his pockets, because she's just had the wind pulled from her sails.

But she's glad to skip the debate. Or— more likely— her smile comes back because of his suggestion. In her own mind, she'd already been considering them as such or close enough, even before he asked her. But the idea of making it sort of official had been growing on her. And she laughs when he takes her hand and calls for Steve.

"You're lucky that I was going to go along with it anyway," she says to him as she uses his hand to stand up. She looks over at their First Lady, her smile widening when she agrees. But then she looks back to Mateo in a sharp movement, eyes wide.

"I didn't write any vows."

"We'll make them up as we go," Ruiz responds with a grin, though he'll leave out the fact he'd been thinking about his after he asked her, when he asked Shaw to find him some rings, when— well— Maybe he'd been thinking about it for a while now. But he didn't expect her to realize that. Moving toward Steve, "I know it's short notice, but will you marry us?" She might have already gathered that had been what was on their minds, with the upcoming raid, with him having finally asked her not too long ago and her having said yes.

They hadn't exactly been secret about that part.

He pulls out the two rings that Shaw had spent the time to gather and then carefully clean. Back in the past, they would have cost a pretty penny— but now they had only cost a song. Though it had been the risk to get it that had been the highest price.

And Thompson didn't return, as well.

"Could you do it?"

"I wrote Allen's vows for him and forgot to write vows of my own," Steve confides to Lynette with a wink. It might not even be a joke. "You've got this."

First, Mateo is drawn in for a tight hug and a kiss on his cheek. Then, it's Lynette's turn. That hug lingers longer. "Took you two long enough," she murmurs against her friend's hair before pulling back. "All right, you two. Join hands."

It doesn't seem like Lynette catches onto anything he might have been crafting in his mind, instead she chuckles at his response. "It's worked for us so far," she notes. Winging it. Steve, too, gets a laugh at her secret, but she shakes her head like she doesn't believe her for a moment. But she returns the hug, her grip on Steve tight before she pulls back. Her comment gets a crooked smile. "I'm stubborn, you know that."

Because she is. But she turns to Mateo, smile softening at his question. "For you? I could do anything." And she reaches out—


—and takes his hand. Her hold on his is as weak as she looks, but there's a determination about her. "Javi," she says to his assurance, "I had to see you." She doesn't have any herself. "I made Steve carry me here," she adds, an apology on her words, meant for the other woman. She should have stayed behind, spared Steve the trauma. But she did not. "She made sure I got here," she says, "you have to help her. After." After she's gone.

Hand squeezing hers back, Ruiz bites back the tears that already want to form, knowing that they will fall soon enough. For now, though— now he can keep them in. His other hand moves to brush blonde hair out of her face, and he nods at her words. "She did— she got you home." More than a place, that little word. For the both of them it had been a person for longer than they both realized, most likely.

But it had always been more than these metal rusty walls. He doesn't comment on her request, other than to nod. He has a feeling that he's going to need her more than she'll need him, but he doesn't say that.

With that, his hand rests on her wound, as if he could keep the blood in longer, keep her alive longer. Instead he just knows he'll get blood there, on his own hand. But he doesn't care. If he even gets one second more…

"You're here."

There's a squeaking noise from Steve when her friend instructs her husband to look after her. "That's my job, 'Nette." For all that she tries to be assertive, her voice is weak. Her conviction is lacking. She isn't sure — No, she is sure that she will never be the same person. But what she does is take a deep breath and pull herself together for her friend's sake.

Steve wraps her arms around Lynette from behind and holds her tightly, like she could give her own essence to the other woman and will her to live.

"I love you, 'Nette. You're— You're everything. To both of us." Dimmed blue eyes look over the blonde's shoulder to Mateo. She blames herself, and he can see it in that gaze.

Lynette lets her own hand drop from her wound when he takes over, even if the touch makes her cry out. She tries to muffle it as best she can. Her eyes close when Steve holds onto her, too, her bloody hand moving to rest on Steve's arm. "I love you, too," she says, quietly. It isn't something she says, but whatever wall has been up between her and her feelings, it hardly matters now.

A moment later, she moves her hand to Mateo's shoulder, fingers curling into his shirt. "Go find our better world," she says to him, a tear slipping down her face. Pain makes her tense, makes her grip on his hand tighten, makes her eyes start to glaze over, like she's not quite seeing what's in front of her anymore. "Promise me you'll find it. You'll go. Stand in the sun. Walk in the grass." Her hold on him shifts— Steve can feel it, too— she can't hold herself up anymore and she pitches forward, his shoulder keeping her from falling to the floor. "Our little house. Cedar and pine. I'll be in the garden. Find me in the garden."

A glance is cast at Steve, that sight in her eyes unmistakable. Ruiz just shakes his head, a silent way of saying that it hadn't been her fault, that she couldn't have changed it. If anyone had been at fault it has been him, for not going along despite his concerns. Despite the protests he knew he would have had. The fact that Kaylee sits in a corner needing attention for her wounds told him he really should have gone.

"I will, I promise," he says quietly, not protesting even though he'd wanted that better world for the both of them. That garden of infinite possibilities that lay beyond the portal between world. That him and the kid would find a way to open. "I'll find you."


"For us," Ruiz responds with a grin, as he holds her hand in his, the rings pressed between them for now. Soon they would rest on their fingers. But not now, they would both hold onto them. He looks toward Steve, that grin touching his eyes, making his forehead crease down the middle, as only his truest smiles do.

"Lynette and Mateo," Steve begins with a bright smile on her face, "you two have pledged your love to one another, and now want to make that pledge known to all. It's my honor to join your lives together as one." She's not done this before, and she isn't following any book. Following her heart is what feels appropriate here.

"Lynette Rowan, we've known each other a long time now. You've been my mentor and my best friend. It's been my privilege to watch your love for Mateo grow." She turns then to the groom. "Mateo Ruiz, when I first met you, I knew you had a big heart. Watching you decide to share that heart with Lynette has been beautiful." Her smile grows, eyes a little glassy from tears not yet big enough to shed. "I am so pleased to witness your vows of love for one another, so that I can share with all others the story of your love. Lynette… Ladies first."

Lynette's hand squeezes Mateo's while Steve starts, her smile softens, her eyes tear up. No effort is made to hide it, not today. Not in front of her two favorite people. The fact that she is going first gets a chuckle, though, and a playful, sidelong look in Steve's direction. But, nevertheless, she turns toward Mateo to take his other hand, too.

"Mateo," she says, her tone sheepish. And her blush, too. "You are my partner, my equal in love, and I want to be the mirror to show you your true self," she stumbles over the words a little, holding his hand a little tighter when she does. "In any time, in any place, I want to be by your side. We're on this path together and I won't let you walk alone again. Your love is my anchor, let mine be your strength. Your arms are my home, let mine be your shelter." She pauses, glancing upward for a long moment before she looks back to him again. "I believe in you, in our future together, in everything we can become. There is no beginning, no end. Only us."

The vows said make Mateo smile, a warm look that he rarely ever had since they came to the Hub. The woman who held his hand knew he could look like that, when they were alone. When it was just the two of them. The happiest moments. Steve had seen him smile, but never quite like this, never in a way that made the years melt off his face, made him look so much younger. The only thing that would have made this better is if his sister could have been there to see it…

"Mateo, your turn."

It's so simply said, but he still feels the need to the woman witnessing their vows and making this somewhat offical. As offical as anything can be in this time and place. Offical in their hearts and souls, which is where it really mattered.

"Lynette. I often call you 'mi vida' or 'mi luz' or a thousand other names. It is because to me, you are everything that is beautiful and good in my entire life. You're the one thing that I would never change, or take back— You are my light, my sun and my moon, and you've shown me more love than I've ever known. More love than I probably deserve… I swear to love you, no matter where we go. I am yours, completely. In this life and any other."

There's a demure sniffle from Steve's direction. Good job, you two. "I couldn't have written better vows myself." Which is high praise, coming from a presidental speech writer. For what good that skill is these days. "Mateo, the rings please?" The corners of her mouth pull tighter with her mirth. "Don't worry, I won't make you let her go for very long." She gives him a wink. "I've got you."


Lynette pitches forward and Steve does her best to keep her upright and from colliding too hard with Mateo. "I've got you. I've got you…" Her tears are flowing freely down her face, but there's no sniffling or sobbing to go with them now.

Her blood is warm against Steve's cool skin. She wants to scream for someone to help them, but the one who had the power to save Lynette's life preceded her sister-in-law in death. And the screaming will only make this worse. "We're here, 'Nette. We're always here with you."

His promise gets a nod and Lynette tries to say something, but it's lost in a gasp and a choke. Blood trickles from the corner of her lips. So instead of trying to talk, she reaches a hand into her pocket and pulls out a piece of thick paper. It's been folded, and by the look of it refolded and refolded. And now, stained with blood. But she presses it into his hand all the same. She doesn't explain what it is, but he'll find out in his own time. It's possible that she can't.

The words from Steve get a whimper and she shakes with a sob. And with fear. And with pain. "I'm scared," she says, barely a whisper, only breathed out. "I'm scared."

The piece of paper is taken, with confusion, but he doesn't move to look at it right away. Ruiz will hold onto it, cherish it, as long as he's able. He's sure it means something. When she professes her fear, he shakes his head. No, he's terrified. He's terrified of a world without her, of the darkness that he can feel creeping up, of the emptiness he knows will soon follow. He's never been more terrified.

He doesn't know if he can do this without her— any of it.

In this life and any other.

He promised.

He can't save her, can't take away her pain, so instead he leans forward to press a kiss against her forehead and… starts to sing. A song she knows quite well. One of her favorites. And the very same song he'd sang in payment for their rings.

Fly me to the moon
Let me play among the stars
Let me see what spring is like
On Jupiter and Mars
In other words, hold my hand
In other words, darling, kiss me

He doesn't sing it as well as he could have, his voice tight, breaking with emotion. But if she's going to leave him, he wants her to do so with one of her favorite songs. It's the last thing he can give her, besides that promise and the hint of a possibility that one day

From behind, Steve's arms wrap tighter around Lynette. Her chin rests against the blonde's shoulder, her damp cheek next to hers while Mateo sings. "We're with you in this life and every other." If there's a life beyond this one, and Steve is fervently hoping that there is, they'll find her there.

One hand rests over Mateo's, reminding him that even when this is over, he's not alone. They'll still have each other.

For at least another twenty-four hours.

Lynette closes her eyes at the kiss and her arms move to curl around him. And when he starts to sing, tears roll down her cheeks, but she opens her eyes to look at him. Because now she knows exactly when their last everything was. Last kiss. Last smile. Last time she'll hear him sing.

And the song he chooses. She was afraid for a long time to tell him how much she loved him, how much she needed him, how happy she was to be his. In other words was the only way she knew how. In stolen moments. In shared glances. Her hand lifts to his cheek, her touch light. Delicate. Far more than it's ever been before.

"I'll see you soon," she says, lips curving into the barest smile, like she's lost her grip on the reality of what's happening. Her hand falls away, dropping heavily. She breathes out…

…and she doesn't breathe again.

Fill my life with song
Let me sing for ever more

Ruiz keeps on singing, quietly, though he heard her words. His voice starts to break even more the further along he gets. He keeps his fingers wrapped around her, presses his forehead against hers. He keeps singing.

You are all I long for
All I worship and adore
In other words, in other words

With a shuddered breath, he sits upward, enough to press his hands over her eyes, to close them so that she looks, every so briefly, like she's just sleeping.

In other words, in other words

There's tears running down his cheeks now, as he fumbles to open up the piece of paper, unfolding it. It's a drawing. Charcoal on paper with faded print. The only thing an artist of the Hub had had to work with at the time. A drawing of a house. Of two people. Holding hands as they look at it. The back profiles seem familiar.

In other words, in other words

In the artists handwriting are five words, simple. We die. Love does not.


Mateo waits for a long moment, until they both have rings on their fingers. They don't fit perfectly, hers is a little loose, his a little tight, but they fit well enough. They're perfect.

In other words

"I love you."

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