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Scene Title Incinerator
Synopsis Edward Ray and Mateo Ruiz have words.
Date January 16, 2012

The Hub

Even more than the meeting that had been called, Ruiz dreaded what came after. Going back to their room. The door felt even heavier than he remembered, the loud creak of metal against metal. They had long discussed oiling it, getting it fixed, but that had fallen to the wayside with other more pressing worries. The newcomers. The hope that they had brought with them. The possibilities.

The promise of a world without disease. A world without the death that hunted them in the darkness. A world without them.

This world had nothing, now. But perhaps, somewhere, there was a world with a little house. With her. A world that they could live and die together, after many years. As many as they both could have. Not the days that he had been given.

He pulls out the sketch that she had pressed into his hand moments before her breath left her. A drawing in the same style as the resident precog who had once lived among the walls. Who’d died weeks before. A sketch he’d never seen, or heard of. Words he’d never known.

We die. Love does not.

She had known. Eve had known. Had she seen her own death, even? Had she seen the other worlds? Or had she just known he would lose her?

The door to the hall stayed open, cause he hadn’t bothered to close it. He sits on the edge of their bed, a small cot that had barely fit the two of them. He could swear it still smelled like her. He could almost hear her footsteps approaching, the click of her shoes against the floor.

Even if he knew it could not be. Would not be. Would never be again.

There's a shadow of a man in Ruiz’s doorway, tall and unshaven, smells of charcoal in a way that is subtly unsettling. He can't get the smell out of his hair. Kain Zarek stands with his arms crossed over his chest, brows furrowed and head down. He'd lingered there for a bit, only finally speaking up once he'd found some of the words to.

“M’sorry ‘bout yer girl.” Kain offers from the doorway, one shoulder coming to rest against the frame. “You two were one’a th’ only good things left about this place. She…” Kain closes his eyes and slowly shakes his head, brushing a dirty lock of blonde hair from his face. It's hard, all of this. It never gets easier.

Even when he hears and smells the man, Ruiz doesn’t look up right away. As if part of him hoped if he didn’t see him he could imagine that he wasn’t there— that those footsteps he heard had actually been her. It’s brief, but— it still happens. He looks tired. Too tired to cry, too tired to scream and hit things. He’s one step from the edge, ready to fall over.

Bending down under the bed, he pulls out a shoe box and sets it down beside him, pulling the lid off and revealing his wife’s coveted stash of cigarettes. She had dipped into them for trade, but between that and coffee, those cigarettes had been her main vice. The main thing she traded for when needed.

And what she only traded away after seeing if a brand sucked. Like the Eclipse cigarettes that he’d tossed at Kain once before. Now… well… He pulls out an already opened pack and holds it out, in offer. “I still owe you for some things, I’m sure.”

And he wanted to smell the smell of her cigarettes. The ones she actually smoked, but he didn’t say that part.

“The dead don't need much,” Kain says in a hushed tone. “Shop’s closed on account of the apocalypse.” It takes Kain a moment to walk into the room, slowly drawing the door shut behind him as he does. The look in his eyes is troubling — troubled, too. He comes to conversational distance to Ruiz, blue eyes wandering the room for a long while before settling back down on him.

“You catholic?” Kain asks, no amusement in his voice when he does.

Mamá was, so that makes me one by association. I don’t practice anymore, though,” Ruiz responds, though he had some spiritual beliefs back in the day, due to his mother’s influence on him. One would not guess that the case due to the books that are piled on his bookshelf. A lot of science fiction, in both English and Spanish. One comic book that he’d opted not to give to Magnes, and instead he’d kept. The one that had been in Spanish.

Since Kain doesn’t take the cigarette, he taps one out and hangs it off his lip, fishing for the box of matches that Lynette had and lighting it up with a small inhale, which leads him to cough a little. He didn’t smoke.

But he wanted to smell it. It smelled like Lynette. He can hold it in his hand while it burns away and just… smell her. A while longer. “You didn’t strike me as the religious type, either.”

Kain shrugs. “Ah’ ain't, but mah momma was too. So,” he flashes a smile, “catholic guilt by association.” From there he moves to stand beside Ruiz, then comes to settle up against the wall with arms crossed over his chest.

He watches Ruiz play with the cigarette, then looks down at the floor. “You mind takin’ a confession? Ain't gonna be able t’find a priest out these parts.” Kain’s brows furrow together, frown creasing the corners of his mouth.

“Lord knows I have a few of those I should make someday,” Ruiz responds, watching the smoke curl off the end of the cigarette, the way it slowly fills the air. The ventilation isn’t great, but odds are it won’t be smoke inhalation that kills any of them. Not with the apocalypse breathing down their necks. Not with Vanguard. Not with the Virus. Not with everything they’d already lost. “It’s a good room for guilt.” Guilt and lost moments.

Cause the only confessions he’d ever made had been in this very room, to a woman he loved, not to God or anyone else. Not that he’d ever told her the biggest of his sins. No— he’d never told anyone in the Hub that one.

Kain swallows, audibly. “That mission we were on… Izzy went out of her mind. Set a bunch of children trapped in cages on fire.” The matter of fact tone Kain uses is colored by the guilt in his eyes. “Ah’ve watched enough people die t’feed Eddie’s ego…”

What he means by that isn't immediately clear. “Odessa didn't die of the virus,” is almost an incomprehensible string of words. He doesn't let there be enough of a pause to take it all in before he overcomplicates it. “Edward killed her, and he made me…” Kain looks away, “…he made me clean up the body.”

On the edge, an inch from falling over— and with a few words, that inch had been met. Ruiz’s hand tightens, the cigarette twisting in his fingers until it breaks apart, the still smoldering end falling to the metal floor until it burned away into embers. The twisted paper wrapped filter and tobacco falls to follow.

Once, he had been grateful that someone else had dealt with that body. That he hadn’t been forced to be the one to wrap her in a sealed bag and send her off, either in flames or into nothingness. Either way, it would have been too difficult for him. More difficult than most of the bodies he’d disposed of.

But he’d taken Lynette's and buried it, and only then understood he wished he could have seen to Odessa’s as well. That he wished he’d been able to say goodbye. Voice tight, eyes hinting at something darker than Kain’d ever really seen in him before, he asks one question, first. “What did you do with her?”

“Nothing good.” Is the only thing Kain says in response. “Dave Cardinal says he killed her because she was a threat. Now Ah’ don't right know what that means, but Ed’s had ol Davey boy spyin’ on us for years. Ah’ kept Edward’s secrets long enough… but if we’re all dead anyway, Ah’ ain't about t’keep ‘em to th’ grave.”

Fingers curling in the sleeves of his jacket, Kain furrows his brows and looks up to Ruiz. “She ain't never done nothin’ wrong, far’s Ah’d ever known. She didn't deserve what happened t’her. Same as your girl didn't deserve… what happened out there.”

Nothing good.

Fingers unclench and clench again, but Ruiz shakes his head— no, it’s not this man’s fault. It is on the one that killed her, the one who asked her to dispose of the body. The one who they had all trusted with their lives in many ways— he would not have been surprised at all if David Cardinal had been watching him. He always suspected that the man knew where he and Odessa had come from, what they had left behind.

After a moment, he stands up from his seat on the edge of the bed, dusting the remnants of the cigarette he crushed from his hands as he looks up at the taller man. “Find Edward. Get him to go to the incinerator.” The one they tended to use as a cell. He hopefully didn’t need to move the man they’d brought as a prisoner, but he knew another place in the disposal room to put him.

But him and Edward… “I need to have a word with him.”

Mention of the incinerator gets a raise of Kain’s brow. At first it looks like he might try and talk reason into Ruiz, but from Kain’s perspective the time for reason has long since ended. He leans away from the wall, looking from the floor to Ruiz and then over to the door.

“This ain't gonna just go away,” Kain warns Ruiz, but it's light and without conviction. “Just… whatever ya’ll do, make sure that bug-eyed bastard doesn't leave with us. Unless it's straight t’Hell.”

Straight to hell might be the plan, from the look in Ruiz’s eyes for a moment. But no, he doesn’t say that. And with a glance down at his wedding ring he might even have second thoughts when it comes down to it. But who knows with a man in mourning. Who knows what a man will do when pushed so far.

“He won’t be leaving with us. Even if I have to close the portal on him,” he mutters quietly, before moving to leave the room. “If you don’t want any part of this, I understand. I can go find him myself.” After he checks to see if the incinerator is empty, and to empty it if it isn’t. But he won’t force Kain to have anymore blood on his hands, assuming this goes badly.

“Ah’ve done enough killin’,” Kain admits in a hushed voice, “enough hurtin’ for a long time. But Eddie’s a menace. T’us, t’everyone. He stays here, that’s all th’ better. Ah’ ain’t gonna fault you for doin’ what’s right by you…” With that, Kain slowly begins to walk back towards the door to Ruiz’s room. He stops, though, at the door and turns around.

For a moment Kain is silent, regarding Ruiz with a haunted look. “Them ladies loved you, more’n anything else. Whatever you do…” his voice hitches in the back of his throat for a moment. “Whatever you do… make sure they’d still be able t’love you after you go’n do it.”

“I think you would be surprised,” Ruiz whispers quietly, before nodding to himself. There had been little he think he could do that would have lost the love of those two. But they also were no longer here. Now the world was just broken duets and a promise to leave this one behind, forever.

A promise he intended to keep. That one promise.

He has no idea what he might do, as he leaves the room behind, not even bothering to make sure the door is sealed. Theft had been one of the first ways to get exiled, and he doubted even with the world falling down around him that those who remained in the Hub would do such a thing.

He doesn’t stop until he gets to the incinerator, waving off anyone who tries to speak to him— and there he waits. Alone. As that sound in the back of his mind slowly creeps back from the fading haze of negation.

Ruiz is left a long while with his thoughts, with the echo of his breathing against the soot-covered walls of the incinerator chamber. There’s still a chair in here, tipped over on its side, where they’d restrained Munin after her capture. This means the distant scuffing of footsteps can be heard for quite a ways off before the source arrives.

Edward Ray’s approach to the incinerator door is a slow one, blue eyes wide but expression difficult to read. He looks to the chair tipped over on the floor, then up to Ruiz, and lets his attention linger on him for a moment. “Mateo, you wanted to talk to me?” Edward casually asks, as if something wasn’t dreadfully wrong with all of this.

When the blue eyed scientist steps into sight, Mateo looks up from where he’d been leaning, running his fingers over the ring around his neck. It didn’t do either of them any good to leave him alone with his thoughts, but he had been standing inside the incinerator, and had no immediately intention of leaving. The plan had been made to send Munin, Magnes and even Peter Petrelli to Vanguard to rescue the very thing that had gotten his wife killed trying to rescue. Less people at risk now, thankfully.

He’d would have needed to wait for his ability to come back from it’s negated haze before he could follow his orders, and it had just begun to. He could hear the gnashing of teeth in the back of his head, the way it crunched on bones, the sound that vaguely reminded him of wood going through a chipper and coming out the other end in pieces.

And considering the location, he heard fire, as well. The soft flickering of flames in the distance.

“Yeah. I wanted to talk about salvaging some batteries for the experiment with Ygraine. Some systems aren’t as important now, but we don’t have Lynette to recharge them anymore— and my ability takes electricity. Any attempt we do will need to be powered.” he had been thinking about it, asking Steve to drain as much non-essential electricity as possible and help them, but that— had not been why he called him in. It’s an excuse on top of a reason, one to come off the wall and get closer to the door.

We don’t have Lynette. The fact he said those words without emotion might be an indicator of how far he’s gone.

Edward remains in the doorway, ever the tentative mouse in this moment. “Last I checked there's no electricity in the incinerator room, Mateo. But I have a feeling this isn't about power.” Edward’s brows twitch. “Per se.”

Watching Mateo anxiously, Edward rests a hand on the door frame, as if that would keep him tethered there. “There isn't enough electricity left in the generators, or anywhere, to actually test your ability again. I said what the people needed to hear. What was reassuring.”

“The grim fact of the matter is that if Magnes and the others fail, that's it. We can try with John, but the odds aren't as good. He's just as apt to turn us over to the Vanguard in the hopes of saving his own skin. Though he… does have his uses.” Edward grimaces after phrasing it that way.

“I'll be honest with you, Mateo. It's not looking good for us. We've got exactly one shot at this, and… I don't think many of us are going to make it out alive.” Blue eyes search Ruiz. “If any of us do at all.”

“Just telling them what they need to hear,” Ruiz mutters quietly, as he runs fingers through his hair and keeps moving closer. “We should never have done as many tests as we did,” he adds quietly, knowing that it had cost them in energy and— other things. “I’m not even sure if I’m going to survive another test, much less the actual event that everyone’s counting on.” Everyone. Since he had to go and tell them.

But he understood. They needed people on board for the attack. His word that the odds were in their favor would not have been enough to have as many people risk going as did. Those people sacrificed themselves for— what?

“Why didn’t you just tell them the truth. Let them prepare for it— say goodbye to each other. Or were they going to riot and rip you apart if you did tell them?” That— he could understand. He had been half afraid that had been the direction it had been headed— until Peter Petrelli walked in with more people who now would have to fight to get to the front of the line.

“Sometimes the truth is worse than a lie,” Edward says flatly. “You can't un-learn the truth, Mateo. Sometimes that alone can tear you up inside. I've learned that sometimes… not knowing is better. Especially when survival is on the line.” Whose survival isn't immediately clear.

“Peter’s return might be just what we need to do this successfully. But I can't guarantee that, because I can hardly predict what Magnes will do from one moment to the next.” It doesn't sound like hyperbole.

Then, more intensely, Edward confesses something else. “The odds of your surviving another portal are less than ten percent. The myocardial infarction you suffered during the last test only weakened you. The next time will be pass or fail.”

And, grimly, Edward’s voice lowers. “And it's coming sooner than you think.”

Ten percent chance of survival. No. Mateo hadn’t suspected the odds were very much in his favor on that. Not since he first felt the pain in his chest. Not since Aislinn had sat down with them. Not since Shaw heard what he’d heard. None of them happen to be there anymore. But he couldn’t pretend that it might not happen again. That it might not be worse the next time it does. That the last and final attempt might very well kill him.

That even Edward can’t read Magnes might feel like a surprise, but no— it’s not. That kid is unpredictable at best.

“I promised Nette that I’d make it to the next world,” he whispers, as he reaches up and puts a hand on the other man’s arm, almost as if he’s seeking comfort, or giving it. “So I’ll just have to go for that ten percent.” His grip tightens, his eyes dip downward.

No. No they can’t un-learn the truth. Once it’s known, it’s eats away. It screams. Like the sounds fire creeping closer in the back of his head.

“Why did you kill Odessa?” he finally asks what he was holding in since the man arrived, hand staying firm and tight against the arm he took.

One of Edward’s brows twitch, throat working up and down slowly. It's clear that he's trying to figure something out, plot his way out of the rat maze he's found himself in. “Odessa is the one who designed the virus.” Matter of factly stated, without remorse or hesitation.

“She was Vanguard, and all of this was her fault. She lied to us all.” There's tension in Edward’s jaw, fingers on his hands curled anxiously into little fists at his side. “She didn't give me any other choice.”

"So was I." Ruiz exclaims, saying it outloud for the first time in— ever. He’d never dared to say it within the Hub, never even confessed it to his wife-to-be. Though he had considered it so many times. No, now he doesn’t care. Not in the least. He pulls on the arm, so that he can drag the man inside with him.

We had escaped.” Together. It had been too late to stop the virus, that had already started. “She had changed. She loved those children. She loved this place. This was the family she’d always been looking for, the purpose that he had made her believe working with them would give her. She would have never have put them at risk to Vanguard.”

Edward makes a noise of surprise as he's jerked into the room, losing his footing and tumbling to the floor. “Mateo!” Edward shouts, blue eyes wide. “She didn't change — couldn't. She was a liability, the longer she stayed here the higher the chance became that she would return to Volken!”

There's desperation in his eyes as he compiles a new series of facts against the grip at his arm. “It was only a matter of time before she betrayed us all! I know— I know she was important to you, but think about it for a moment. Think about everyone else. Think about the big picture.” Edward’s brows raise slowly, anxiously.

“The big picture is we’re all pretty much dead, right?” Ruiz responds as he lets go of the man’s arm, stepping back toward the door now. No, things aren’t going well at all. There’d probably been calculations for this, he knew it. He wondered what the percentage had been, but he doesn’t ask. All of them living on a tiny, miniscule hope that somehow he’ll be able to open that portal and get them to another place. A small hope that seems smaller every day. And he now knows he probably won’t be able to keep his promise.

But probably doesn’t matter.

“You didn’t understand her. Even if you suspected something, you didn’t have to kill her. You could have locked her up, kept her negated.” And he refuses the very idea that he might have had evidence.

Just as he refuses to believe that his faith and trust in his sister had been misplaced. She knew what she had done, better than anyone else.

Seeing Ruiz move toward the door, Edward stares wide-eyes for a moment as he calculates the odds of what's about to happen. “Mateo— Mateo.” Edward scrambles up to his feet, one hand clutching his wrist. “Mateo she wasn't taking her drugs, she was hiding things from us. She wasn't well!

He's growing whatever he can out now in the hopes of staying what he sees lining up. With a limping step toward the door, Edward calls out again. “Mateo you don't understand!”

Hand going to the heavy steel door, Mateo starts to close it, with him on the outside, but he doesn’t get all the way. He hesitates, as he looks at the limping man. It would be difficult at best for Edward to get past him, physically. “You don’t take yours either, so that’s not a very good argument there, Professor.”

His voice is cold, his jaw set firmly as he looks into the darkness. Almost as if he’s waiting for a reason not to do this— or perhaps a reason to. He’d never given any indication of this kind of potential situation— but then again when he came to the Hub he’d had the woman who he considered his sister.

And Lynette.

And now he has neither.

“What did you predict would happen if she hadn’t died?” he offers a question, voice deep and raw, almost as if he might have just finished yelling— More due to tightness of his throat muscles than overuse of his voice.

Edward’s stare at that closing door is tense, and it takes him a moment to flick his stare up to Mateo from it. “She'd betray us all, Mateo. She was delusional, and she was dangerous. You didn't see it, because you trusted her. You have to trust me, Mateo, I only have what's in all your best interests at heart.” But does he, really?

What had been the odds of Gillian’s successful rescue? Would Magnes and Rickham have even made it back alive if Kaylee hadn't snuck out? Did Edward know about the imprisoned children? The sniper? How much or how little did he base his calculations on? Where are his priorities?

“Mateo. Don't close that door.” Edward urges. “You need me.”

I did trust you,” Ruiz responds, holding the door open just enough to keep looking at him, but bracing his hand and foot on it to keep it from being pushed back open, either. “I trusted you with our lives. With my life, with the lives of everyone I still cared about.” Which hadn’t been many people. “And now Dess and my wife are both dead. So either you don’t see as much as you’ve led everyone to believe you do, or you knew.”

The door moves another half inch closed. “How exactly do I need you?”

Mateo!” Edward calls out, moving toward the door. He doesn't have an answer treat will satisfy him or stave off what is rapidly becoming inevitable. “Mateo things— things would be so much worse without me, you know that!” Again, lies through careful wording and omission. Worse
for who?

“Mateo you can't— ” The metal door slams shut as Edward approaches it, and the professor slouches up against the fire-blackened surface. “Mateo you can't do this. Mateo! Mateo I— you’ll never be able to make it out without me! You don't know where you need to be!”

With the door slammed shut, Ruiz leans back against it, closing his eyes as he listens to the muffled voice through the door. It’s not a full seal, so he can still hear him, yelling, still make out words. After a long moment, when one might wonder if he’d started to leave, he turns around and opens the small slat that allows air and words to come through. And allows him to make eye contact with those beady eyes once again.

“Where do I need to be?” The odds of him opening that door now that he’s closed it seem even smaller now than they were when he backed toward the door the first time. But he’s at least talking and not going to the switch.

Mateo!” Edward hits the door with an open palm only once. That's the time it takes him to realize further strikes against the door are futile. Breathing in deeply, Edward rests his forehead against the door with a thump. He's quiet for a moment, unsteady.

“You have to promise me. If I tell you… you have to get Kaylee out of here.” Of all the things Edward has asked of Mateo, of anyone in this whole tortured reality, this was what mattered most to him. “Kaylee needs to leave. She deserves a life.” No matter the cost, goes unsaid. But Mateo can feel it in his bones.

Maybe all of this had been about her.

“Promise me you’ll save her, and— ” Edward’s voice is absent for a moment. “Promise me.

All the excuses, all of the trust me’s didn’t change the winds of inevitability that seemed to be rushing toward the both of them. Ruiz could still hear that fire roaring in his head, louder and louder by the minute, calling to him, taunting him. His ability coming back fully. He hated that sound. Almost as much as he hated the man on the other side of that door. But that man had one request— and one that dampened the flames just a bit.


There had been few people in this place that he’d cared about. The woman he considered his sister, his wife, his wife’s best friend and Kaylee. Half because his sister had always been good friends with her, half because of who she was. How she was to him. She deserved better.

It’s an easy promise to make. Because she had already been one of the only grown adults he’d wanted to save. “If I can only get one person through, it will be her. I promise.”

The probability of that sentiment is weighed against Ruiz’s nature, against all of Edward’s collective knowledge of him as a person, of all the deeds he’s done and the choices he’s made. Mateo is a known quantity to Edward. He’s someone he feels he understands, can count on to be predictable. The promise, therefore, is worth its weight in gold.

“210 Central Park West, the Deveaux Building…” is Edward’s answer. “You need to be on the rooftop. Of the sites I scouted across the city, it’s the only one with a higher than twenty percent chance of affording a safe arrival based on Liz’s knowledge of her home timeline. Manhattan isn’t… in great shape there either.” Ruiz can head Edward shift against the door.

He’s gone quiet.

210 Central Park West. Ruiz repeats it in his head a few times. The Deveaux Building, rooftop.

That might be impossible for the whole group— part of him hopes that not everyone will decide to come with them. But he knows even as he pictures the sheer distance they have to travel, how many stairs they will have to go up— that they will lose a lot of their number if Vanguard happens to spot them. They may have taken out the sniper, but there’s so many. And he knows some of them all too well.

“We’ll get there. Somehow,” he states simply, even if he knows that the odds would not be with them. And that they’re both hanging on to that tiny chance, the one that tells them it might work. The only chance they have left before they both fall off the edge.

The sliding door that allows their eyes to meet stays open a minute longer, though neither of them are actually looking through it. Ruiz’s eyes shift to the switch. That crackle of fire overpowers all his thoughts, even if he knows that fire isn’t really there. “I’ll get your family out of here. Which is more than you did for mine. Good bye, Edward.”

The tone of his voice carries the tension that has boiled up inside him through the air, as he reaches up to push the steel slat closed again. Then, his hand comes up to the button beside the door that reads: Ignition.

Mateo— ”

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