Time Has Inertia


vf_elisabeth_icon.gif bf_magnes_icon.gif vf_ruiz_icon.gif

Scene Title Time Has Inertia
Synopsis In far more ways than anyone can imagine.
Date January 17, 2012

Elmhurst Hospital

The last few days, ‘Javier De Santos’ has been a resident of the Elmhurst Hospital. Upon arrival from his train, it became quickly apparent to a few doctors that he’d been in the midst of a heart attack. After being admitted, they ruled it a coronary artery spasm which caused his heart attack, rather than a blockage, and his malnutrition and other conditions seemed to worry them just as much. He opted to be placed on Negaxon and had been in recovery since then.

He’d had a few visitors. Some who stayed much longer than others. But today he had another set of visitors in the form of the two who had appeared one day and changed his entire life.

It felt like a lifetime ago. It hadn’t even been all that many months.

Propped up in his hospital bed, he has a book that someone had brought him propped in front of him, rather than have the TV on, but a pair of headphones resting on his head played music for him. He had an IV, a heart monitor, but no oxygen. The board against the wall showed he was on room air, and under observation and a special diet.

She'd known that his heart didn't sound right after the first attempt. That the second, more intense attempt has taken a physical toll on Ruiz is not shocking. And Elisabeth feels more than a little responsible for the state of his health. She remained at the hospital to make sure that he was stabilized before even getting any sleep the first night they were here. And she's made a point of checking in at least briefly every day. But today she figures it might be time to really talk to him.

Knocking on the door gently before coming in is merely politeness. "You feeling up to some visiting?" she asks from the doorway before fully entering. Like everyone else who came through the portal, she's still looking rough and a bit wan. Exhausted, certainly — there hasn't been enough time yet to catch up on sleep. And there will never be enough time to really say all the things in her heart to this man. "We thought maybe if you felt up to talking, we'd actually stick around for a bit this time," she offers with a small smile.

Magnes isn't sure what to say, how can he be sure what to say? So many people lost something, someone, because he offered them hope, because, in his mind, he convinced Elisabeth that there was room for hope.

He leans against the wall when they enter, wearing a white button up with a black tie, some blue jeans, and his black Converse. He nods, "Hey, Ruiz." but he can't say much else at the moment. There's guilt in his eyes, his tone, the aftermath of his actions still weighing deep on his mind, heavy on his shoulders.

His heart rate sounds much better now, thankfully. It had been skipping around like a scratched record, but now it seemed steady and slow. Ruiz looked up at the two who entered. He hadn’t really remembered much about when they had visited before, he’d been out of it. The only visit he really had been conscious for had been the one when someone gave him the book. He looked tired and worn, but so did all of them. Closing the book, he set it on the food tray at the side, where a plate and bowl of soup sat empty. Most people wouldn’t like hospital food, but it had been far better than what the Hub had been able to scrounge together. It might as well have been a feast.

Removing the headphones, Liz can hear some classical piano music playing as he leaves it running. “I’m better than I was.” They haven’t shaved him, so his beard has grown out`and he hasn’t done it himself either. In fact he was considering keeping it, though likely trimmed. “Did everyone who made it through end up okay?” He’d known that at least Liz and Ygraine had been injured fairly badly. They had only saved a fifth of those that had been in the Hub. But it was better than saving no one at all.

Even if he wished at least a few more specifically had made it.

Listening to his heart for herself, ignoring the monitors while she seeks out the more subtle sounds within his chest itself, Elisabeth closes her eyes for a long moment. Then she nods slightly, her expression easing a bit from the tightness that was still evident. She looks at him and says quietly, "We're all recovering. Ygraine's in a sling for a bit, I'll be limping a little for a few days. The thing they were most worried about is infection, so a bunch of meds. Uhm… As far as I know, Ling's doing okay too. I figure Kaylee will be sticking close." She shrugs a little and moves to sit down next to the bed with him.

"Mateo, I'm… so sorry." Her words are a quiet acknowledgment of his loss, but more… they are an apology from the woman who feels responsible for the fact that Lynette died. It doesn't really absolve her that they all knew the risks. They weren't combatants. "I don't know how much it will eventually help, but you saved a hell of a lot of people. And they're all very grateful." She hesitates and then adds softly, "We're very grateful, too." Because Ruiz didn't have to believe them or attempt that madness.

Magnes nods, and then lowers his head for a few moments. "I…" he starts to say something, then stops, moving to take a seat in one of the chairs against the wall. He watches the two, probably far more quiet than Elisabeth has ever seen him in any particular situation.

Silence can be deafening, but from Magnes it's particularly so, because it's a rare sight to see him without a constant stream of chatter and noise.

There’s the relief when he learned that everyone who had made it through had survived. The hardest thing had been to hold it open, to watch as… the last few people who hadn’t gone through died when Hana had moved between him and the new host for Kazimir. He thinks he’d been the only one to see that. Ruiz didn’t think anyone wanted to know what they had left behind in that dying world.

As she apologizes, he shakes his head. He doesn’t look as if he understands what she’s apologizing for right away, but then he looks down at the ring hanging from his neck. They’d given that back last night. “I knew what I was getting into. Edward had said another attempt would likely kill me.” Part of him wished it had, but… “I should be good in a few days. We can always try again. For you two at least.”

Nope. That's where she draws the line. Elisabeth shakes her head immediately. "No. We are not going home at the expense of your life, Mateo." She couldn't live with that responsibility. "We won't give up. But not that way." She meets his eyes with her own, and she says softly, "Getting you here… it was worth that risk if you decided you wanted to take it. But … despite its flaws, ''this world is a good one. You dying opening another portal after coming so damn far… I couldn't live with that on my conscience."

She doesn't even have to look at Magnes as she says it; they were both unwilling to risk Mateo again for their own selfish gain.

"I was given the credentials I need to join an applied research lab. I plan to learn how to create a portal using a combination of science, technology, and my ability, or at least find a means to communicate with our world." Magnes says as if scientific breakthroughs aren't even a question, he's going to get them done, because they have no choice. "You've done enough, and if we did open another portal, we might open one that lets Kazimir through. When we do it this time, it's going to be in a controlled environment, and not risking anyone's life."

After coming so damn far. Ruiz doesn’t say it, but there’s a moment when he looks as if he wishes they would have said yes, they would try again. Because this world had things he wanted, but not the thing he wanted most of all. Instead, he nods after a moment and looks toward Magnes. “Those ladies seemed to know a lot about us. They made sure I didn’t skip the hospital by setting me up with an appointment here.” They’d known where to find them, what they needed, even how many there were and what they looked like.

So much about them it might almost have been scary, but he’s grateful, nonetheless. Even if he wishes they would have arrived under different circumstances. Or more specifically with someone that hadn’t made it.

“I hope you guys make it home. I overheard that you were pregnant, congratulations to you both. At least this is a safer world to have children in.” He’d been horrified when Dirk had passed that memo around, thinking of their medical situation. Babies, pregnancy, labor, all of it dangerous and likely to leave at least a good percentage of mothers and babies dead.

He left out that he envied them, a little, but he didn’t have to say that.

"Tamara's pretty amazing that way," Elisabeth comments drily. The seer knows some people will just ignore their own health to help others. "I had an immediate appointment for stitches and an OB. Plus the name of a therapist who specializes in PTSD, apparently. So… " She rolls her eyes a bit. She didn't miss his expression when they refused his offer, though, and she reaches out to touch his arm. "Mateo… we aren't giving up. We're just not willing to burn you out and kill you trying either. We will keep working on it. And if… " She hesitates. "If it's something you want, you're welcome to continue on with us. I can't promise what we'll find — or that we'll ever really get back to our own world. But at least we know there are worlds to get to." It's the only thing she's currently clinging onto.

Clearing her throat, she shrugs a little about the congratulations. "Thanks," she replies quietly. "It's hard to feel… anything but worry about it all right now," she admits. "But I figure that's to be expected." Even when she figured it out, she hadn't been willing to tell anyone for the same reasons Ruiz had been horrified. "Honestly, Ruiz… I came to ask you what we can do for you. There are no good words for what we've all seen and experienced. But … I don't want to just have everyone land here and just cut people loose in a whole new world where they don't even know what to do. It just seems wrong to expect everyone to be able to cope like that. Do you want us to stay in contact with you?"

"We'll make it home, I don't care if I have to learn to stare into 5th dimensional space itself until I find our home, we'll make it home." Magnes says, sounding determined, then starts to look around. "I kind of want hospital apple juice." he idly notes, as it's been a while since he's been in a regular hospital. "Anyway, yeah, I'm around if you still want to talk."

He's quiet for a long moment, then says, "I knew her in my world. We all set up a group house together." The 'her', he assumes, Ruiz will figure out.

“Yeah, there was a therapist in mine too,” Ruiz responds quietly, leaving out that his had been a grief counselor. Something he no doubts needed, but not something he would probably show up for, either. But she probably had known that, cause she never set an appointment. Some people were just too stubborn. “I’ll be fine. Once I recover I’ll figure out what to do.” He didn’t know if he would follow what was in the packet, or if he would do what he’d been considering since he read what happened to him.

“She’s here too,” he responds to Magnes’ words, looking over at her. No, he didn’t have to even try to explain who he meant. “According to my packet we were married.” Were. “Might have been better if she hadn’t known me here.” Then he could try to meet her, he wanted to meet her. But could he? Did he have any right to? And could he do it so soon. “Different worlds are funny things. Here, I died. And it happened on the exact same day.” The day he’d lost her in his world, she lost him in this.

Different worlds were funny things. Only he didn’t sound like he found it funny at all.

Elisabeth goes very still for a long moment. The reference to She doesn't require an explanation. And the blonde winces at the information that this version of Ruiz died here that same day. "Jesus," she breathes softly. Time has inertia. She's always hated it when Richard said it, but … she also knows it's true. She's seen it too many times… even in Richard Cardinal himself, who died twice on January 16. Elisabeth's "deaths" on November 8. So many other things.

"I'm … Mateo, I don't even know what to say to that." She looks down at her hands, and then back up at him. He has to be considering it. She knows she did. She knows Magnes did, obviously! "I don't know if there's a right and a wrong answer to what you're thinking about doing. God knows… meeting Cardinal in your Hub…" She trails off.

"I will tell you this much, though," she tells him softly. "Seeing him look at me and not seeing in his eyes the knowledge, the history, the emotion that ties us together? It tore out my guts every time he looked at me. You do what you need to, whichever way that goes. But if you want to talk? I've been there."

"This isn't at all what you're going through, but I want to tell you a story." Magnes decides, rather than give outright advice. He places both hands on the arms of the chair, then takes a deep breath. "In my world, me and Elaine, well, we had a nice relationship for a while, but it wasn't built on a good foundation. We were great friends, but I made a lot of mistakes, I kept choosing other things over her, and she was incompatible with the life I wanted to lead. Ultimately, she broke up with me."

He lets that sink in for a moment, because of course there's a second part to this story. "And then I went to your world. I saw the familiar face of your Elaine, but… she was different, like Elisabeth, I knew she was different. More wide eyed, more innocent, she had this sort of hunger and desire for the world that I never quite saw in my Elaine, even though they are the same people in many ways too."

"But it was like, our chemistry was so different, it's a completely different relationship, with a completely different girl. And yet it's familiar at the same time." He smiles, as clearly he's happy with things, and locks eyes with Ruiz. "I didn't want the relationship I had with the Elaine from my world back, beyond being friends. She's good with Quinn. But the difference, yet comforting familiarity, of the Elaine I'm with now… I'm happy with that, because I wasn't holding onto the idea that I was rebuilding the same relationship."

Now, finally, he does manage to come around to something that resembles advice. "If you're going to do what I think you're thinking, you have to do it while being okay with the fact that you're pursuing something very different from what you had. Different, but familiar."

Holding up a finger, he adds, "I've met two Lynettes already, and I can say that, yeah, they're pretty similar, but definitely not the same."

Of all the people to give him good life advice, Ruiz had not expected it to be this young man who made excited sounds while trying to cross dimensions in a garbage disposal room. But he supposed, he’s the only one here with experience on dating two women in different realities. “Yeah. You— you’re right.” They would be different, possibly incompatibly so. “And the timing would be bad. I just lost my Lynette and she just lost her… me.” Not even a week ago, in the grand scheme of things.

He needed to mourn and he’s sure she needed to as well. “I’ll let you know if I need anything,” he responds, leaning over to grab a cellphone that’s resting on the bedside table. Someone had dropped it off. “But don’t feel bad about what we did. It didn’t happen the way any of us would have liked, no, but… we saved what? Thirty… five people from a doomed world?” He knew all of them by name, because he’d been living with them for years. He knew all their faces.

And he wasn’t counting himself in that.

Elisabeth can't help the small smile she offers Ruiz. They will all live with both the feelings that come with having saved people as well as the guilt of not having been able to do more. And they'll all have to find their own ways to cope. It doesn't hit her until he says the words out loud, though…

"36," she whispers, her face paling even more, if that's possible given that they've all lived underground. She looks literally lightheaded, feverishly doing a mental headcount. "Counting all of us… we saved 36," she chokes out.

And then she's off the chair like a shot, her hand over her mouth as she bolts for Ruiz's bathroom off the hospital room. The sound of retching is harsh and interspersed with even harsher sobs, but it's the bass rumble of sound that rolls through the room from the woman doing the retching that might be more alarming. It begins as a hum, builds just enough to sound almost like an earthquake, and then holds there at a steady rumble while Elisabeth loses her composure in the bathroom.

It appears time does, indeed, have inertia.

"Umm…" Magnes sits there as Elisabeth goes to the bathroom, staring at Ruiz for an awkward moment, then back to the door. "I wonder if Elaine is gonna start doing that."

The rumbling in the room worries him more than the puking. In the Hub they had gotten used to that. And he’d cleaned up much of it, too. Ruiz looks in that direction before handing his phone over to Magnes. “Write down the number and add yours if you have one already— if not send me a message when you do. And have Liz do it as well.”

He wanted to stay in contact with them, at the very least, but… “I’m considering leaving. I’m not sure I should stay in New York, but I plan to talk to people before I go.” And come back if he figures out whatever it is he needs to figure out.

Like how to live in a world where she exists but he probably shouldn’t be with her. Even if he’d promised his her that he’d find her again.

The water running in the bathroom sounds for just a couple minutes, and when she comes back out, Elisabeth looks shaky. She's blotted the tears from her face, but there's a fragility to her that is rarely visible. "I'm sorry… I didn't… " She waves it off, unable to explain why she hadn't expected it. Or at least unwilling to. "I picked up a disposable cell today. I'll put my number in for you," she tells Ruiz in a subdued tone. "I can't blame you for wanting to get out of the city," she admits to him. So many memories here. "Stay off the radar just as much as you can. If Pinehearst gets their hands on you, I shudder to even imagine what might happen, Mateo." She's not even joking; the one thing she remembers about Pinehearst from the stories told by those who came in 2019 and her own experiences is that we do not want to fuck around with Arthur Petrelli.

"I will say this…" Magnes stands up to first take the phone, then write his number down, before putting the new one in. "For as different as your Lynette was, due to circumstance, the divergent points aren't so significant for her, I don't think… At the end of the day, you both ended up together in two different worlds."

"But you're right, you both need to mourn. But don't give up hope that things could work at some point, either, if that's still what you want after time passes." He hands the phone back, and smiles. "You should come over for Christmas and stuff. I always do holidays really big."

Two worlds where they’d somehow found each other and fallen in love. And lost each other all the same. “Maybe I’ll come over and sing. And I’d like to meet your kids, at least,” he responds with a small smile. Even if he’s envious of the new life that they would have, he still would love to meet them, to know that he’d saved two more along with those thirty-five.

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