lynette4_icon.gif ruiz_icon.gif

Scene Title Us
Synopsis Once they find their way home, Lynette and Mateo find out what they still have.
Date February 28, 2019


It took a long time to get home. Given that no one could be sure which Mateo and which Lynette made it to that rooftop— or how much of either of them— SESA was left with more questions than answers. But, with an agreement that no one would tell the public about their experience, they were allowed to return home. It was easy to agree to; who would even understand it, let alone believe it.

After reuniting with the children and her father, eventually everyone found a pillow to fall asleep on. It was an exhausting enough day to make it easy. Except for Lynette. The bed was too empty, her mind was too quiet, and the memory of watching Mateo fade away was too fresh. And yet, there he was. On the couch.

She tried to be quiet as she came down the hall. She had vague thoughts about coffee, but she didn't get past the doorway. With her robe wrapped around her, she leans against the wall, looking across the room at him. Dual urges pull at her— one to retreat back to the room and one to go to him— but indecision keeps her still. Stuck.

Unsure who exactly may have stopped in the doorway, Mateo sits up from where he'd been staring at the ceiling unable to sleep. It might have been one of the kids, so he had a cover story for why he was sleeping on the couch already rising to his mouth, until he saw that the figure in the door was too tall to be anyone except who it was. At first he seemed to relax, then he grimaces.

Because he knew that this woman, did not need the excuse. Or maybe she did. He wasn't sure if he should be sleeping here at all. While they were satisfied with not letting the government dig too deep into what happened to them, he didn't know how much she would accept that…

That he was still her husband at all.

His mother had said that there was no way back, and she was right. There was no way to go back to what was.

"Can't sleep either?" he contents himself with asking, after perhaps too long of a pause.

"No," Lynette says with a heavy sigh. Pushing off the door frame, she crosses over to the couch, sliding into place next to him. "It feels strange." So much of this does, really. It would be easier to list things that didn't feel strange. "Everything's over. We're here, the kids are here… I keep waiting for someone to knock on the door and tell us we're still running." She pushes a hand through her hair, but it falls right back into place.

"The kids don't seem to have that problem," she comments with a light chuckle. They all dropped into sleep like they haven't had it in years. She credits her father for helping them feel at home while they were… wherever they were.

"They have had a month here already— more for Manuel," Mateo responds quietly, shifting until he's sitting up more in the couch. He doesn't notice his own fidgeting, but he's playing with the wedding ring on his finger again. It was his. And not his. All at the same time. Then again in some ways his body felt like his and not his all at the same time.

Everything did.

"I imagine they had sleepless nights when they first arrived." He wished he would have been there for them through all of it. There's so many things he wanted to ask both the kids, but he didn't get the chance to yet and he didn't know if it would be in their best interests to answer such questions anyway.

"Probably," Lynette says, looking over at him. Her expression is curious. She has more things on her mind than the children, although they are definitely part of it. Jeremy had already been having them speak to the counselors downstairs, so she imagined that they were all doing a lot better than she and Mateo. Her eyes move to his hands, watching him turn his ring around his finger.

"I can't sleep alone anymore," she says, the words tumbling out of her before she has a chance to think about it. But once it's out, it's out and she looks up at him again. "I know this is… odd, all of this. I don't know what we should be doing." There wasn't exactly a guidebook for their situation. They had to find their way on their own.

But then, they always had.

Those poor counselors probably thought the kids were were making stuff up, unless the government had them also sign papers, which he wouldn't be surprised if they'd sent their own out to make sure that those who arrived had the support they needed. Ruiz remembered how hard it had been when they arrived in the first world. He thought many of his fellow travelers had sought assistance in coping. He hadn't.

And that had eventually led to him going to a beach intent of disappearing forever. A place and time he remembered twice over. The beach where he met Eve for the first time.

"I— I could join you," he says after some hesitation. "If you want." His toying hand drops away from the ring that's both his and not his all at once. He wanted to jump up and hold her, just as he wanted to join her when they went to sleep. All of him did.

But he still hesitated.

His hesitation seems to feed into her own, and Lynette's reply is long in coming.

"Not if it makes you uncomfortable," she says, leaning back on the couch and looking up at the ceiling. Someday it might actually hold answers for her. Not today. So she looks back to him instead. "I don't know how to mourn you or if I even should be, since you're… here. But I can't shake the feeling that I lost something. I'm sorry." Sorry, because she doesn't know how she should feel and sorry because he's the only person who ever made her feel safe, but he lost something, too. "I'm being selfish."

She was always good at that.

Standing up, she smoothes out her robe before she looks over at him. "Do you want some coffee? Or… something?"

There's a slow nod from Mateo, because he understands. He does know how to mourn losing her, but he didn't like what it did to him when he did. It had taken Eve to push him in the direction that he had avoided for over a year, and her to slowly start to repair the damage that losing her had done to him. And that he had done to himself as well, really.

But he also didn't know how to mourn something that he didn't technically lose. Not completely.

Hand moving from his own, he stands as well, socked feet hitting the floor. "That would be nice. Feels like a long time since I've had good coffee." Two worlds ago.

Or a month or so ago. That month he didn't actually experience, though, so he wasn't sure it counted. "Or at least I remember a lot of bad attempts at coffee." Cause he did. And he's sure she did too. He wondered if her memories were as muddled as his own.

"Bad attempts at a lot of delicious things," Lynette says, a soft laugh following. Those worlds weren't easy for her, but it's easier to look back and find the humor in it now, on this side of things. But also because she can also look back and remember those years filled with him. "Dad brought some coffee up with him, so it'll be much better."

She reaches to take his hand once he's up, the movement coming easy, naturally. In every life, it came easy. They're halfway across the living room before she realizes and she look at their hands, and then at him again. While it's clear she doesn't know if that's the right thing to do or if he's ready or not, she also doesn't pull away.

It feel like her hand was made to fit in his.

Her fingers tighten on his once they reach the kitchen, a brief gesture of reassurance before she lets go to start pulling out cups.

There was no going back to what was.

But that didn't mean loving each other just stopped. Ruiz looked down where their hands fit together, much in the same way that she did, and his expression actually relaxed, fingers twining naturally as if they had always been there. Only when they let go, does he feel that absence again, but this time not as bad as it had been a few minutes before.

"We could skip the coffee and go to bed," he offers as the cups hit the counter. "To sleep. We both need it. And we don't need to be alone." They still had a lot to figure out before he would feel completely comfortable, conversations to have, but he knew that his problem had been much the same as hers.

He hadn't felt comfortable without her beside him, without the smell of her, without the warmth near him, without those fingers that entwined his hand near him.

Lynette turns around at his suggestion, leaning against the counter as she looks at him. Her gaze is searching, trying to figure out if he's saying what he wants or what she wants. In the end, she looks down and takes his hands again. Because coffee is less appealing all of a sudden.

"When she— when I," she says, the memories still feeling both like hers and not, "looked into the infinite, all I saw was you and me. Over and over. Mirrored more times than I could count. It is always you and me. I wouldn't have it any other way. But if you're not… ready, I don't want you to do anything if you're not comfortable. Even just sleep." She adds the last with a crooked smile. Tired, but crooked.

As an answer, Ruiz moves closer and just wraps his arms around her, closing his eyes tightly. She had said that she didn't think she could do this without him, that she didn't want to be alone, but no, he knew very well he could not do this without her.

Maybe she felt the same way about him, that the memories, the merger of minds, the salvaging of what pieces of their life they could piece back together, it didn't matter. She was still her, and he was still him. Two branches of the same tree, that somehow grew together. "Believe me. There's nothing I've ever wanted more than to spend every moment I can with you."

With all of her, any of her. And he knew the other him, the one the other part of her had been married to had felt the same. He could remember that part clearly.

When his arms move around her, Lynette lets out a relieved sigh. Her eyes close, too, and she puts her hands on his face. Her forehead touches his and she lingers there for a long moment. This was home. Their children safe and them in each other's arms. "That sounds alright to me," she says, attempting to sound amused, but her voice is too raw. Her lips press against his temple, then his jaw before she leans her cheek against his. "Will you come to bed with me, my darling?" she whispers to him. The invitation includes sleep, but also opens the door for something more. Now, or later, but it seems important to her that he knows where she stands.

Once she felt his arms around her, there was no question about where they were, not for her.

Every him, every her. She has memories of falling in love with him over and over. And every moment she had with him was worth any hardship they've faced. Or will face. Even if she only had one moment with him, it would be worth it.

As if he were reading her mind, Ruiz speaks up quietly, warm breath against her cheeks, "A little bit of happiness is better than a lifetime of anything else." Because without her? It would be anything but happiness. He smells distinctly like him, with some added nuances. Everything she remembered seemed to remain, but there was just more now.

And without another word he pulls back, to twine fingers through hers and begin to pull them toward the bedroom. "There was something I wanted to show you," he adds on as he leads the way, all of his doubts apparently washed away.

"Yes," Lynette says to the words that seemed to echo her thoughts. There were some moments before Kaylee melded them where she can remember feeling nothing but a gossamer film between them on that rooftop. Now she wonders if he had felt the same. But she doesn't ask, not tonight. Tonight she smiles when he takes her hand and follows him when he tugs her along.

His words get a chuckle, something teasing in the sound, but that she also leaves unspoken. Instead, she slides into step next to him, her hand tightening on his. "What is it?" she asks, even though he's taking her there as they speak.

As soon as they get inside, Ruiz extracts himself from her hand so that he can reach down and pull off his shirt. Not one of Mateo's sweaters, but a simple polo shirt instead, one of her husbands still, but perhaps he found the sweaters too personal to use himself. Or maybe the part of him that was Ruiz was more accustomed to the cold than her husband had been.

He'd lived in New York a lot longer. Under the polo was a second shirt, plain white, an undershirt, which he also pulled off with it, revealing a scarred chest she knew, very well. But it was almost as if both of the versions were standing right there. Many of the scars were from one world, others were from another, some crossed unnaturally in ways that wouldn't seem possible.

And he still had the bullet scar from last year, something fully, completely, the Mateo of this reality. And those rings, all four of them, dangled from around his neck. "I noticed when I changed clothes. I remember where I got most of them."

He still had Odessa from another world's broken watch around his wrist, and the maze tattoo still spiraled around. But it too had changed, slightly. It now had two paths that would lead to the center instead of one.

Lynette shuts the door behind them and leans back against it while he starts to remove layers. It doesn't take her long to see what he meant to show her, and she stand up off the door to come over. Her fingers brush over the injection scar on his neck, then the bullet scar, then down to the tattoo on his arm. She tilts her head and finds that she knows both paths through the maze perfectly well.

After a moment, she pulls her robe off, tank top and shorts exposing enough for him to see which scars of hers disappeared and which remained. She went through a war— she didn't come out of it unscathed, but now she looks like someone who led a gentler life. A few linger, but like him, she appears to be a mix of her two selves. "I wish I could explain how this happened," she says, reaching back over for his hands, "but I'm just so glad I still have you."

"We still have each other," Ruiz responds quietly, almost accenting her sentiment, amplifying it rather than just adding to it. Many pieces of them, like fragments of a puzzle broken apart and put back together. Some of the pieces were different, but the picture was still somehow mostly the same.

Because if they had nothing else, they had their love for each other. In every world. Even the one where they had almost been enemies. One day he would tell her about that, if she hadn't seen it herself. He did not know how many paths she had gone down in the Garden. He just knew that he had been in all of them.

And he couldn't imagine every him not loving every her.

His hand trails down one of her scars, the marks that differentiated the different, but same pictures, fingertips giving just the smallest amount of pressure, as if trying to memorize them. "We get to relearn each other all over again."

Whatever tension was left in her melts away at his touch. Her hands move to his hair, fingers flexing against his scalp as she steps in toward him. Against him. She wasn't sure how he'd feel about their situation, about her, about them, and she wanted to tread lightly because he's always felt a little bit like magic to her and she didn't want to break whatever spell it was that let her have him.

His touch changes everything. His words. He's hers again and she's his. And she shows it with her arms around him, her fingers sliding along his back, and her lips pressing to his. If they're going to relearn one another, she knows how she wants to begin.

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