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the devil's right there in the details

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She shouldn’t be, but she’s genuinely surprised when Noah is brought in for questioning.

She’s finished her own session, after what felt like days of debrief (but was actually only one very late night and very early morning) in which Agent Christopher gently but relentlessly mined every moment she could of Lucy’s life with her mother, and it feels like she’s finally come up for air. Agent Christopher had ended their meeting, told her to stay close, and then disappeared again behind the closed door of the office about half an hour ago.

Which just left her and Wyatt and Rufus hanging out in the hallway, not speaking while they wait for what’s next. They’d apparently waited for her all night, and she’s so grateful for them, even though she can barely make eye contact with either man.

At least the hard part is over, right? They know, and Mason and the national security agencies know, and she hasn’t been kicked off the project for being an unwitting sleeper agent for Rittenhouse.

That’s what her mother wanted, isn’t it? For Lucy to play both sides, even if she hadn’t known it at the time? Because it’s the only thing that makes any sense. Surely her mother knows that secretly being used was—and is—the only way Lucy could ever contribute to Rittenhouse. Carol can’t possibly believe that after months of fighting both Flynn and Rittenhouse, Lucy would just suddenly give up all the things she stands for and switch sides.

Her mom can’t really believe Lucy is capable of that, because if she does, Lucy doesn’t know what that says about her. She thought she was the kind of person who helps people and preserves history, but then she’s apparently also the kind of person who helps Flynn with his mission of destruction in the future. How could she also be someone who would help Rittenhouse control everything and everyone? That can’t be her, can it? What does it say about her that she doesn’t know?

Lucy hadn’t thought Carol was capable of the things she's done, of being enmeshed so completely in Rittenhouse, but she is. And if she is, and her biological father is, and Lucy is Rittenhouse royalty, does that mean she’s predestined? Is it literally in her blood? Who is she supposed to be now?

These feelings, these doubts, they’re not something she can talk about yet. She’d only shared the bare bones of events with Wyatt and Rufus, who have taken it incredibly well, all things considered. But they’d been quiet, and maybe even pitying. Lucy can barely face her own reflection, let alone the questioning faces of maybe the only real family she has left.

She can feel Wyatt’s eyes on her, and she wonders how much of what she’s thinking is showing on her face. But she can’t bring herself to look up yet, at least not until she hears doors slam open in the distance and boots on the cement floor, because even in the midst of all the chaos since the Mothership was stolen and she came back with news of her mother’s duplicity, most of the activity has been on the floor protecting the Lifeboat, and not coming from outside.

So she’s not sure who she’s expecting to see come around the corner of the hallway, but it sure as hell isn’t Noah, surrounded by agents in suits and two men in tactical gear.

It’s a shock to see him here in this otherwise very secret place, but it’s not just his presence that sends a jolt of unease through her--it’s that he seems so unsurprised. He’s not looking around Mason Industries headquarters like he’s never seen it before; he doesn’t look indignant at being arrested by government agents. He looks bored, and smug, and totally unsurprised.

“Oh man,” Rufus mutters from behind her. “That can’t be good.”

Just before he’s escorted into the room Christopher is holed up in, Noah locks eyes with her. There’s nothing there--none of the intimacy that had made her so uncomfortable, none of the warmth that filled his eyes around her, absolutely no emotion at all. They’re empty, and Lucy is suddenly terrified.

Because this isn’t just Agent Christopher covering all her bases. There’s a reason they brought Noah in, and a reason they’re doing it now. It’s clear he’s a part of this somehow.

And considering how well her mother seemed to know him, how much she approved of him as a partner for Lucy, it’s not hard to figure out how.

“Oh my god,” Lucy breathes, and she can feel the beginnings of a truly powerful anxiety attack gathering around her lungs.

Then suddenly Wyatt is beside her, a warm hand sliding over her elbow and up her arm. “Take it easy. We don’t know why he’s here yet.”

“Yes we do,” she replied, swallowing and reaching for control. “Yes we do.”

A few minutes later, Agent Christopher comes out of the office, quietly shutting the door so that they can’t see into it. “Lucy, I’d like to talk to you for a moment.”

“She stays here,” Wyatt speaks up, confident and completely overbearing, and Lucy could honestly kiss him for it. “We need an update anyway.”

Christopher glances at Wyatt briefly and away, as if dismissing him wouldn’t be worth the effort. “While you and I were in our meeting last night, Mason was sifting through the Rittenhouse data, looking for more members with enough evidence against them to be indicted. Now, so far there’s no mention of Noah Russo--”

Lucy latches on to that, hoping desperately that even an unwanted relationship wasn’t a lie. “So he’s not a part of Rittenhouse?”

Christopher holds up a hand. “Noah Russo isn’t, but…Lucy, I asked Connor to use his program to look into Noah on the off chance he was connected to your mother through more than your broken engagement. It turns out that the name is an alias. As far as we can tell, Noah Russo didn’t exist before about five years ago.”

Lucy closes her eyes briefly. “That’s three years before we started dating. Well, him and me--the other me. This timeline’s Lucy.”

Christopher nods. “That’s what he told you, and that’s what you told us, but we’d never met him before, and we can’t find anyone outside your family’s circle who can corroborate that.”

Lucy shakes her head. “No, that’s insane. It doesn’t make sense that he isn’t--he’s a doctor, he works at St. Mary’s. He treated Rufus’ gunshot wound. He had to go to medical school, he’d have a license on file with the state--”

“All of those documents can be fabricated,” Wyatt interrupts grimly. “Or obtained legally, particularly if his identity is solid.”

“It is,” Christopher confirms. “Lucy, it’s very well done. These kinds of covers are hard to come by and are very expensive. It’s hard to believe he’d have the kind of connections and resources on his own to acquire something like this. It would be an incredible coincidence if he wasn’t bankrolled by Rittenhouse, and I don’t believe in coincidences.”

She’s right, Lucy knows she’s right. A curious kind of numbness replaces the panic, and she welcomes it. “Why are you telling me this? Why not just go in there and get him to confirm it?”

“Because he won’t talk to us,” Christopher says bluntly. Lucy has always admired Christopher’s refusal to shy away from difficult matters, and she particularly admires it now. “He’s maintained since we picked him up that he won’t cooperate unless he speaks to you first.”

“No way,” Wyatt answers, posture rigid as he turns to her. “It’s just a play to get in your head and mess with you. There’s no point.”

Rufus squeezes in between her and the wall, so that she’s flanked on both sides by men she trusts, and it does help a little.

“I hate to say it, because the guy did kind of save my life, but Wyatt’s right.” Unlike Wyatt, Rufus seems pretty relaxed, but his eyes are hard. “I say we just throw his ass in jail. No reason to treat him differently than any of the others.”

“I’d say that we need to know if he is different from any of the others,” Christopher replies. “But I won’t make you do this, Lucy. It’s up to you.”

It’s a few long moments of Lucy wondering how many blows, how many betrayals she can take. Long moments of asking herself if knowing is worth the aftermath.

The thing is, she’s made a career of seeking the truth, facing head-on the realities of events and movements and people. She’s always believed that knowing the stark, painful truth of things made her a better human being, and that hasn’t changed.

She’s a historian. That’s who she is.

“I can stop any time?” she asks Christopher.

She nods. “Any time. We’ll have two agents in there with you, and I’ll be in the next room watching you the whole time.”

“So will we,” Wyatt says, giving Rufus a significant look.

Rufus nods enthusiastically. “Absolutely, right next door.”

“Okay,” she says, taking a deep breath. “Let’s do this.”

When Christopher opens the door for her, she steps in, bracing herself for an angry or defiant Noah waiting to (literally or figuratively) jump on her. But he’s sitting calmly, coolly even, and it puts Lucy off balance for moment.

They’d cleared out most of the other furniture, so that only a plain metal desk and two chairs on either side remain, along with a camera set up to capture and relay their conversation. To her right there’s a door that connects the two offices, and knowing that her team is right on the other side silently supporting her gives her enough confidence to sit down.

Some of her earlier anxiety returns as they sit in silence, and it occurs to Lucy that she hasn’t gotten any better at these kinds of conversations since she’d tried to reform Lindbergh.

Knowing that she’s the weak one here, she decides to just get on with it. She doesn’t want to be in this room any longer than she absolutely has to be. “You wanted to talk to me?”

Noah nods, just slightly. “I wanted to make sure you were okay. We didn’t exactly leave things in a good place the last time we saw each other.”

His delivery is so earnest, so on point, that if she couldn’t see his eyes, she’d really think he cared about her. But his eyes--they’re just blank. It’s a ploy of some kind, and she can’t figure it out, and it makes her angry.

“Okay,” she says, scoffing and sitting up straighter. “Can we just agree to drop this whole doting-fiancé act? I know Noah Russo isn’t your real name. Whatever I am to you, it’s not a trusted confidante, and it’s definitely not a loving partner. You don’t care about me. So let’s just get to whatever it is you wanted to talk to me about so that I can go to bed.”

He smiles at her suggestively, and finally, some honest but indecipherable expression flits across his face. “There’s the Lucy I remember.”

She stands up, and she looks to one of the agents standing over Noah’s shoulder. She won’t stay here and be so blatantly manipulated. “We’re done.”

“Lucy, come on,” Noah says when her back is to him and her hand is on the doorknob. “After everything, you don’t believe that I loved you? What about your mother? She loves you. She’s worried about you. She’s worried about your future.”

She turns where she stands, hand still on the door--there’s no way she’s sitting back down in that chair. She doesn’t want to give him that power.

“So that’s it?” she asks, chilled by his words and knowing that he’s hooked her despite herself. “My mother needed an in? Did she think I would tell you about my work, since I wouldn’t tell her?”

Just silence, so she continues, trying to find a question he’ll answer. “You know, I wondered. Ever since the day you just appeared in my life, through my picky mom, no less. It was just so convenient. And I thought--that’s crazy, I’m crazy,” she says, shaking her head, and laying her hand against her chest.

“You’re just this poor guy with terrible-enough luck to get a time-traveling girlfriend who doesn’t remember him,” and she should maybe regret admitting that part, she doesn’t know how much he’s supposed to know, but he doesn’t react. “Now, though? Now I’m pretty sure I wasn’t crazy.

“Were we really engaged?” She lets go of the doorknob and takes just one step closer, desperate to know the truth. To know the extent of her mom’s deception. “Did we even know each other before four months ago?”

Noah doesn’t say a word, just tilts his head at her and smiles that odd, creepy smile.

Lucy’s stomach rolls, and she has to swallow to force down bile, because he may not have said anything but she knows--she knows--that she’s right.

“Wow, you’re good,” she laughs, and it’s shaky and awful. “I believed it. I believed all of it, I mean you had everything--pictures of us, my things, my clothes. I mean, really, well done.”

“You’d be surprised what Rittenhouse can do, Lucy.”

“I’ve heard that,” she replies bitterly. “Whose idea was it, Noah? Rittenhouse’s or my mother’s?”

Noah leans forward over the desk, and that expression appears in his eyes again, and this time she can name it as a sort of manic belief. This man has definitely drunk the Kool-Aid. “See, your problem is that you still think there’s a difference. Your mother is Rittenhouse. Your father is Rittenhouse. You’re Rittenhouse. It’s in your blood.”

“No,” she manages. His words are so eerily reflective of her earlier thoughts, and she has got to get out of this room. There’s nothing left for her to learn here. “I’m not anything I don’t want to be, and I’ll never be Rittenhouse.”

She turns on her heel, and this time she leaves the room immediately, without hesitation. She knows he’s calling out something behind her, but she’s not paying attention, just wanting to close the door on him in all the ways she can.

Seeing her team come out of their office, she braces a hand on the wall as they come toward her, trying to keep herself and her world steady for just a minute longer. They all look so worried and solemn, Lucy has to fight the ridiculous, somewhat hysterical urge to laugh.

“You did well, Lucy,” Christopher says. “I know it doesn’t feel like it, but you got us some good information to follow up on.”

“Yeah,” Lucy replies, sounding breathless and avoiding Wyatt’s gaze, which has zeroed in on her face.

“You should start checking into the older members and their families,” Rufus interjects, sounding only slightly less freaked out than she feels. “As obsessed as these people seem to be with bloodlines, there's no way they'd pair him up with Lucy if he wasn't from the inside. Ten to one that guy’s some Rittenhouse stooge’s kid.”

God, if that isn't a disgusting thought. “He’s right. Excuse me,” Lucy says before abruptly retreating.

She’s used up all her calm, and before she really thinks about it, she’s moving quickly back down the hallway, looking for the ladies’ bathroom she’s pretty sure is down here somewhere.

Footsteps behind her announce that Wyatt is following her. “Wait, Lucy, where are you going?”

She doesn’t spare him a glance. “To throw up.”

To her relief, the women’s room is only a few doors down from where she thought it was, and when she pushes through the door, she’s startled to see that Wyatt has followed her.

Her stomach is still rebelling with all this new, disturbing knowledge, and she doesn’t want him in here. “Wyatt, really, I need--”

The sound of him hauling a large, open trash can across the floor to where they’re standing cuts her off. “If you need it, there it is,” he says. “Now talk to me.”

It sends her back to the last time he sought her out like this, in a cottage behind enemy lines. She’s not as scared now as she was then, but it's close. “You don’t talk.”

He gives her a dark half-smile. “For you I do.”

His arms are crossed over his chest, and his shoulders are tense, but there’s a stillness about his eyes--those blue eyes that just seem to capture her--and she marvels at how solid he is, how unshakeable he seems ever since he told her that it was his purpose to protect her and Rufus.

But she’s incredibly shaken, and she doesn’t want him to see how close she is to losing it. She presses a hand to her forehead, shaking her head. “I can’t--”

“Yes, you can. You can, Lucy. You’re safe here. Just get it out.”

He won’t let her look away, chases her gaze when she tries to. The hand on her forehead runs through her hair, then falls. “It’s just--I’ve followed my mom my whole life. I became a historian because I love the work, but also because it was what my mom wanted. And I was okay with that, most of the time I was okay with that, because it brought us closer. Even when she was sick, I felt so close to her. And now I find out that must have all been a lie, she brought this stranger into my life, she let me think I was supposed to marry him, she let me live with him, he could’ve--”

It’s horrifying, how vulnerable Noah and her mom made her. She knows Wyatt understands, because his jaw is clenched as he nods sharply. “Yeah. Right there with you.”

She nods back, takes a deep breath, eyes burning and throat aching. “And I think it might be worse, because it wasn’t always like this, right? It couldn’t have always been like this, we had Amy, and she wasn’t...I’m sure our Dad wasn’t a part of this, so that means…”

“Finish it,” Wyatt says, voice low and knowing.

“I think I did this, Wyatt,” Lucy says, voice thready with repressed tears. “Something we did, it didn’t just erase Amy, it changed something in my mother, something fundamental, something that Rittenhouse exploited. Which means that everything that’s happened since that first mission is my fault, because I didn’t do my job--”

Wyatt shakes his head. “C’mere,” he says, then he’s got one warm hand on the nape of her neck, and the other one low on her back, pulling her closer.

She puts her arms around his waist, presses her cheek into his shoulder, and just lets everything else go for a while. She pours out all the sadness, all the guilt, all the fear. Wyatt just holds her tightly, letting her soak his shirt, wrapping her up in an invisible blanket of comfort.

After a few minutes she sniffles, feeling stuffy and exhausted and a little embarrassed by it all. She pulls away, but he doesn’t let her go far, keeping her close with his hands on her upper arms.

He bends a little to catch her eye. “I don’t know if something we did changed her. I hope not. I’m--I’m sorry if it did. But it’s an impossible job, okay? You can't put all that on your shoulders. You have to know that no one could have done better. No one.”

“I want to believe that,” she says, wiping her nose on her sleeve--her mother would definitely not approve of that unladylike gesture, and she takes some weird satisfaction from that--and then swipes her fingers under both eyes.

He watches all of this quietly, waits until she's looking up at him to speak. “Well, I believe it. I'm pretty sure Rufus does too. Maybe for now that’ll be enough.”

She holds his eyes for a beat longer, trying to communicate the gratitude that she can't put into words. They linger and begin to sway toward each other as the air between them changes. It becomes charged with promise, just like it felt last night in the meeting room, and just like that moment, something happens to interrupt it before the promise can be fulfilled.

Lucy yawns.

When Wyatt laughs, it's warm with affection, but Lucy’s face is warm with a blush, and she drops her chin to her chest with a groan. “I'm sorry. I'm so tired, but I'm just...I'm not ready to go back out there yet.”

He slides his hands up to her shoulders and tugs her close enough to drop a kiss on the top of her head. A nice bolt of electricity shoots down from the spot, and she warms for a different reason, but she really is just too drained to see where it leads right now.

And Wyatt, being the protector he is, seems to understand that. “Come on,” he says, pulling her over to the side of the small room, where he sits, leaning his back against the wall and stretching his long legs out in front of him.

She blinks. “Really?”

He just looks up at her and smirks. “You said you weren't ready to go out yet. There's no couch in here--which is a disappointment, by the way, I always heard there were couches in ladies’ rooms--so that just leaves the floor. Sit.”

For the first time in hours, Lucy feels like smiling, so she does. And then she sits.

It takes her a minute to adjust, the tile floor not being the most comfortable surface to rest on after the day she's had, but Wyatt’s shoulder next to hers feels right somehow.

“So,” she sighs, staring at the gleaming sinks on the opposite wall. “What now?”

“I'm the wrong guy for that, I just execute the orders, I don't give them,” he says, and she would say that he shouldn't sell himself short, but she's pretty sure he's joking by the way his mouth tilts and his eyes crinkle. “Rufus is the smart one, he'll think of something.”

As if on cue, there's a hesitant knock on the door, followed by it opening just a crack. “Guys? Is it safe for me to come in?”

Wyatt rolls his eyes. “Yes, Rufus. What do you think we're doing in here?”

“I don't know, I've just learned to be cautious about opening unknown doors.” He holds out his hands, giving her a bottle of water and a big bar of dark chocolate. “Thought you could use these.”

Her eyes start to sting again at Rufus’ thoughtfulness, and she has to blink a few times. “Thanks.”

She opens the bottle of water and takes a long gulp, realizing how thirsty all the crying has made her. Rufus really is a genius.

She recaps it quickly and drops it into her lap when Rufus slowly starts to lower himself next to her, groaning.

She puts a hand up to help support his back as he sits. “Rufus, your stitches, be careful!” she chastises.

He waves a hand once he's settled. “It's fine, Wyatt can carry me back out.”

“No, Wyatt can't,” Wyatt shoots back. “You've got like 30, 40 pounds on me.”

Rufus leans forward to glare at Wyatt. “Hey, that’s all muscle!”

Lucy hides a smile, tearing open the chocolate bar wrapper to break a piece off.

“Did I say it wasn’t? You're taller than me,” Wyatt says, accepting a piece of chocolate from her. “Plus, there’s that giant brain of yours.”

Rufus grumbles, eyeing the square of chocolate she offers him for a second before taking it. “Well, I accept your acknowledgment of my superior intellect.”

“I think you're perfect, Rufus,” Lucy says.

Rufus harrumphs, although it's clear he's putting on a show to cheer her up. “Damn right I am. Jiya doesn’t just want me for my brain, you know.”

It's totally working, because she grins. “Of course. I'd fight her for you, but I'm positive she could take me.”

Rufus’ eyes sparkle, like they always do when he's thinking about Jiya. “It's a valid concern. You can't trust Star Trek fans, they fight dirty.”

“Star Trek fans?” Wyatt interjects. “What about Star Wars fans? Han shot first.”

Rufus and Lucy both turn to Wyatt and stare.

His face reddens. “What? I watch movies,” he says defensively.

Lucy snorts, then looks back at Rufus. “How is Jiya doing?”

That sobers him up, and he doesn't quite meet her eyes. “Better,” he says, pulling his cell phone out of his pocket to show Lucy that he's been texting her. “Wishing she could be here to watch the drama unfold.”

And what drama it was. Lucy appreciates the humor, how Jiya makes the matter feel less threatening. “I bet. Tell her we said hi.”

Rufus nods, then takes her hand. “Yeah, about that. I'm sorry your not-fiancé turned out to be a cylon.”

He doesn't say, sorry that your mom did too, but she hears it anyway. She swallows, manages a strained smile. “Me too.”

They're all quiet after that, but it's a comforting quiet, while Lucy lets herself enjoy their company and relax. They finish off the chocolate bar, and Lucy takes a few more sips of water.

“So we're just...hanging out in the bathroom, huh?” Rufus asks.

Wyatt huffs a laugh. “Yep.”

Then their attention is drawn to the door, which squeaks open as an older woman Lucy recognizes as one of the lead computer programmers walks in, then abruptly stops when she catches sight of the three of them on the floor.

They regard each other in silence, until Rufus speaks up. “Hi,” he offers nonchalantly, as if there's nothing odd about this situation at all.

The programmer points to the door. “You know, I'll just use another one.”

“Sorry!” Lucy yells out belatedly, just before the door swings closed behind the departing woman.

“We should probably get out of here,” Rufus comments mildly.

Lucy drops her head onto Wyatt’s shoulder, feels his answering chuckle. “Yeah.”

Despite knowing that nothing has changed--her mother is still a stranger, Noah is still just down the hall in interrogation being evil--she feels at peace here. With Wyatt and Rufus beside her, she feels safe and cozy and actually optimistic, and she's afraid that once they leave that will go away.

So she squeezes Rufus' hand, and gets comfortable against Wyatt’s shoulder, and closes her eyes. “Just a few more minutes.”

Wyatt must turn to look at her, because she can feel his breath rustle her hair when he speaks. “Okay.”

So they stay.