Massachusetts Colony, late 1600s.
The death-grip Lucy had on the saddle was the only reason she didn't tumble off the horse when Wyatt stopped them in the small clearing in front of the lifeboat.
After three years of chasing bad guys through time trying to protect history, she was familiar with the effects of an adrenaline spike, but that didn't make it any more pleasant to live through. At least she didn't fall on her ass off the horse on top of everything else that had happened today.
Wyatt jumped down from his own horse like he did it every day – the Texas coming out in him, Lucy thought in the back of her head – and turned to Rufus, who was clambering down from his mount with far less grace. "Get the engine running. We need to get the hell out of here."
Rufus glanced at Lucy quickly to make sure she was okay. She managed to nod at him. "I'm just going to say it: the entire 1600s suck!" he said, hurrying to the lifeboat.
Lucy really couldn't argue with him.
Wyatt stopped next to her horse, holding his arms up to help her down even as he looked back along the road they'd taken from the village. "Lucy, come on."
She wanted to move, but her hands were still locked around the saddle. She frowned at her own fingers. She tried to will herself to let go, but nothing happened.
"Lucy." Wyatt's voice had grown softer. His hand appeared in her field of vision, covering her own gently. His skin was warm. How could her hands be cold? The fire…
She flinched. But her grip on the saddle didn't falter.
"Lucy," that was more of a command, though Wyatt kept his voice low. "Relax. It's over. You're safe. We're going home." His fingers stroked across the back of her hand. "Look at me." She craned her neck and he reached up and put his other hand on her thigh. "You can let go. It's all right."
Mechanical noises came from the lifeboat. Rufus was getting it ready. They were going home. She was alive. It was over.
Wyatt's touch remained steady, unhurried. "I've got you, Luce, you can let go now," he kept telling her and at length her fingers finally twitched slightly. He immediately pried her hands free and with that, Lucy slipped off the horse.
Wyatt caught her, his arms supporting her so she didn't fall to the ground. He tucked her into his side and then yelled at the horses, shooing them off. The noise made her jump again and her leg nearly buckled.
"What is it? Are you hurt?" He pulled back, looking her up and down, assessing her condition.
"No, my leg, it's just sore, I think." Her jailers hadn't exactly been gentle with the accused witch.
They both looked down and Lucy saw for the first time the charred edges of her dress, where the fire had started to burn it away.
It rushed through her mind like a slideshow – the chanting crowd, the insane fury of the priest as he railed at Lucy, the malicious crackling noise of the flames as they swept toward her. She was going to have nightmares about that sound for the rest of her life.
Then the explosion on the other side of the village, courtesy of Rufus, she assumed. With people running every which way, Rufus had appeared with two buckets of water to douse the pyre where she was being burned alive, and Wyatt was on her other side, cutting the ropes and firing his pistol above the heads of the crowd to keep them back.
She could still hear the echoes in her head of the people screaming to catch the witch and kill them all.
Wyatt's eyes slowly moved from the singed fabric up her body. Even in the dim moonlight she could see his expression change. The Delta Force operative faded and Wyatt – her Wyatt – reappeared. He looked terrified and she knew the reality of her close call was just hitting him.
She was still surprised when he grabbed her, though. His hand cradled the back of her head and he pulled her so tightly to his body she couldn't really breathe. But Lucy didn't care, because it was the first moment she felt safe since the mob had come for her that morning. She fisted both hands in his shirt and held on.
It was a toss-up which of them was shaking more. Lucy tucked herself firmly into Wyatt's arms and he buried his face in her hair. She could hear him muttering but it took her a second to make out what he was saying.
"I almost lost you. I almost lost you again. Christ, Lucy, I almost lost you again."
She nodded against his shoulder, because even with all the things they'd been through, she hadn't been this scared in a long time, but it was over. "I'm here," she told him. And herself. "I'm here."
She felt his lips brush against her ear, but he didn't stop there. He kissed her cheek and then drew back just far enough to kiss her lips. Even though it had only been a couple weeks, it still felt like home.
There had been a few occasions in the last three years where they had kissed as part of a cover story. For a long time Lucy refused to admit, at least out loud, that every one of those show kisses had shaken her. They felt like more than playacting. She suspected – hoped? – that the same was true for Wyatt, but it was never the right time to talk about it.
Two weeks ago, Rufus had been spending the evening with Jiya and she and Wyatt had gone to dinner together. It was nothing they hadn't done a hundred times before, but that night hadn't felt like two friends hanging out. And it hadn't felt like two people tossed into a world of insane intrigue and science fiction technology.
It had felt like a date.
Wyatt had flirted with her, much more openly than he ever had before. Lucy had tried to flirt back but she was terrible at it, really. It didn't seem to bother him. When he drove her home and walked her up to her door, she hadn't known what to say or do.
Then Wyatt had framed her face in his hands and kissed her, a lot like this. No audience, no cover to sell, just the two of them, standing in her doorway.
Their first "real" kiss, she had called it in her head.
Which made this the second one, she supposed.
They hadn't gotten a chance to talk about it, because the next day they found out Rittenhouse had sent someone back to the Salem witch trials and the last 7 days had been spent roaming around colonial Massachusetts trying to figure out what was going on.
Which lead to being accused of witchcraft and very nearly burning alive.
Lucy slid her arms around Wyatt's shoulders. She didn't want to think about that any more. She kissed Wyatt back and she felt it when his mood shifted. She drew in a quick breath but it was enough for him to take advantage, slipping his tongue into her mouth and deepening the kiss. The hand not cradling her head moved down her back, pressing her lower half against his body. His tongue slid along her own, teasing her, tasting her, driving every thought out of her head but him.
"Guys – oh, man, I did not need to see this!" Rufus's grumpy voice broke the moment. Lucy felt herself flushing as she tried to disentangle herself from Wyatt, but he didn't relax his grip on her. He just flashed her that ridiculous grin.
"Sorry, Rufus," Wyatt called without looking back.
"Yeah, right. Look, the lifeboat's ready and we still have a literal mob with torches and pitchforks on the way so could you two just table that until we get back to civilization?"
Their teammate's words caused both of them to straighten up. There would be time for all of… that… once they were safely away from the mob.
They moved toward the lifeboat and Lucy didn't argue when Wyatt reached out to help her climb in. She took his hand and squeezed it, pausing. "Wyatt, we should talk." There were about a thousand subjects they needed to discuss, including his dead wife, her missing sister and evil family and former fiancé and their crazy jobs, just to name the top five.
To her relief, he nodded. "We will." Then he shot her the most suggestive smirk she'd ever seen in her life and leaned closer to whisper in her ear. "Eventually."
Lucy felt a wave of warmth roll through her and Wyatt, the cocky bastard, winked at her. Then he boosted her up onto the lifeboat without giving her a chance to reply.
He strapped her into her seat. As the lifeboat began to shake and rattle, she worried she could hear voices shouting outside, but the familiar, nauseating jerk signaled their departure.
They were going home.
Wyatt's POV on the fire and the return trip home.
Wyatt only took his eyes off Lucy when the shaking of the lifeboat got too much to handle. (Really, after all this time, you'd think Mason could pony up some improvements to their only mode of transportation.)
Despite the time crunch, he had taken his time buckling Lucy into her seat, lingering a bit when his hands were close to her body. She blushed and bit her lip and rolled her eyes at him, but it worked. Keeping her focused on him and flustered by his attention kept her mind off what had happened for a little longer.
He had no illusions. Even with everything they'd been through, every previous close call, the aftermath of this one was going to suck. And not just for Lucy.
She'd screamed his name. When the fire started to get out of control, just before Rufus' 1600s equivalent of an improvised explosive device ("Dude, do you have any idea how hard it's going to be to find something combustible around here in the dark ages?" Rufus had demanded), Lucy had called for him. Wyatt was pretty sure she wasn't even aware she'd done it.
Rufus had grabbed his coat and kept him from running forward until the explosion caused the mob to panic and evened their odds a bit.
Wyatt knew he was going to hear Lucy screaming for him to save her in his nightmares. It was nothing new. He'd been dreaming about her death for years now. Her or Rufus or both of them died while he watched helplessly. Sometimes Jess was there too, just to really taunt him with all his mistakes.
Jessica's death had broken something in him, but he had realized a few months after this Rittenhouse nightmare had started that Lucy or Rufus dying was going to be even worse. His visions of Jess's death had been inventions of his imagination. If Lucy or Rufus died, Wyatt was probably going to watch it happen. And it was going to be directly his fault. He'd had comrades die in front of him before, but Lucy and Rufus weren't soldiers. He was their protection, so anything that happened to them, it was on him.
He'd been holding back from Lucy for months because of that. After the Philippines and Vienna, knowing that he was in love with her, he'd been too scared to say the words. Because that was going to be the moment the universe fucked him over and took her away too, he just knew it.
Until tonight. Lucy was shaking in his arms, dirty and reeking of smoke from the fire that nearly killed her and it really hit him how close he'd come to losing her. There were so many things he didn't know yet that he wanted to find out and he almost lost the chance. If she had died tonight, all he would have to hold on to was one real kiss and a thousand unanswered questions.
Not being with her? Wasn't going to make losing her any easier.
He fought the wave of nausea as the lifeboat settled around them. Lucy was pale and her jaw was tight, probably for the same reason. He and Rufus got her free of her harness and both of them hovered as they climbed out of the lifeboat. Agent Christopher raised her eyebrows as she got a good look at Lucy's dress. "I take it that didn't go well."
Lucy started to give the other woman a rundown of the mission but Wyatt interrupted, insisting Lucy needed to see the medic.
She glared at him, although it didn't have the usual force of Lucy's angry looks. "Wyatt, I'm fine-"
He gave her his best puppy dog face. "Humor me."
Rufus sided with him and facing united opposition, they moved the debriefing to the medical area, explaining to Christopher what had happened while the medic tended to Lucy's scratched up wrists and then carefully lifted the burned skirt out of the way.
In the grand scheme of things, the second-degree burns on Lucy's right leg weren't that bad, but Wyatt still tasted bile in the back of his throat as he saw them. Rufus looked a bit green as well.
When the debriefing was done and Christopher gone, Lucy begged for a shower before the medic bandaged her up. Wyatt couldn't really blame her. They were all pretty ripe before the fire had happened. Rufus left after giving Lucy a bear hug and muttering something about avoiding the entire century in future. She managed to call up a smile for him, but it was small.
Wyatt didn't want to leave her alone. He had to, he knew that, and he knew he was being irrational, but his body was still twitching with adrenaline.
"So," Lucy hooked her thumb over her shoulder in the direction of the women's locker room. "Um, shower."
"Yeah. I'll meet you upstairs?"
She met his eyes and he saw her relief before she turned away, though he wasn't sure what prompted it. He had said they would talk. Did she think he was just kidding? Because he wasn't kidding. They were going to get food and talk.
Hopefully more than talk.
God, he hoped the talking part of the afternoon - evening, whatever - didn't take too long. Because now that he had given in to it, to how badly he wanted her and this, he needed more than a couple of kisses. Sex was probably not in the cards, not with everything that had happened today, but he needed privacy so he could touch her and convince himself she was alive and okay. He needed to answer at least a few of those questions tonight.
He knew Lucy well enough to know that she needed to have a conversation first, but, well, they could also talk more later, right? They had time.
That thought brought him up short, a prickle of uneasiness going down his spine. He pushed it back and hurried through his post-mission routine. Dressed in his own clothes again, he shoved his wallet into his jeans and turned on his phone. He glanced at the screen, checking for messages and swiped right when he saw he had a voicemail.
It was the call log that stopped him dead.
"Jessica. 7:41 pm Tuesday."
So Jessica is alive in this timeline. But what does that mean for Wyatt?
Wyatt had no idea how much time passed as he stood there immobile, his heart pounding in his ears, staring at the phone.
Jessica. Jessica called him.
She was alive.
Jess was alive?
How was this possible?
Finally, he managed to make his fingers move enough to play the message. He raised the phone to his ear, part of him wondering if this was some sort of sick joke. Rittenhouse was capable of anything, he knew that.
"Hey, Wyatt, it's me."
It was her. It was Jess. He didn't hear the rest of the message because his throat closed over and tears started to fill his eyes. He slammed down onto the bench when his legs gave out. It was really her. That was her voice. He hadn't heard her in so long.
She was alive.
Fumbling, he replayed the message three times and tried to focus enough to hear the whole thing. "Hey, Wyatt, it's me. Um, I was just calling to, well, I wanted to talk to you about something. It's nothing bad, I just… look, give me a call when you get a chance? Okay, bye."
He saved the message and sat staring at his phone, his mind racing with too many questions, but there was only one way to get answers. He almost made the call when it occurred to him that he might not want to do this here, in the bowels of Mason Industries, where who knew who was listening or could walk in. He bolted out of the building, ignoring the confused looks from people as he went past, and got in his car before hitting the call button on the phone.
"Wyatt, hi. Thanks for calling me back."
He couldn't talk. He could barely breathe. It took him three tries to get out, "Jess? Is that really you? You're al- all right?"
"Yeah, Wyatt, I'm fine."
"Are you sure?" He couldn't help himself. His voice was choked up and he knew it was obvious he was crying.
"I'm fine, Wyatt. Are you okay?"
"Yeah, I'm… I'm sorry. It's just…it's so good to hear your voice, Jess."
Her tone softened a bit. "Bad day at the office again?"
His heart twisted in his chest. One of the stumbling blocks of their relationship had always been his work. Most of his missions were classified and he couldn't talk to anyone outside his unit about them, no matter how badly he wanted to. Jess hadn't been thrilled about it, but calling it "a bad day at the office" had been their private shorthand for a rough mission.
"You have no idea, baby." The endearment slipped out before he could think.
"Don't," she said, her voice suddenly sharp.
"Sorry," he replied, reflexively. The rejection seemed to bring his brain back online. There was a distance to the conversation – the hesitancy of her message, the anger, that there was no wedding ring waiting in his locker and his keys were the same as when he left – that filtered through to his brain. "So, uh, how are you?" he ventured, figuring that was safely vague enough. "I'm sorry I didn't call sooner."
"It's okay. I remember the drill. You get called out, you go, no stopping to make phone calls." She talked for a minute about her job, a job he had no memory of her having, causing the suspicion in his head to solidify, and then he heard her draw in a deep breath and sigh. "Listen, the reason I called is Dave asked me to move in with him."
Wyatt didn't speak. He would be afraid he was dead and in hell, except for the stabbing pain in his chest telling him this was real.
They weren't together anymore. Jessica was alive, but he wasn't married to her any more, and she was dating someone else. It was the only possible conclusion.
Jess started babbling. "I said yes. I know we've only been dating six months, but… anyway, I know how gossip travels and I didn't want you to hear this from someone else."
"Dave Baumgardner?" he croaked out. It was the only Dave he can think of.
"No David Wright." He could practically hear her rolling her eyes. "Who else?"
"Sorry, I'm just trying to…" he couldn't finish that thought out loud either. "I'm trying to wrap my brain around you being alive but us not being together and you dating one of my friends - who was also supposed to be dead - because apparently we changed something about the timeline without realizing it!" wasn't going to go over well.
She sighed again. "No, it's okay. Look, Wyatt, I meant it when I said I hoped we could be friends at some point. I still care about you."
"I still care about you too." Understatement. There was one primary thing he needed to know. "But you're… Jess, you're happy?"
"Yeah, I am."
"Good. That's… that's good."
Jess said something about calling him again soon so they could talk and he wasn't really aware of ending the conversation. But then he was staring at his silent phone and he knew he had to go back into the building. He had to talk to Christopher. He had to know everything.
He had to tell Lucy.
At that thought, it took several more minutes before he could get himself out of his car.
Lucy hears the news.
This is a bit short, sorry, but I promise the next 2 chapters will make it all up to you.
Lucy tried hard not to loiter but she was pretty sure she was failing. Wyatt had disappeared into the men's locker area a while ago and not come back. From the way he'd been looking at her during the debriefing she was not expecting him to take his time with getting ready to go. She had hurried through her own shower, grateful to wash not just the dirt but the soot and the scent of the fire off her, and gotten dressed in record time after the medic had treated the burns on her leg and the abrasions on her wrists from being tied up, but Wyatt was nowhere to be found. She asked Rufus and he said he hadn't seen Wyatt when he'd gotten back to the locker room.
So she hung around the conference room, chatting with Jiya and Rufus about the witch trials and modern versions thereof. She went online and checked the names of the two young women that had been in the jail cell with her back in the past, but nothing came up on them. Rufus had blown a hole in the wall of the jail. Lucy hoped fervently that both of those women had escaped and gone on to live long and happy lives.
Wyatt came into the conference room. Except it wasn't the Wyatt she had seen an hour ago. His face was pale, his eyes were wide and red, and he appeared to be shaking. Lucy stood up in alarm. "Wyatt?"
She couldn't interpret the look he sent her. He focused on Jiya. "Do you know who Jessica is?"
Jiya frowned. "Your ex-wife? That Jessica?"
The ground swooped under Lucy's feet. She had to put a hand on the chair she was standing behind. Wyatt's ex-wife? Not dead wife, but ex? That meant…
Jessica was alive.
Rufus realized it at the same moment, his jaw dropping.
Jiya was looking around at them. "Okay someone want to fill me in here?"
"Something wrong?" Denise Christopher was standing in the doorway.
"Close the door," Wyatt told her.
She did and, obeying some silent communication from Wyatt, she pulled out the tiny jamming device Rufus had created to ensure nobody overheard anything they were saying. She put in on the table and then folded her arms, looking at Wyatt expectantly.
"Jessica is here. She's alive. In this timeline."
Denise frowned. "She wasn't alive in the timeline you left?"
"She hasn't been alive in any timeline we've ever been in. Even after…" Wyatt trailed off and Rufus grimaced. If Jessica was alive in this timeline, Wyatt never would have gone rogue and stolen the lifeboat to try and save her, but they maybe shouldn't tell a federal agent about that part. "I need to see my file. I need to know what you have on her."
Jiya looked to Denise, who nodded. While Jiya typed, Lucy focused on the window. She could feel Wyatt staring at her, but she couldn't bring herself to look back.
Part of her – the terrible, selfish part – wanted to scream. After all of this, after three years of chasing people through time, every single change Flynn or Rittenhouse or they themselves had made to the timeline, they had always come back to learn that Jessica was still gone, just like Amy. But now, this time, when she and Wyatt were finally on the same page, his wife, the love of his life, was alive. Like the universe had to screw her over yet again.
Immediately Lucy scolded herself for the thought. Jessica being alive was a miracle. Wyatt had been trying to move past her death for years. He'd been grieving for years. If she genuinely cared about him she should be happy for him, not thinking of herself.
Rufus put a comforting hand on her back. All Lucy could think of was how Wyatt's arms had felt around her a couple hours ago, how he had kissed her like she was the most important thing in the world. But she never was. Not to anyone.
She should have known that feeling was a lie too.
"What about Amy?" Rufus said into the painful silence. Lucy's head snapped toward him. If Jess was alive in this timeline, was it possible Amy was here?
But Denise's face killed that hope instantly. "Lucy's sister from the original timeline? No. We've tried several times to bring her back, but it's never worked."
Tears started to form in her eyes. Lucy willed them back. The three of them apparently could only get one miracle.
"Here's your file," Jiya said to Wyatt, handing him the laptop.
"I'm going to head home," Lucy said quietly. She needed to get out of here.
She could see the conflict in his eyes. But she knew what Jessica meant to him. "You need to focus on this," she told him, turning away. She was relieved at how calm her voice sounded. Internally she was anything but.
She'd always known if there was a choice between her and Jessica, which one Wyatt would choose. Hell, she had risked her own life once to try and help him get her back.
She'd known that and gone ahead and walked into this anyway. Allowed herself to hope. She should know by now, after the last three years, how foolish that was. Lucy needed to go home, have a drink or several, and try to find a way to come back to work tomorrow and pretend like nothing ever happened.
Rufus stepped into the painful pause that ensued. "Yeah, we're going to make sure you get home okay." He glanced at Jiya and the two of them steered Lucy toward the door. She was too tired to argue. She heard the chair move as Wyatt sat down, but she didn't look back.
Wyatt ponders what to do next. Rufus supplies the alcohol.
Christopher came back as Wyatt stared at the laptop, reading the text for the third time.
His file was pretty sparse. He'd been divorced in this timeline for nearly five years, so about two years after the point in time when she had died in his original timeline, they had separated. The divorce was final a few months later.
Wyatt closed the laptop and handed it back over, fidgeting. Christopher must have guessed what he was thinking, because instead of walking away, she sat down. "I don't know much. You've told Lucy and Rufus more than you've told any of us, or you did." She frowned. The paradoxes of the timeline changing without knowing it never sat comfortably on her. "I know when you were assigned to the first mission to go after Flynn, you weren't in a good place. The divorce hit you pretty hard. You were nearly suspended from Delta and out on involuntary leave. They recalled you because you were here and we needed someone ASAP."
That made a twisted kind of sense. He'd nearly gotten kicked out of the military after Jess's murder. Divorce wouldn't have been a picnic. "What about now?" he asked.
"Your mental state? It's improved. You told me about a year into all of this that this mission gave you a sense of purpose again. Lucy and Rufus and keeping them safe is what keeps you going."
He felt a small surge of relief. That was still true, at least.
Christopher stood up but hesitated. "Can I ask a personal question?" He nodded. "Are you and Lucy together?"
He swallowed hard. "Um, no. Well, not really. Yet." He sighed. "It's complicated."
She offered him a wry smile. "It always is. The reason I asked is here? The two of you have been dating for about six months." She held up a hand. "I don't know that officially, of course, but about seven months ago, you came back from a particularly rough mission and after that you were arriving to work in the same car all the time. It wasn't hard to put two and two together."
Wyatt thought back seven months. "The Philippines?" That was the mission he realized how deep his feelings for Lucy went.
"Yes. I guess some things are still the same."
Except apparently in this timeline he was less of a coward and had manned up and told Lucy how he felt about her after they got out of that hellhole.
Christopher walked away with the laptop. Wyatt went home. He didn't know what else to do.
His apartment was surreal. Most of the furniture was the same, but there were pieces missing. He glanced in the closet and noted the absence of several boxes where he had carefully packed Jessica's belongings when he moved out of their old place. If they separated in this timeline, she would've taken those things with her.
Despite knowing what he would find, Wyatt opened the desk drawer. About a year ago, he had taken down all his notes and files about the murder and put them into a folder. He hadn't thrown anything away; it was just a small step in moving forward, not having that stuff on his wall constantly reminding him.
The folder wasn't there, of course. Jessica was alive and well.
And not with him anymore.
He needed a drink.
His kitchen was just as bare as when he left. The bottle of whiskey was nearly empty. He didn't drink much these days. They could get called to work at any moment and he knew from first-hand experience that the lifeboat was even more unbearable when he wasn't sober.
He bypassed using a glass and just took a slug from the bottle. There wasn't enough alcohol to get him drunk, unfortunately. That might be the only way to get his head to stop spinning right now.
Someone knocked at his door, the pattern Wyatt had taught Rufus and Lucy to use on a mission once. There were two different patterns, one for distress and one normal, that only the three of them knew. It had come in handy more than once.
Rufus was holding a paper bag containing a fresh bottle of whiskey. "Figured you could use this."
Wyatt frowned. "You should be taking care of Lucy."
"Who do you think sent me here?" Rufus slipped past him. "Jiya brought her ice cream."
Wyatt nodded. Ice cream was Lucy's preferred comfort food.
Unlike him, Rufus went into the cabinet and pulled down two glasses. He poured Wyatt a large amount of the whiskey, himself a much smaller dose, and sat at the kitchen table expectantly.
Wyatt plopped into the chair, drained half the glass, and started talking. It was mostly a stream of the same questions over and over, "Why did this happen? What did we change? How is this possible?" with a lot of profanity in between. Wyatt paced, he yelled, he even started to cry again. Through it all, Rufus listened, made sympathetic faces, but he had no answers for this either.
An hour or more later, when Wyatt had worked through his shock (and gone through a couple of glasses of whiskey), Rufus took his second small sip of the night and then put his glass down with deliberate care. That was a tell; Rufus always got calm and controlled when he was about to do something that made him nervous. "So I guess the real question is, what are you going to do now?"
"What do you mean?"
"Are you going to go after Jess? You could quit the team, move back down to San Diego, try to get her back."
Wyatt hadn't really thought beyond the expletives yet, so Rufus' words hit him hard. Was that even possible? Jessica had divorced him five years ago. Sure, he could try to convince her to take him back, that he was a different person – hell, he was a different person, literally. "I'm not the guy she divorced." The Wyatt she had divorced had no idea what it was like to live without her, had apparently been stupid and incapable of holding on to what he had, although not stupid enough to leave his wife alone on the side of a road at night, at least.
He considered what it would mean to try and get Jessica back. "Of course, I'd have to break her and Bam-Bam up first."
"If you can," Rufus pointed out.
Wyatt frowned, wanting to object to the implication that he couldn't sabotage the relationship. Then it dawned on him what he was objecting too and his sank into his chair a bit more. "I don't know. Is that… would that even be fair?"
"Fair to who?"
"Anyone?" Wyatt shrugged. "I show up wanting to get back together, which I probably have tried before in this timeline, and I have to mess up her life first to do that, the life she has now."
"Yeah, you do."
Wyatt was reminded why Rufus could be such a pain in the ass. "Do you think that's fair to her? I mean, in this timeline, this is what she chose, right? Not to be with me." He thought back over the phone call, wishing he had recorded it somehow on his phone, just to have it for reassurance. "She sounded happy, Rufus."
"As happy as she was with you?"
Memories flew at him, of the years before the murder. They felt distant, like hearing a song you hadn't heard in a while coming on the radio out of the blue. He hadn't had much time to dwell the last three years. He was quiet for a minute, remembering. "I don't know. But I hurt her. The fight, that night, I hurt her. I've spent seven years hating myself for hurting her."
"And now you're looking at the prospect of hurting her all over again," Rufus filled in.
"Yeah. And this Wyatt, in this timeline, he must have kept hurting her." He had no doubt that the Wyatt from this timeline had loved Jessica fiercely, but things still got fucked up and painful enough for divorce to become the better option for Jess. "So I do it again, for what? To make myself happy? To, I don't know, prove to myself I can get her back, put everything back how it was? We both know that's not an option, not after all these years, not after messing with the timeline."
"No," Rufus agreed. "There's also no guarantee you can get her back. It could all be for nothing." Off Wyatt's look, he continued, "She's not the Jessica you lost. This one divorced you. If you're going to get her back, you'd have to get to know her all over again. It would be like starting a new relationship almost entirely."
Sensing his friend was getting at something, Wyatt frowned. "Spit it out, man."
"You're not the guy she divorced, but what if she's not the Jessica you remember either?" What if she's not the Jess you loved? Rufus didn't say it aloud but that was where he was going.
Wyatt tilted his glass, trying to think. If he left the team – and a cold pit opened in his stomach just at the thought of leaving them, of leaving Lucy especially, but he put that aside – and went to try and get Jessica back, he'd be wooing a stranger, basically. He couldn't count on his own memories to match up with this reality. This wasn't the Jess he'd been grieving for.
He wasn't the man who had been madly in love with her any more. He wasn't the man who had lost his wife and could think of nothing else either, until he stumbled into this crazy international conspiracy to alter history itself and met two people who gave him a sense of purpose again.
Until he met a woman who brought warmth back into his life when he thought it was gone for good.
"I'm not the same guy," he said, more to himself than to Rufus.
"Right, you're not the guy she divorced-"
"No," Wyatt interrupted. "It's me. I'm not the same guy who lost Jessica." He took another drink, but just a sip this time. "Seven years."
He'd spent those first years after the murder trying to find her killer, thinking that might bring him some sort of closure. Then he learned about time travel and suddenly there was a tantalizing possibility of fixing his worst mistake and he could barely think about anything else for a while. Only every effort failed. As much as he hated the thought, over time Wyatt had resigned himself to the possibility that Lucy's words, on that very first mission to the Hindenburg, might apply to Jess.
It was just her day.
Until it wasn't. Until two random women who were slated to die in Massachusetts in the 1600s didn't, and some unknown series of events changed and Jessica was alive.
They probably still had the same fight. He might still have left Jessica on the side of that road. Maybe he didn't let her out of his sight on the way home, or went back in 2 minutes, but that terrible, stupid moment hadn't cost Jess her life. He hadn't cost himself everything.
The Wyatt of seven years ago, hell even of four years ago, would've already been packing to drive south right now.
So what did it mean that he was sitting here getting drunk instead?
"We all have."
Rufus' expression darkened but he refocused on the current problem. "You told me once that you would give almost anything to get her back. You risked spending your life in federal prison for her. Did you ever consider that getting her back would mean you weren't together anymore?"
Wyatt slumped forward, elbows on the table. "Once or twice. I used to pray, you know, the way you promise ridiculous shit if only something you know is impossible would happen. I just wanted her alive and safe."
"You got it. So we return to the original question, what are you going to do now?"
There was a lengthy silence. "I need to see her," Wyatt concluded. "Not to get her back, I just, I need to see her with my own eyes. Know that this isn't some Rittenhouse mindfuck using a voice changer or something, you know?"
Rufus nodded, watching him without speaking. Because Wyatt had to make up his mind about this for himself. Because it wasn't just his life in the mix here. It was him and Rufus.
"But I think… my life is here, now."
Rufus pinned him with an angry look. "You mean Lucy is here. Come on, man, you know damn well this is about her."
Wyatt stared at the table, three years of missions and conversations and close calls and just moments with Lucy floating through his head. The initial attraction between them from the beginning had grown steadily through shared dangers and experiences that only the man sitting across the table from him now could understand. The connection with Lucy had wrapped itself around him so slowly, Wyatt hadn't realized its depth until he nearly lost her for good in Vienna, and then nearly died himself.
He used to try and convince himself his feelings for Lucy weren't the real thing, because it hadn't been like Jessica. It hadn't been the lightning bolt. It had been a hundred small sparks, stretched out over time, slowly coming together until he felt alive again for the first time in years when he was with her.
He had run away from that warmth more than once, until a few weeks ago he knew he didn't want to run any more.
"I love her." Lucy should be hearing this, he thought to himself. Rufus shouldn't be the first person he told that to.
He pushed the glass away. His voice grew stronger as certainty filled him. "I'm in love with Lucy. Now. I still love Jessica, I always will." That woman had ceased to exist seven years ago, and the man who was in love with that Jessica was gone now too. Nothing was bringing either of them back. "But I have to live in the present, not the past."
Wyatt had spent two years struggling to do that. As grateful as he was that Jess was alive and well, the last seven years hadn't been undone. And for the first time, he realized he didn't want to undo them. At least not completely.
Rufus smiled, although he probably had known that fact already. Wyatt was pretty sure his friend had been leading him to that conclusion the whole time. "So, third time being the charm, I ask, what are you going to do now?"
Wyatt stood up so fast his chair skidded across the floor. He had to grab the edge of the table to keep from falling down. All the whiskey was making itself evident. But he knew what he had to do. "I need to see her. Lucy."
Rufus got up as well, startled by the sudden change in Wyatt's mood. "Yeah, you're not driving anywhere, man."
"Fine, then you drive me. But I gotta see her."
"Are you sure that's a good idea? You're pretty drunk and she had a hell of a day today too. She might even be asleep by now. Maybe you both need some time alone."
Shit, that was true. Wyatt remembered, as if it was days ago, his original plan when they got back from Salem. He was going to take Lucy home, tell her how he felt about her, then keep watch over her for the nightmares he was sure she was going to have about today. Then the news about Jessica had been dropped on them all.
He remembered the way Lucy had refused to look at him in the conference room. She was closing herself off, trying to protect herself from being hurt again. Wyatt knew that, he knew her. She had lost so many people, been hurt by the people who claimed to love her over and over again. Wyatt and Rufus were all she had left. The three of them only had each other to rely on when on any given day they could come back from a mission to find everything different.
And today, the two of them had been so close to the next step, only to have things blow up in their faces, yet again. And he had let her walk away without explaining anything.
"I have to talk to her," Wyatt insisted. "She's hurt, and it's because of me. I at least have to see her, tell her that I'm not leaving her."
Rufus sighed. "Yeah, this has disaster written all over it." But he pulled his own car keys out.
Lucy tries to process everything that happened to her in one day, and then Wyatt and Rufus show up to add to the pile.
Don't be too hard on Lucy for this. She's had a terrible day on top of a couple of years of constant betrayal thrown at her.
Lucy sent Jiya away after the ice cream, claiming that she had a headache and was going to just go to bed. She liked Jiya, but right now she needed to be alone, especially after Jiya let it slip that in this timeline, Lucy had been dating Wyatt for months. There was too much to try to explain and she just wanted to brood.
Bypassing the wine, she went right for the beer in the fridge. She didn’t drink much anymore since they could be called to work any time, but she hoped the alcohol might make her sleepy.
All it did was make her sadder.
The news about Jessica had been the final straw of a very long couple of days. On top of three very long years. Lucy didn’t even burst into tears so much as they just overflowed. She sank down into her couch, hugging a pillow and crying, hating herself for wishing it was Wyatt holding her.
Or Amy. God, she missed her sister so much. Right now Amy would just hug her and let her cry and tell her it would be okay. She would save the I told you so’s about falling for a man she could never have for tomorrow.
Because wasn’t this really the final sign? For three years, Lucy had been trying not to fall for Wyatt. Whatever glimpses of possibilities there had been over the years, she was aware that his heart was too full of grief and guilt to move on. She wondered sometimes if Jessica’s death had been an accident or an illness, cleaner in some way, if Wyatt wasn’t carrying all of the self-hatred for her death, if things might have been different now. But in the end, he was carrying it, and the terrible combination of those emotions weighed on him, holding him back.
She envied Jessica a little. To be loved by someone that much, with so much devotion, must have been an amazing feeling. It was one Lucy would never know, she understood that now. The only person who had really loved her was her sister, and every day that passed pushed Amy farther away from her. There was no truth in any part of the rest of her life. Her mother’s love was pure lies, Rittenhouse’s machinations meant even her career and interests weren’t entirely her own. Her whole life had been a construct created by Rittenhouse to put her on their path, even down to their chosen fiancé.
The paranoid part of her brain feared that even now, when they were supposedly fighting Rittenhouse, she was still doing what they wanted her to do, still a puppet on invisible strings.
But no, she couldn’t think that way. Draining the rest of the cider she opened the second bottle. Rittenhouse had tried several times to go after Rufus and Wyatt, as well as Denise and even Mason. Never her, of course, never their precious pureblood princess, but their mission now was not Rittenhouse’s desire. There was that at least.
And of course, Rufus and Wyatt loved her. She loved them both too. You couldn’t go through all the horrors the three of them had seen and not form a bond with the other people.
But it wasn’t the same.
It wasn't enough.
She sank further into the couch cushions, the bottle dangling from her fingers.
She wasn't enough, was the truth. She just didn't inspire that kind of feeling in anyone. Too smart, too driven, too bossy, too independent. Too messed up now, after the last three years.
Her mother and father kept telling her she was destined for great things, but what they meant was she was Rittenhouse's perfect tool. Love and romance weren't part of her destiny.
Wasn't it better that way, she tried to reason with herself. The job they were doing was so important. World-changing. There wasn't room in that life for romance, for the petty arguments couples had about stupid things that distracted them from what really mattered. She could hardly go out there and travel through time and save history if she was fuming with Wyatt for something dumb, right?
It was good that nothing had really happened yet, she told herself firmly. A couple of kisses didn't amount to much, certainly nothing official. It was for the best, really, that it ended before it could begin. Imagine how much worse it would have hurt for Wyatt to get Jessica back after there had been any kind of official talk? Or after they'd had sex? Or were living together. God, if she had gotten to know what it was like to really be with him and then lose him then, Lucy couldn't imagine how badly that would hurt.
Maybe it would be better for it all to end here, she thought, looking down into the flames surrounding her. She inhaled the smell of smoke and burning flesh. Something was supposed to happen now, though, wasn't it? The fire wasn't supposed to be so close. Her legs were burning away while she watched. The pain wasn't supposed to be this bad.
Her lungs tightened as fear closed around her. She struggled against the ropes binding her hands. This was wrong. It was all wrong. She wasn't supposed to die like this.
Her eyes snapped open. Wyatt was kneeling in front of her. She was struggling against his hands. Rufus was just behind him. "You were dreaming, Lucy. It was just a dream," Rufus assured her.
She pulled her trembling hands free of Wyatt's grip, sitting up and running them down her legs, needing to reassure herself that they were still there. Her mind could still feel the phantom pain from the fire, mingling with the ache as she pressed too hard on the bandages.
"Lucy, look at me." Wyatt put his hands on her shoulders. "It was just a dream. You're safe."
She shook her head, her voice failing her. Wyatt kept telling her she was okay but she wasn't. Her heart was nearly beating out of her chest and she couldn't get enough air into her lungs. Black spots started to appear on the edges of her vision.
Wyatt realized what was happening and placed her hand against his chest. "Breathe, Luce. Nice and slow." His body moved as he inhaled and then exhaled. Lucy stared at her hand and managed a shallow, shaky breath, in time with his, in and then out. Then a second.
Rufus reappeared. He was holding a glass of water and some paper towels, which he used to mop up the bottle and mess on the floor. She must have dropped it in her sleep.
Once she had gotten some oxygen, Rufus held out the glass. "Small sips, okay?"
Her hand was unsteady but she managed to drink some of the water. Wyatt was still holding her other hand to his chest and his thumb was rubbing across her skin absently. She knew she should pull away but she couldn't make herself. "How'd you get here?"
Rufus waved his keychain. "Spare key, remember?"
"You were yelling," Wyatt put in. His focus hadn't moved from her and it was starting to make her squirm. "We knocked but you didn't answer, then we heard you call out."
The memory of the mission, and what had happened afterward, came back. Lucy yanked her hand away from Wyatt's grip and rubbed her face, leaning back to try and get some distance from him. She drank some more water and sighed. "I'm okay now."
The guys just looked at her with identical skeptical expressions. So she did what she always did – changed the subject. "What are you doing here?" She looked at Rufus. "I thought you went over to Wyatt's?"
"I did. And just for the record, he's had, like, a lot of alcohol tonight, so-"
"Rufus," Wyatt interrupted.
"I'm just saying."
"I needed to tell you something," Wyatt went on, sitting on the coffee table and looking at her.
"And that's my cue. I'm just going to go… keep the car warm. Or something. I'll be back in a bit." Rufus backpedaled for her front door, giving Lucy an apologetic look.
The possibilities of why Wyatt would want to come see her, especially this late, and why Rufus would look so worried about it, floated through her head and Lucy closed her eyes.
"I'm sorry about earlier," Wyatt started. "I checked my phone and saw that she called and I couldn't think about anything but calling her back. Turns out, she was calling to tell me she was moving in with Bam-Bam."
That news managed to pull Lucy from her own dread. "Wait, Dave? He's alive?" Amid her shock, this was at least one piece of genuinely good news.
Wyatt nodded. "Yeah, can you believe it? I mean, it makes sense. If Jess didn't die in this timeline, I never stole the lifeboat and got arrested."
"So he didn't go on the Lindbergh mission." That felt like a lifetime ago, when Garcia Flynn was their biggest problem. "I'm glad. He seemed like a good guy."
"He is. Other than, you know." Wyatt rubbed his face with one hand, kindly not saying aloud he's now apparently sleeping with the love of my life.
Wyatt went back to the subject of his ex-wife. "I knew, you know, something wasn't right when we started talking. Jess sounded really uneasy, and no wedding ring in my locker was kind of a hint. So I needed to find out what Mason had on Jessica, figure out what happened. All the missions, the times we've tried, and nothing and now she's alive but we're divorced?"
Lucy tried to speak, but he kept talking. She could see where this was going, Wyatt telling her how he had given up hope but now Jessica was alive and he could finally get what he had always wanted. He was going to leave the team and go get Jess back.
She couldn't do this now. She just couldn't.
"I couldn't get my brain around it, you know? We didn't even really change anything this time-"
She cut him off. "Wyatt, please."
"I can't… I can't do this. Not now. Not after everything that happened today. Please don't make me do this now." She knew she was begging and she hated herself for the weakness.
His expression was hurt but he reached for her hand. "Lucy, I know the timing is bad, but I had to tell you-"
"No." She jerked away and stood up, holding on to the edge of the couch when she stumbled over his legs, making her own injured leg scream in pain, but she had to get away from him. "I said I can't do this now! I nearly died a few hours ago, don't ask me to sit here and listen to your goodbye speech today!" Wyatt stood up, like he was going to follow her, but she held out a hand to ward him off. "I just can't. If you're leaving tonight, then call me from the road or something, but don't put me through this right now. Please."
Wyatt held up his hands. "Lucy, I didn't come here to say goodbye."
That didn't make any sense. "Why else would you be here this late?"
"I was worried about you. I know it must have hurt to find out about this, and I needed to apologize for not being here for you."
Why did he have to be so considerate? Especially right now, when she was trying to fortify her heart for the moment when he left her? "It's okay."
"No, it's not. I hurt you, and Lucy, I've spent years hating myself for hurting Jess. I can't do that with you. Especially with our day jobs."
"You didn't mean to, I know that. You were shocked and upset."
"That's not a good reason to let you get hurt."
Lucy was so tired, she honestly couldn't remember what type of hurt he was referring to, her emotions or the near-death experience. Plus her leg was still throbbing. She needed to get this conversation over with, take some of the painkillers they had given her and sleep. "I'll survive. That's not all you came here to tell me anyway, right?"
"No." He took a step forward but hesitated, like he didn't want to upset her but knew he was going to anyway. "Lucy…" Again he didn't seem to know how to start and she knew this was the knife going in.
So she drove it home for him. "You're still leaving, that's what you came to say. I knew you would. And I get it, Wyatt. I understand."
Some of his uneasiness disappeared and those blue eyes of his fixed on her with a warmth so convincing, it made her almost hate him. "No, Lucy, I'm not leaving you-"
"Wyatt, you can't do both. You can't go be Jessica's husband and still be on the team." It would be easier on her not to have to see him every day, although the thought of going out there without him was nearly as painful. "I know you feel responsible for us but you have to live your life. You finally have what you always wanted. Nobody is going to blame you for going."
His temper sparked and he moved toward her. "Lucy, will you just listen to me for one damn minute?"
But she was verging on hysterics and shouted at him. "It's Jessica, Wyatt! Your Jessica!"
"No it's not." His words were so unexpected, Lucy was shocked into silence. Wyatt shook his head. "She's not. My Jess… she died seven years ago. The woman who is here and alive now? She isn't the same person."
Lucy hadn't considered that. This Jessica had lived all that time. She had divorced Wyatt as well. This went beyond the passage of a little time. The woman who lived in this timeline was not the person Wyatt remembered.
"It's not that I'm not grateful," Wyatt went on. "I am. I'm so glad she's here and she's alive. And that she's happy. But she's not her." He moved closer and Lucy didn't object this time, frozen by the raw look on his face. "And I'm not the guy who lost her anymore. I still love that Jess. I will always love the woman I was married to. But Lucy, that doesn't mean… it doesn't mean I love you any less now." There was a slight tremble in his voice as he said it but once the words were out, Wyatt relaxed, like a burden was off his shoulders.
Lucy couldn't process his words right away. He wasn't leaving to go to Jessica? He loved her? Enough to say it out loud, and not just because one or both of them was near death?
"I love you," he repeated, stepping into her personal space. He was looking at her, afraid and hopeful at the same time.
"I…" she didn't know what to say. In spite of knowing the possible pain this could lead to, she wanted to believe it. She wanted to say it back, wanted to fall into his arms and never let him go.
But there had been so many lies in her life. People who she thought loved her lying right to her face without flinching. It just never seemed to stop.
This was Wyatt, her mind argued back. Wyatt had never lied to her. He had been there when she needed him through everything. She trusted him with her life.
Why was trusting him with her heart scarier than that?
Like he could sense the war going on inside her, he looked into her eyes. "It's okay. You don't have to say anything right now."
His hands cupped her face. "I get it, Lucy. I know what you've been through in the last few years. Hell, just today. We both have a lot to process right now." His thumb brushed away a tear that had escaped. "Just know that I'll be here tomorrow and the day after that, and the day after that, for as long as we get. I will keep telling you that I love you until you know it's true."
She started to cry again and Wyatt folded his arms around her. It was impossible not to sink into him, right where she'd wanted to be for hours. Years. He rubbed her back and didn't say anything about her soaking his shirt, just stood there comforting her until she wiped at her eyes and nose, her head still resting against his shoulder.
His lips pressed against her forehead, one of his hands sliding up to hold the back of her neck. Lucy drew back just enough to look up at him. Wyatt's eyes were on her lips but he leaned down slowly, giving her time to pull away.
The kiss was gentler than the one earlier that day. Objectively she knew it wasn't that great of a kiss. Her nose was stuffed up and she had to pull away several times to breathe. She could taste the salt from her tears and knew Wyatt could as well, but he just stood there, brushing his lips against hers over and over, and a calmness stole through her, like just having him there was enough to ground her again.
"Okay, we really need to set up some ground rules about this!" Rufus' exclamation broke the peaceful bubble. He was standing in her door, holding up a hand and shaking his head, although she thought he looked amused. At least, he did until he glanced down. "Um, Lucy? Your leg is bleeding."
All three of them looked down and Lucy realized the stinging pain had been from more than just bumping her leg. Blood was trickling down to her sock.
Wyatt ushered her into the bathroom and insisted on changing her bandages. She'd broken open the skin and some of the blisters in her desperation to get away from him earlier. Wyatt perched on the edge of the bathtub, her foot in his lap while Rufus handed him supplies from her first aid stash. All of them had become familiar with basic medical care over the last few years, and Lucy at least had more stuff for emergencies in her medicine cabinet than a normal person.
Her head was spinning and she tugged the sweater she was wearing around her more tightly as she yawned again and again. "You still with us?" Rufus asked her, rubbing her shoulder.
"You need to get to bed, Lucy." She managed to crack her eyes open and found Wyatt turning pink in the face, which would've been hilarious if she wasn't so exhausted. "To sleep," he clarified. Off Rufus' look he added irritably, "Alone."
She was so tired, but she shivered, remembering her earlier dream. "Don't want to sleep," she mumbled, unable to explain further.
Wyatt leaned forward and squeezed her hands. "I'll stay on the couch, okay?"
Rufus said something and Wyatt responded, but she couldn't follow the conversation or even open her eyes. Distantly she thought she felt Wyatt holding her again? Then she was warm and her pillow was under her head and she fell into the darkness completely.
Wyatt basically goes back to his original plan of helping Lucy get through the aftermath of the mission, with some added steps.
One more chapter after this one!
After Wyatt carried Lucy into her bedroom (which spawned a whole set of thoughts in his head he had to push back because this was not the time for that) and got her settled, he grabbed her extra pillow and went to make up the couch. Rufus argued with him for a few minutes but in the end, all three of them were exhausted and it made more sense for Wyatt to crash on Lucy's couch rather than Rufus driving him home, then coming back here to sleep so she wasn't alone all night.
Rufus headed for the door, but he paused. "Given what I saw when I walked in, I'm assuming things are okay with you two?"
Wyatt smiled. "Yeah, we're good. Probably a lot more talking tomorrow, but you know."
"Yeah and more the day after that and the day after that," Rufus said knowingly. "For what it's worth, I'm happy for you both. And about Jessica."
They said their goodnights and Wyatt made sure the door was locked. He used the bathroom and took one last look into Lucy's bedroom. She was completely out of it, which was good. She needed the sleep. They both did.
He fell asleep quickly. Eventually, the nightmares started and he woke up gasping, rubbing his eyes to get the image of Lucy surrounded by flames and screaming for him out of his head.
He sat up, his senses straining. The apartment was dark and still, no imminent threats. Wyatt concentrated on his breathing, calming his heart rate. It wasn't enough, though. Giving in to temptation, he got up and walked soundlessly down the hallway and peeked into the bedroom. He needed to see Lucy, reassure himself that she was all right.
Except she wasn't. As he reached the door, he could hear her whimpering. He went inside to find Lucy lying rigid on the bed, her head moving back and forth like it had been out on the couch earlier.
Wyatt sat down next to her, careful not to touch her bandages. "Lucy, wake up. It's just a dream. You're safe. Come on, sweetheart, wake up." He kept speaking, his hand running along her arm lightly. Shaking her awake was a bad idea with this kind of dream, he knew that from personal experience. But if he could reach her, get her to wake up on her own...
Finally after a couple of minutes she relaxed a little bit. With a deep breath her eyes flew open and she bolted upright, looking around frantically. He touched her face, turning her head to look at him. "Hey, hey, look at me. Look at me, Lucy. It's okay. It was just a dream."
Her brown eyes met his and to his surprise, she whispered "Wyatt" and then lunged forward and held on to him tightly. "You're here."
"I'm here," he agreed, smoothing his hand over her hair. "Not going anywhere."
She shook her head against his shoulder. "You left. You walked away… the fire, I was…"
Shit. She must have been dreaming about the fire and imagined he had left her there to die. His arms tightened, probably squeezing too hard, but he didn't care. "I would never leave you like that, Lucy. Never. It was just a dream."
He rocked her back and forth a bit as Lucy sniffled against his shirt and he kissed her hair. Eventually some of the tension left her body and she reached for the tissues on her nightstand. "I'll be right back," he told her and quickly grabbed a glass of water for her. "Here. You're gonna dehydrate yourself if you keep this up." That got him a small smile.
After drinking the water, she put the glass down and turned back to him. She moved as if to reach for him, then jerked her hand back. "Did I wake you up?"
Wyatt shook his head. He reached out and put a hand over hers. "I woke up from a bad dream and came to check on you."
Even with the dim light, her eyes met his and filled with understanding. The moment she leaned toward him, he pulled her close.
He didn't know how long they sat there but his body was growing heavy and Lucy was half-asleep leaning against him. He knew they both needed to get more rest, but the thought of going back out to the couch and leaving her here was beyond his ability just then. "Scoot over a little."
When she moved, he turned and laid down on his back on the bed. Lucy blinked at him, hesitating. Wyatt held out his arm in invitation. "C'mere."
She lowered herself down so that her head was on his shoulder. Wyatt tucked her body against his side and sighed in contentment. She fit just right against him, but he already knew that. "Do you remember 1814?" he asked lowly, his thumb running lightly down her shoulder.
Lucy nodded. "Hiding from the redcoats in that barn." The loft of the barn had been damp and unpleasant. They had slept much like this, on a pile of hay, for a few hours before going to find Rufus outside of Washington, where he was helping Dolley Madison escape the British.
"I like this better," Wyatt told her.
Lucy huffed out a laugh. Her palm moved, resting over his heart. "Wyatt?" Her voice was muffled, like she was already falling asleep.
"I'm sorry for..." the rest was too mumbled for him to make out.
"Sorry for what?"
"That I didn't… I wanna tell you… I love you too."
Lucy drifted off completely in his arms. Wyatt just laid there, looking down at her, smiling to himself like a fool. She probably wouldn't remember this in the morning. He didn't care. He had thought – hoped - she loved him too, but hearing it, even when she wasn't fully conscious, made his heart pound.
He understood why she hadn't said it earlier. He'd been there, after all, to pick up the pieces as people who Lucy thought loved her turned out to be liars or outright evil. Saying it out loud was practically daring the universe to screw her over by now.
At some point, when things had calmed down, she would be able to tell him in the light of day, because his Lucy was not a coward. But he could wait for that.
For the moment, he kissed her forehead. "I love you, babydoll." She snuggled into him and Wyatt closed his eyes and let sleep take him, hoping the nightmares would leave the both of them alone for the rest of the night now.
Lucy wakes up in her bed, not alone, and tries to sort through everything.
When she woke up, Lucy’s sleep-addled brain initially panicked at the sight of a broad, decidedly male figure in bed with her. Had she time-traveled here somehow? To a timeline where she was engaged to Noah again?
Or, dear Lord, someone other than Noah?
Her eyes moved up from the black t-shirt to the man’s face and she breathed out in relief. Not Noah. Wyatt.
Wyatt was in bed with her.
Wyatt was in her bed? This was her bedroom.
Why was he here?
A quick glance showed that both of them were fully clothed, so that eliminated one possibility. Lucy wasn’t sure if she was relieved or disappointed.
As she stared at him she felt her expression soften. He looked younger when he was asleep, especially when it was peaceful, like now. She had wondered what it would be like to wake up in the morning in his arms. She wished she could cuddle into his hold and drift back to sleep but this wasn’t right, none of it. She and Wyatt didn’t share a bed unless they were on a mission...
Their last mission reared its ugly head in her memories. She dimly remembered waking up overnight from a bad dream. Wyatt had been there, calming her down. They must have fallen asleep together.
The rest of the night came back to her. Wyatt was in her apartment because he had come here the night before to tell her he wasn’t leaving, that he wasn’t going after Jessica, that he loved her…
Unless she had dreamed that part?
“Morning.” Even though his voice was soft, Lucy still jumped. He huffed out a laugh. “Sorry.”
“Are not,” she mumbled, rubbing her eyes.
“Did you sleep okay?”
She nodded, not sure what to say. She was still sorting through memories of the day before and what it all meant.
The silence between them lengthened. Wyatt reached up and brushed her hair back from her face. “I can hear you thinking, you know.”
“Sorry, I’m just, you know, processing.”
Wyatt frowned. “Lucy, did I overstep? Sleeping here, I mean. I just thought we would both sleep better if I was here, but-”
She caught up with what he was worried about and shook her head. “No, Wyatt, it’s fine. I’m glad you were here.” It was more than that, she admitted to herself. She wanted to wake up like this every morning. But that was a dangerous thing to be thinking about. Or was it? If what he said the night before was real, this could be the first of many mornings like this. Eventually. She wanted that so much, but did she dare hope for it?
“Okay. But you’re still worrying about something.”
She sighed. “Part of me is wondering if I’m dreaming. I mean, did we actually talk last night? Did all of…” she waved a hand, unable to sum up everything that had occurred and everything he had said the night before, “that really happen?”
He laughed again. “Yeah, I know what you mean, but no, you didn’t imagine it. And you’re not dreaming now.” He shifted closer and she felt a gentle kiss being pressed against her forehead, which honestly did not make this feel any less of a dream. Her breath caught at the tenderness of the gesture and her hand went to his chest involuntarily. He was warm and solid and real.
And because Wyatt knew her too well, he asked, “What else?”
Lucy didn’t respond. She was torn between wanting to pull him closer and wanting to get out of bed and away from him, just in case. She remembered him saying the words to her, and remembered not being able to say them back. She wanted to. She wanted this so much.
Wyatt propped himself up on his elbow, his hand cupping her cheek. “Come on, Lucy, talk to me.”
A hundred things went through her mind. She settled on the most basic truth. “I’m scared,” she blurted out.
“Of hoping. Of believing in this. What happens if we actually agree to do this and something changes?” Once she started talking, the words kept pouring out, faster and faster. “What if you change your mind? What if I do? What if we can’t make this work? What if I’m not enough for you? What if we break up and it destroys the team? What if we change something in the timeline again or, what if you get hurt? What if you die, Wyatt?”
As usual, when she got more hysterical, Wyatt grew annoyingly calm and certain. “Those aren’t reasons to be scared, Lucy. They’re reasons to enjoy whatever time we get.” He leaned down and fixed his eyes on hers. “Except the part about me changing my mind or you not being good enough for me. That’s bullshit. I love you and I am not going anywhere.” The conviction, the certainty in his voice was impossible to argue with. Lucy closed her eyes but her fingers clenched around his t-shirt at the same time. So many bad outcomes were whirling through her head, she didn't know what to do.
She would give anything to just embrace this moment, tell him that she loved him, stay here with him, hidden away from the world, somewhere that it might be possible that the person she loved so much loved her back. But reality was lurking out there no matter what she wanted, as she knew all too well.
And in reality, Lucy Preston pretty much never got what she wanted.
Wyatt just waited silently until she licked her lips and whispered without looking at him, “What happens if I let myself have this and it just gets taken away too?”
He didn't speak right away. Then he wrapped his hand around hers. “I’m scared too.”
She had been expecting him to say something reassuring, so that made her look up and met his eyes in surprise. “Every day, we go out there and something could change that wrecks everything. Or something could happen to you. And it would be my fault. Again. I could lose you just like I lost Jess.” His voice shook and he looked away from her. “I’m not sure I can go through that again, Lucy.”
She felt like an idiot. A selfish idiot. She’d been so wrapped up in her own head, she hadn’t stopped to think what Wyatt was opening himself up to by being with her. He'd already lost someone he loved and here he was willing to start another relationship and risk putting himself through that again. Not that her life had been a picnic for the last few years, but she hadn't really considered what this meant for him.
He kept going before she could find the words to apologize.
"I’ve been holding back for months because of that." Lucy filed that fact away to be examined later. "But I realized something yesterday. Even if something happens… I don’t want to not know what it's like to be with you. I don't want to have nothing to remember." His blue eyes fixed on hers again. "I don't want to make decisions out of fear."
Wyatt's words seemed to open up something inside of her. Yes, she was scared of being hurt again. She was especially scared because of how deep her feelings for him ran, down to the marrow of her bones. It would be as bad as losing Amy.
But it already hurt when something happened to him. It already hurt when she thought she might lose him. That wasn't going to change whether she told him she loved him or not, whether they were officially together or not.
So she had a choice to make. Wasn't that what Wyatt had always believed? That their lives were about choices, sometimes painfully hard ones, that they made? She had made a lot of difficult choices in the last three years, choices where millions of lives hung in the balance.
This? Was not a hard choice. It was the easiest choice she'd ever made.
Her hand slid up his chest to wrap around the back of his neck. She pulled his head down so she could kiss him. Words were failing her at the moment, but Wyatt didn't seem to mind that for once she'd chosen actions rather than words. He shifted against her side, settling himself so that he could kiss her back. When his lips parted her tongue slipped into his mouth, making him moan. Her arms wrapped around him, her fingers stroking the short hair on the back of his neck while her other hand traced the solid muscles of his back as she explored his mouth thoroughly.
When they had to come up for air, she couldn't resist biting lightly on his lower lip. Wyatt stared at her, his eyes darkening, and she smiled, a bit embarrassed. "Been wanting to do that for a while."
He grinned at her and her heart skipped a couple of beats. That stupid smirk of his was distracting enough on a normal day. Up close it was impossible. He rolled forward a bit, pushing her onto her back and propping himself up over her. He leaned down and kissed her jaw then moved down her throat, exploring her skin slowly until he found a sensitive spot just over her collarbone. He lingered there, the scratch of his beard stubble contrasting with the softness of his lips until she moaned his name.
The smug jerk was still grinning at her when he pulled away. "Since we're talking about things we've wanted to do for a while," he told her before diving back in to kiss her again. Like that kiss back in Massachusetts, this was deep and slow and hungry and Lucy just fell into it. Everything outside of the bed disappeared. There was nothing but Wyatt's mouth, his body covering hers, her hands wandering over whatever of him she could reach. God, this was amazing. How had she thought she could resist doing this?
One of his thighs settled between hers and Lucy realized, with a shiver of anticipation, that she could feel him growing hard inside his jeans, even with the blanket between them. She had been sure Wyatt found her attractive for a while now, but the intimacy of this, lying in bed and making out with him and feeling his body responding to touching her, made warmth spread all the way down to her toes.
Wyatt broke the kiss and pulled back. He looked down at her like he was going to ask about how fast things were moving, but they were interrupted when her stomach growled so loudly her body visibly shook.
At least for once it wasn't Rufus.
"Oh my God," Lucy mumbled, her cheeks turning pink in embarrassment. Having no other way to hide from him given the position they were in, she covered her face with her hands and groaned.
Wyatt burst out laughing above her. He tugged her hands away from her face. "Okay, okay, hint taken. Why don't we get cleaned up and I'll buy you breakfast?"
The thought of pancakes nearly made her drool. She hadn't eaten anything but ice cream last night, and before that she couldn't remember clearly her last meal. "Yeah, that sounds perfect."
He slid away from her and stood. He made quite a sight, his hair a mess, his shirt rumpled from sleeping, and his jeans hanging low on his hips. She almost wanted to forget about food. But he held out a hand to help her sit up and glanced at her leg. "I should check your bandages again too."
Lucy nodded. She squeezed his hand and looked up at him. "Wyatt…" There was a lot they still needed to talk about. A lot she wanted to say, if she could find the words.
He seemed to guess what she was thinking. He leaned down and kissed her - she could get used to this, being able to kiss him whenever she felt like it – and smiled. "One problem at a time, okay? Bandages, then breakfast. Deal?"