A/N : ummm to start with, BIG apology to anyone who got really excited about a new story from me and then got really super bummed when they realized it wasn't for PLL (or Gilmore Girls, which has now also betrayed me, IS NOTHING SACRED?). But anyway, spam me with hate mail if you need to. You've earned that right.
Secondly, MY NEW FAVE SHOW IS TIMELESS AND EVERYONE SHOULD WATCH IT. ...unless it gets cancelled, but watch the first season anyway. No regrets, it's that good. I am so dead over this show. I was basically permanently done with writing FF until Wyatt Logan and Lucy Preston demanded otherwise. I haven't shipped anything this hard in a longgg time. Ugh. #RENEWTIMELESS
Lastly, I do not own any of this, I am not NBC, blah blah blah. If I owned it, it would be on the air forever and ever amen.
"Rittenhouse would never allow it."
"How do you think I met your father?"
"And that almost makes you royalty."
Lucy hears the same fragments of conversation swirl around her repeatedly, the consonants and vowels blurring together in a rhythm so palpable that she can almost reach out into the space in front of her and snatch the words right out of the air, ball them up in her fists and throw them as far as humanly possible. But she doesn't move, can't send a signal to her cemented feet, can't run or hide from this home; the house that keeps getting further and further from the one that exists in her memories. The walls, the furniture, the glow from the fireplace, and the looming staircase - it all looks the same as she's always known it to be, and yet everything blurs together and rearranges into something far more sinister and cold.
Her head is spinning. The silence swallows her whole. Every rational instinct has long since left her, abandoned her in this place that is no longer recognizable. How long she's sat in this spot, she has no idea. Time ticks on all around her, but she sits without a word and lets the darkness close in, lets it sweep her far away from the life she once knew.
"Rittenhouse would never allow it."
Wyatt Logan's head snapped upward the second he heard the click of heels moving briskly down the corridor of Mason Industries, finally able to release an exhale of relief at the sound. The Lifeboat was still a little more than an hour from reaching a full charge, so it wasn't as if there was any pressing reason for her to get back quickly, but Lucy had said she'd be one hour. One hour for her to run whatever errand she'd left to accomplish, and then she was supposed to be here, probably full of nervous energy while rambling about the finer points of etiquette in 1979 and her grand scheme to make her mom fall in love with Henry Wallace all over again.
So when his watch chimed at the top of the hour, he'd expected to see her come striding in at any given moment. Finding himself weirdly disappointed by her tardiness, he'd paced the room for a while, then moved on to wander around the rest of the facility, discreetly checking to see if anyone else had seen or heard from her, glanced down at his watch about a hundred times a minute, and finally settled into the staff lounge area several minutes ago. She still wasn't back. If that weren't bad enough, their last conversation was reverberating through his brain without reprieve, filling him with a tornado of unexpected emotion. He hadn't felt much of anything in the years since Jessica had died; his senses had been dulled, leaving him numb to the rest of the world that supposedly still existed beyond his own heartbreak. To say that his developing feelings toward Lucy had pulled the rug out from beneath his feet was a massive understatement.
And now she was back, safe and sound, and it was all he could do to not leap up from the couch to greet her.
Except the sound of clicking heels didn't belong to Lucy. It was Agent Christopher who appeared in the doorway, and the bleak look she sent in his direction was enough to send a zap of dread straight through him.
"Wyatt," she gave him a clipped nod in acknowledgement, "do you know where Lucy is right now?"
That zap of dread turned into a full-on flood of panic. The question was posed with her usual no-nonsense tone, and yet he instantly identified a waver in her voice, a nearly invisible note of dismay that confirmed the worst. "No. She said she needed to go do something and would be back in an hour. It's been almost two."
"And she didn't say wh- "
"No, she didn't tell me where she was going or what she was doing," he said in a rush, already on his feet and ready to follow Agent Christopher's next order, whatever it may be. "Do you know something?"
She pursed her lips together in a compact line for an agonizing second of silence before answering. "The tech team assigned to sorting through Cahill's Rittenhouse files uncovered new information. It was deeply encrypted intel, something Cahill himself probably didn't understand when he recorded it."
"What? What is it?"
"It's Lucy's mother, Wyatt. She's Rittenhouse."
He turned his head away and closed his eyes, her announcement slamming into him with a physical force.
"We're leaving to make the arrest now, but I wanted to break the news to Lucy first. She's...she's not answering her phone."
He lifted his gaze, shell-shocked and pissed off all at once, an ugly string of curse words flying out of him just as her cell began to buzz from the clip at her belt. Wyatt watched as she pulled the phone from her hip in what felt like slow motion before she shook her head at him, immediately deflating the balloon of hope that had formed in his chest without his consent.
"I'm sorry, I have to take this," she said abruptly, darting back into the hall with the phone's speaker already pressed to her ear.
"Like hell am I just sitting tight in here," he muttered to no one, racing after her without hesitation.
Within seconds, the entire compound was swept into utter pandemonium, agents buzzing around from one spot to the next like a swarm of disrupted bees. Wyatt caught the news in bits and pieces, barely tracking with Agent Christopher as she charged into the melee without a glance backward.
The Mothership was gone, stolen again, a collection of bodies left in its wake.
There was still no word from Lucy.
Pendleton would definitely have to wait now.
Impatience rattled through Wyatt with the gusto of a train chugging right off the tracks. He had already double and triple checked everything from his ammo to his shoelaces. If they didn't get a green light to proceed in the next 30 seconds, he was going to break down the door himself, consequences be damned.
"Yeah, I was thinking about texting you the next time that I need a reckless hothead."
Wyatt shook his head, trying to free himself from the echo of Lucy's voice from earlier in the day. If he let himself go there - relive that conversation again - he'd never be able to concentrate on the task at hand.
An entire SWAT team was stationed a block away from the Prestons' home, and while he knew he was only invited along as a courtesy - certainly not a move that aligned too well with protocol - his initial gratitude toward Agent Christopher had long since evaporated. Lucy's car was parked in front of the house, an unavoidable reminder of what he stood to lose if they didn't get in there sooner rather than later. There was so much waiting, so much damn red tape, so much wasted time.
Time that could be the difference between Lucy living or dying.
He growled under his breath, suddenly nostalgic for the kind of mission where he was the expert in combat, the only one with any tactical credentials. There was no hierarchy limiting his every move or bureaucracy breathing down his neck once they took off in the Lifeboat. Just a team of three: the soldier, the engineer, the historian.
And there he was, back to thinking about Lucy...about the way her eyes lit up when she got all starstruck over meeting a beloved historical figure, the vision of her high-heeled foot pressed dead center against the chest of his Rittenhouse-appointed replacement as she called out to him in total victory - we're okay, we made it; the way she watched him as he maneuvered the straps of her seat belt into place, how her hand shook inside of his own after Lincoln's assassination...
"You ready, Logan?"
He promptly came to attention at the sound of his last name, nodding and falling into position near the back of the group. They were finally on the move, and as much as he wanted to be on the front line of the operation, this was good enough...for now.
Agent Christopher caught his arm just as they closed in around the yard's perimeter, fixing him with a knowing stare. "Follow their lead. No heroics, got it?"
He smirked in reply, masking his inner turbulence in the only way he knew how - with glib deflection. "Got it. Same to you."
And then he was off, boots squishing through the damp night grass, praying that they weren't already too late. Or better yet, hoping that this whole thing was a ridiculous misunderstanding, and that Lucy would crack open the door at any moment, wrapped in that floral robe with sleep marring her hair and features as she scrambled to comprehend why her front lawn was suddenly engulfed with government agents.
But she didn't come to the door. No one did. Agents spilled into the warm light of the entryway, all scattering in different directions, shouts of "clear" already beginning to ring out as they swept from room to room.
On nothing but instinct, Wyatt took the stairs three at a time, forcefully ignoring the memory of Lucy sitting there with tears stinging her eyes after he dropped the bomb about stealing the time machine to save Jessica. He quickly spotted a black-clad agent systematically searching through the first room on the left, so Wyatt chose a room at the opposite corner of the hall and began to do the same. If he was being honest with himself, it already felt like a lost cause. The house was too quiet, too still. If Lucy was here, she would have found a way to reach out to them by now, even if she was being held captive. She was more resourceful than he had ever expected her to be, and a fighter at the core - the woman did not give up, not even in the ugliest of circumstances. She knew what it meant to be down, but she was never out.
Defeat began to take over as he left another deserted room and shouldered his way into the next. Once again, he was met with nothing. No noise. No movement. An empty duffel bag sat open on top of a perfectly made bed, but that was it, not another thing was out of place.
And just as he was ready to turn back to the doorway, he saw it.
Just a hint of dark hair was visible between the antique dresser and an overstuffed leather chair, an impossibly small alcove formed by the two pieces of furniture. Impossibly small to him, anyway...but for someone as slight as Lucy...
Wyatt holstered his gun slowly, his voice nearly trapped somewhere inside of him. "Lucy?"
It was thunderously quiet. The sound of his own labored breathing dominated the air.
"Lucy?" he repeated with a shudder running right through her name. He moved closer, his fear becoming so overwhelming that he thought he might be sick to his stomach. Once he'd rounded the edge of the bed, part of her forehead came into sight, and then all of his training took over as he reassessed the area and then cautiously nudged the chair to the side.
Her body was curled up into a tiny ball against the wall, most of her face hidden against the tops of her knees, her arms wound tightly around her legs. He knelt in front of her, unnerved at the complete lack of reaction. She remained motionless...unresponsive. He reached for her, automatically in search of a pulse, but the moment his fingers made rustling contact with skin, she flinched violently away from him with a startling whimper.
"Oh my god, Lucy," he breathed out, overcome with relief. "It's okay, it's just me. It's okay."
But as he reached out a second time, she flinched again, another sharp whimper emanating from her huddled form.
With one last lingering look of desperation in her direction, he reluctantly turned his head and called out through the house - "I have a civilian up here, send in the medics!"
His request was met with an affirmative from somewhere that seemed very far off, and then he returned his attention to Lucy, the weight of his concern and affection mingling together as he took a moment to collect himself.
"Hey, Lucy...it's Wyatt. I..." he paused as his voice splintered, blinking several times before continuing. "I'm here now, okay? Whatever it is, whatever happened, I'm here and I...I need you to be okay."
Her head moved a fraction higher, a glimpse of her brown gaze coming up over the curve of her knees. The electricity that surged through him at that - at simply seeing her eyes - was almost his undoing. He sent a flimsy smile back at her.
"Hey, there you are," he whispered. "Help is on the way, alright? It's -"
His words were swallowed right up as a swirl of heavy footsteps and shouting voices filtered into the room, fracturing the fragile atmosphere he'd been working so hard to maintain. Tears immediately filled her eyes, her breath came out in wrenching rises and falls, her body shaking with earthquake-like tremors.
"No, Lucy, it's okay," he miraculously kept an even tone, his hands coming to rest on either side of her face, locking their eyes together. "They're the good guys, I promise."
He whipped his head to the side to address the influx of field agents and EMTs - "Would you guys cool it for a second? You're scaring her."
The EMTs took his cue and began to dispel the rest of the crowd, but Wyatt paid no mind to the specifics of what went on around him. He found her watery gaze again, tried once more to calm the panic that had overtaken her. His thumbs stroked slowly over her cheekbones, and if he took comfort in nothing else, at least she wasn't shying away from his touch anymore.
"I know about your mom, Lucy."
She tried to look away from him then, and from somewhere in the background he distantly heard Denise Christopher admonishing him for being so blunt, but he pressed on with confidence.
"And I'm sorry. I am so, so sorry. But you aren't alone, okay? We will get through this just one thing at a time, remember?"
There was no verbal response, not even a nod to let him know that she'd heard his reassurances, but she was meeting his eyes again in spite of the tears that ran down her face and slipped against the skin of his palms.
"One thing at a time," he repeated tenderly, "and for right now, we've got to get you checked out by the medics, make sure you aren't hurt...so just breathe, okay? Let them do their job. I won't go far, you have my word."
Her mouth trembled, opened ever so slightly, and to his astonishment she responded with a stuttering, "o-okay."
He felt his own set of tears threatening to come to the surface, but held them back for her sake. Wyatt smiled with a shake of his head, in awe of her for what felt like the millionth time in just the course of a few months. "Atta girl. I'll stay close, okay?"
It felt like he was being pried away from her with a crowbar, but it was nothing as dramatic as that. He simply stood on reluctant legs and got out of the way, the aftereffects of stress and adrenaline beginning to seep into his consciousness. He watched with his heart in his throat as the EMTs took his place and began their examination. Lucy closed her eyes, responding to their hushed questions with a small nod here and there.
"Wyatt? A word, please."
He glanced upward to see Agent Christopher observing him with an unreadable expression. He acquiesced with a heavy sigh, following her out of the room and into another doorway directly across the hall, planting himself there with half an ear still attuned to what was happening in the bedroom he had just vacated.
"You can relax, she's in good hands," she offered with a consoling look.
Wyatt just shrugged, not interested in being placated. "I'll feel better when I can get her out of this house and away from all of her cracked-out family members. Benjamin Cahill was one thing, but this..? It's insane."
She lifted a solitary eyebrow at him. "That's actually what I wanted to talk to you about."
"About Benjamin Cahill? I thought he was in custody at -"
"He is,"she interrupted with a nod, "but I meant the part about getting Lucy out of here. I certainly appreciate your assistance tonight, but - "
"But?" he broke in, feeling his spine prickle at the thought of what was coming.
"I think that's enough for the time being. You should go home and get some rest, let Homeland Security handle this until we have a chance to formulate our next move."
He gritted his teeth together, trying to keep his cool in spite of her not-so-passive attempt at dismissal. "Handle what, exactly? I'll gladly go home and let you sort out this mess with Rittenhouse and the Mothership, but what about Lucy? Where is she supposed to go? Obviously she's not staying here."
Christopher tilted her head, her face not betraying a single emotion. "I will deal with that, Wyatt. That's my job, not yours. Lucy will be fine with a little time."
"Look..." he started, his brow pinching together as he stepped further away from where Lucy could possibly overhear him. "She may be in a state of shock right now, but it's gonna be so much worse when she snaps out of it and has to deal with the truth all over again. When that happens, she should be with someone she trusts...and that list just shrank down to what - four people after today? Rufus and Jiya have their own crisis to deal with, and I can't imagine that you're exactly available to put her up at your house after what just went down in the last few hours. You'll be lucky if you get any sleep tonight, let alone do you have the time to look after her." His jaw clenched with an aggravation that could not be curbed despite his best efforts. "I'm her best option."
"I realize that there aren't many alternatives right now, but I have to consider the bigger picture for everyone involved. Lucy is extremely vulnerable right now, and I know your intentions are noble, but ultimately I think this arrangement of yours may do more harm in the long-term than it will good."
He recoiled at her words, a scowl stamped deeply across his features. "What is that supposed to mean?"
"Don't take it personally, Wyatt," she returned with a shake of her head, "I'm just trying to do what's right for the both of you. I'll set up a safe house for her to stay in, something outside of the city with a team of agents patrolling 24-7."
"A safe house?!" He spun away from her for a moment before turning back with fire in his eyes. "That's your idea of doing what's right for her? Locking her away in some random place, surrounding her with strangers, and isolating her indefinitely when - "
She cut him off with steely resolve. "Until we can help her transition into something more permanent, yes. That's the plan. Now you tell me - are you prepared to do the same? To take her home to your apartment, also indefinitely? You think that's a sustainable solution for her right now? Have you thought through the implications of that setup?"
Wyatt's posture shifted backward, anger lingering in his gaze while the rest of him seemed suspended in disbelief. His voice came much softer this time, grim resignation lining each word. "This...this is about Jessica, isn't it? You don't think I can handle it. I'm reliable enough to follow Lucy through several centuries of history, to protect her from Flynn and enemy armies and a million unknowns, but not reliable enough to give her a safe place to sleep and eat in the twenty-first century?"
"I know you mean well, Wyatt, but from where I'm standing, the situation is...complicated."
"Complicated," he repeated with a scoff. "You don't think I'm - "
His reply was cut short by a weak voice ringing out from somewhere behind him - "Wyatt?"
He glanced down for a moment, trying to compose himself before he took one last shot at Agent Christopher. "If this is really how you're handling this, you can be the one to deliver the news to her. I'm not signing off on it."
With that, he was taking quick strides across the hall, instantly dropping to the floor next to Lucy.
"I'm here," he said, gripping her hand in both of his without garnering any response. She just stared blankly ahead as if she hadn't been the one to beckon him to her side. He waited another beat, hoping in vain for something more before turning his attention to the medical personnel who had begun to pack up their equipment.
"So? Did they...is there anything...?"
The woman closest to him mercifully intervened before he had a chance to complete his fumbling attempt at a question. "She's unharmed. No obvious injuries, doesn't seem to be suffering from any type of drug interaction. Her current condition was most likely triggered entirely by psychological trauma."
Wyatt nodded, the tightness in his chest becoming slightly less suffocating. Not exactly fantastic news, but at least she hadn't been hurt physically.
The second paramedic studied him with sympathetic eyes before speaking up. "She'll probably go through big shifts in mood and temperament over the next several days, sometimes acting more withdrawn like what you're seeing now, with bouts of confusion and - "
"Thanks," he interrupted with a weary sigh, "but you don't have to keep going for my benefit. The symptoms are all too familiar."
His concentration was back on Lucy, the room around him dissolving to insignificance as he scanned her face apprehensively. "Lucy? Hey, you with me?"
He wove his fingers through hers with one hand, lifting the other to cup the side of her face with as much gentleness as he could manage. "C'mon, ma'am. I know you're in there."
He held his breath for several seconds, his heart pounding erratically when her big dark eyes darted toward him and came into focus. "Wyatt. Hi."
"Hi," he countered back at her, a smile threatening to break his face in half at the scratchy sound of her voice. He pushed a chunk of wavy hair away from her forehead with a shaky exhale. "You shave a good five years off of my life every time you go missing. I hope you know I'm holding you accountable for that."
"Sorry," she murmured back with the slightest hint of a grin. The expression faded away quickly, though, and her eyes slid shut after another moment passed.
"Lucy?" It took all of his willpower to not squeeze the living daylights out of her hand. "You okay?"
"I just want it all to go away."
Her whispered words were barely audible, but he hung on every syllable, desperate to find a way to keep her tied to reality. He searched for the right thing to say, a way to reach through her grief and offer her a way out of the despair, but who knew better than him that there were no magic words to make it better?
So he let go of her hand and inched closer, carefully easing her body away from the wall and into his own, his arms going around her as her head dropped to his shoulder. His cheek pressed against the crown of her dark hair for the second time that day, setting off a chain reaction of warmth and devotion that disarmed him in surprising ways. The sense of similarity between this moment and the one that had occurred just hours before at Mason Industries struck him so forcefully that he was almost breathless. Here he was hugging her to him like his life depended on it, strands of her hair matted into his stubble and her head tucked against him like it had always belonged there. But for all of the commonalities, the differences were far more staggering. He could have never imagined that the next time they embraced like this would be on the carpeted floor of her childhood bedroom, with Lucy hovering somewhere between hysteria and trance-like oblivion, her entire world rocked to the core...again.
And as much as he wished that he was holding her under better circumstances, there was nowhere else for him to go, nowhere else on earth he needed to be.
And to hell with anyone who tried to take her away from him.
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