a/n: I have no idea why this happened. I started it a little while back and truthfully, I almost scrapped the whole thing & quit several times because of how random and pointless it felt... but random and pointless turned into more than 10k words!? So there's practically no plot & it might be OOC but OH WELL, it's here and that's that. Don't own Timeless, but I do own a ridiculous amount of fangirling feels.
He can't breathe quite right. That's the first thing he notices. His chest is weighted down like there's a sandbag pinning him to the ground or he's buried under some kind of rubble, but strangely enough, there's no automatic trigger of panic or adrenaline accompanying that realization. If anything, his captivity is making him feel weirdly content, complacent even.
But beneath that quiet complacency, his head hurts a little and he's too warm. And there's definitely something on top of him, but his arms won't budge and his eyelids are stubbornly refusing to cooperate. His mouth feels cottony, his head is heavy, and he's still struggling to clear the gritty remnants of sleep from his vision, but oh God…that is not a sandbag on his chest.
Wyatt already knows before he can even crack an eye open. He easily recognizes the willowy impression of her slim frame without needing to see it. And her scent...that's as much as a giveaway as anything. The allure of her sweet fragrance had been stamped into his memory long before he would have admitted even the slightest bit of interest in possibilities. She always smells too damn good and today is no exception.
And there's skin. Lots of skin. His hand is splayed wide across nothing but smooth, soft skin. And his arms too...they're curled snugly around her, and they're touching a startling amount of uncovered skin.
The panic is now descending in full force. The adrenaline too. And something else, something that's suspiciously similar to arousal.
His eyes adjust slowly to the pale morning light, but his view of the situation is entirely obstructed by an unruly pile of familiar dark waves. Reality crashes in. This is not a dream. This is happening.
Oh shit. Mega shit. Panic mode is fully activated. Shit.
He cranes his neck to the side and curses under his breath. A couch. They're on a frickin' couch, a hotel couch, and a small one at that, so there's no escaping this. He can't roll her off of him, not unless he's going to roll her onto the floor.
No, his muddled brain responds sluggishly. That's not an option.
Shit, shit, shit.
Wyatt forces himself to pause. He breathes deeply, focuses.
There's no question that he's miserably hungover, and it takes a lot to get him this wrecked, which means there's a very good chance that nothing could have happened even if he'd wanted it to in the moment...right? It would have been physically impossible.
His jeans are still on. That's a good sign. And as he wriggles an arm up to his face to check his watch, he notes that his shirt is where it should be too, or at least his sleeves are still attached. But with a bleary glance downward, it's clear that someone has unbuttoned the entire front of said shirt. Which brings him back to his little - or not so little, and getting less little by the moment - problem.
Lucy is laying flush against him, face-down against his sternum and breathing softly into his chest. His shirt is open, her shirt is distinctly absent, and Jesus there's a lot of skin-to-skin interaction happening between them.
His hand twitches reflexively at the small of her back. He slides his palm further up her spine and encounters an appealing swath of satin-like material.
There's immediate relief. Even in his most inebriated state, he's never been one to leave a bra in tact. But the longer he allows his hand to rest over the back of her bra, the more he's thinking about how easy it would be to unclasp it, and then he's taking particular note of the fact that he can feel the gentle curving sensation of her breasts pressing into him, and goddammit he's in such trouble here. He was already half hard before he was even fully awake. He can't keep thinking like this. He's got to reign it in.
Wyatt lifts his offending hand up into the air, loosens his arms from around her, and then...nothing. Because she's sound asleep, probably will be for some time if she's consumed even half as much alcohol as he must have, so there's really nowhere for him to go. She needs to sleep it off, and he...he needs to start thinking about something other than the way her body feels against his. Anything else.
But as the cloud of sleepy confusion starts to lift, the memories from last night are sharpening into focus, and the more that he remembers, the more he feels himself spiraling out of control.
Yep. He's screwed.
10 Hours Earlier
He's been through plenty of tough shit in his career, but even with more than a decade of challenging, rigorous military experience under his belt, he has no problem admitting that this last week has been hell on earth.
To be more precise, it's been hell on earth in the 1600s, the 1700s, the 1800s, the 1900s. Hell on earth in Massachusetts, England, the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, Mexico, and Los Angeles. Truthfully, any day in Los Angeles is hell on earth in Wyatt's humble opinion, but that's a conviction that has very little to do with time travel.
It's difficult to believe all that's transpired in just one week. Only one week since Flynn's reign of terror through time had come to an end. One week since Carol Preston had revealed her allegiance to Rittenhouse, one week since she'd pled with her daughter to join the family cause. One week since Lucy had called him from the side of the road and asked him to come get her. One week since Rittenhouse had swept through in a wave of destruction, making off with the Mothership and leaving nothing but a pile of bodies in their wake. One week since Wyatt had almost kissed Lucy.
All things considered, that last one shouldn't be on his mind right now. Not with the shitstorm of chaos they've been through in the last seven days, and yet it was there nonetheless, beating against his brain with quiet insistence.
Five jumps in seven days, countless injuries, barely enough sleep to keep him on his feet, a litany of disasters haunting the team across four different centuries, and he's consumed with an almost kiss. It's insanity and he knows it, but there's also a piece of him that believes it's the only thing tethering him to reality at this point. He's using it to get him through, a means of survival, a touchstone of what could exist in the future if this game ever ends.
Wyatt tries to put it out of his mind for the moment. He's already been through the monotony of another tedious debriefing session, has suffered through a quick - and in his opinion, unnecessary - trip to medical, and now he's staggering out from the dressing room at last. It's time to unwind, and thoughts of Lucy and those future possibilities will only serve to wind him back up.
He gratefully passes off his dirty, torn-up garb from the '60s to the nearest attendant, then glances up and his breath catches.
Lucy has emerged from her own dressing room in near perfect synchronization to his exit, mirroring his autopilot movements as she hands her dress over to another one of Mason's employees. That dress - a short, boldly patterned wisp of a thing which had him a little awestruck from the moment he'd first laid eyes on it - has certainly seen better days now that they've returned from another fiasco of a jump. It's streaked with dirt and blood, and though he can't see them from here, he also knows there are a few significant rips and snags marring the lightweight material.
He's memorized every last misfortune that dress has seen since their departure. It's not something he's done by choice, but rather as an annoying automatic function of his tactically-wired mind. There's the dirt from the ditch she'd been shoved into as Emma fled the scene of one of her many crimes. One smear of blood from Wyatt's sliced-up hand. Another smattering of red droplets that had showered over her when he'd sunk a bullet into the body of an attacker who'd gotten a little too close for comfort. There's a rip along the bodice from where she'd almost been stabbed, another snag from when someone had attempted to tear the dress right off of her. And then there's the portion of the hem that's missing because she tore it off to wrap around Wyatt's bleeding hand, a feat that still has him a bit astonished. Just when he thought he couldn't be any more impressed by this woman - a self-proclaimed squeamish wimp who couldn't handle the sight of blood - she had ripped off a scrap of her own dress and pressed it against his blood-soaked skin without a second thought or a single word of instruction from anyone else.
And now she stands before him, back in street clothes for as long as Emma allows it, dark smudges beneath her eyes and a rumble of unchecked tension distorting her shoulders into sharp angles. She lifts her gaze to meet his and there's a silent agreement that passes implicitly between them - the last jump has totally demolished them and there aren't words to succinctly define the nightmare of what they've been through on this one. They've all been pushed beyond their limits, they're dead tired and barely functioning, but she's obviously the one who's floundering the most. Her mom's Rittenhouse revelation was the last nail in the coffin of the life Lucy had once known. If anyone has an excuse to go sink into bed and sleep for a few years, it's undoubtedly Lucy.
Just as he's preparing to suggest that exact idea, she beats him to the punch and offers up a suggestion of her own.
"I'm in the mood to go drink my face off, as in I'm not stopping until I can convince myself that this whole week was nothing but a bad dream. You in?"
He waits for her to laugh, to crack a smile, to do something that will reveal she's just messing with him. A second or two ticks by, but her face doesn't change.
"Seriously?" he asks gruffly, partially in disbelief, but mostly hoping that the offer won't be rescinded.
"God yes," she says blandly. There's a bit of flippancy in her gaze now, an unexpected taste of mischief that looks sinfully good on her. "So are you in or no?"
"I'm in," he answers with very little hesitation.
Lucy nods her approval, a tiny smile working halfway up her mouth. "Good. I'll get Rufus."
But Rufus hastily declines as soon as they track him down, citing exhaustion and Jiya as his excuses for ditching them, barely even bothering with any explanation at all before he's on his way to his car.
Wyatt swallows around the sudden dryness in his throat. He's drinking with Lucy, drinking for the sole purpose of getting drunk off their asses, and now it will only be the two of them. That's a lot for him to process all at once, so he decides it's best not to process it at all. It's pretty clear that thinking is not on her agenda for the night, and he's more than willing to go along for the ride...even if it scares him a little.
They decide to drive together in his truck, and before he can douse himself in an entire vat of hard liquor, Wyatt chooses to make one responsible decision while he still can.
Lucy cocks her head at him as he slides his truck into park at the end of a rather short journey. Question marks are practically dancing in her eyes when she does a double take of their destination for the evening.
"Are you bailing on me too?"
They're at her hotel, the one Homeland's been patrolling around the clock from the moment she first checked in last week. He understands her confusion. It looks like he's just dropping her off here, which is exactly what he's done almost every other night this week.
He shakes his head with a glimmer of amusement, happy to just sit here for a moment and watch the neon lights flicker over her scrunched-up face.
"You've never seen me drink, Lucy, not really drink. We're taking a few precautions, ma'am."
There's a bit of wide-eyed fascination in her expression now, the sight of which has him chuckling at her expense. "I feel like you regularly drink me under the table on a normal night. What exactly should I be expecting here if that's not really drinking for you?"
He simply shrugs, unleashing a full-on smirk that's all for her benefit. "You'll just have to wait and see...if you're still up for it."
"Oh there's no backing down now." She shifts a little closer, leaning over the gearshift to stare him down with those big dark eyes of hers. "What should I be expecting? Do you volunteer for bad karaoke when you're wasted? Will you suddenly feel compelled to dance with total strangers?"
He laughs with a dismissive wave of his hand. "Sorry, no advanced previews. You'll learn soon enough."
"Oh God, tell me you're not going to request one of those awful group dances once you're smashed. I don't do the Cupid Shuffle, so don't bother trying."
Wyatt reaches over and clicks the button to make her seatbelt retract, hoping to move her along and put an end to this ridiculous conversation. It's only after he sees her reaction - a flustered bit of heat rising into her face as her eyes carefully track the movement of his hand - that he realizes where that just came from.
Seatbelts. Lucy and seatbelts. He's never done that in a normal vehicle before, and he's not sure why, but for some reason that little action is coming across far more intimately than it ever has inside of the Lifeboat.
She recovers after a beat, tilting her head with a smile. "I've got it - you're the type of drunk who lies down on the side of the street for an impromptu nap, aren't you? I'll abandon you on the sidewalk in a second, so don't count on me to come to your rescue."
He rolls his eyes at her before descending from the truck, tossing one last sardonic glare back at her. "Thanks for the warning, babydoll."
She doesn't wait for him to come around to her side, and he chooses not to fight it since he knows she's far too prepared for that argument and he's not in the mood for a lecture on the patriarchy. He does take her elbow in hand once she's within reach, though, steering her along with him even though it might spur a tirade on why she's perfectly capable of walking on her own.
The tirade doesn't come. She instinctively leans into him, because maybe - just maybe - she's starting to depend on his touch just as much as he's come to depend on hers.
"So please tell me that these precautions of yours will still include an actual place to drink. I may be desperate, but the mini bar is really not my style."
Wyatt waits until they're striding up to the hotel entrance, then gestures toward the attached restaurant with a flourish. "Behold, our watering hole for the evening. Hope it meets expectations, your highness."
It's nothing more than a generic chain restaurant, the kind of place that's usually beating you over the head with half-priced appetizer promotions, but he's sure it will do the trick. What's most important to him is that he won't need to worry about getting either of them back to safety after the carnage that's sure to follow. Three meager steps and they'll be back inside the hotel lobby. Even if he's too wasted to find a frickin' elevator, there's a Homeland Security agent posted at every entrance in the whole place. It's a foolproof plan.
She eyes it up slowly, then shrugs. "Fine by me."
He glances over his shoulder to be sure that Agent Warner sees them entering, exchanging a nod of confirmation with him as they make eye contact from across the parking lot.
Lucy catches the split-second interaction, her breath warm against his neck as she whispers with mock confidentiality, "All systems go. The eagle has landed. Over and out."
Wyatt sends his most sarcastic smile her way, his hand squeezing her elbow as he does so. "Hate to tell ya, but your code name would never be eagle."
"Oh really," she challenges a little sharply, "so what would it be, then? The falcon? The - "
"Name a bird that's prone to tripping over its own wings and then we'll have a winner."
She pushes him away with a dark look, but it's not hard to see that she's struggling to keep from laughing. "You're an ass."
"Damn straight," he grins in response.
They're at the deserted bar in another few steps and he's pleased to notice that she's sidling back up to him in spite of the fact that she's supposedly angry with him at the moment. "First round's on me."
"No, I don't - "
She ignores his attempted protest and slaps her hands down on the counter, looking the bartender straight in the eyes with a comical dose of seriousness. "We're doing shots, but I need them to be sweet. Like stupidly sweet, the kind of shots where I don't even realize I'm getting drunk off of them until it's way too late. Understood?"
Wyatt is torn between disgust and amusement. He settles for a chuckling grunt, draping an arm over Lucy's shoulders and shaking his head at the bartender with a trace of desperation. "No, not understood. I'm not drinking hot pink shots or whatever the hell it is she just ordered."
"Yes he is," she says with a syrupy smile, one that surely matches the requested level of sugar in those shots of hers. "I'm paying for this round. He can pick the next one."
All it takes is one glance at the bartender and Wyatt knows he's screwed. The guy is young, probably barely out of college if that, and judging by the responding dopey-eyed smile that's aimed exclusively at her, it's clear that he's going to take his cues from Lucy instead of Wyatt.
Lucy turns in his loose embrace and taps her fingers against his shoulder. "Don't be a poor sport, sweetheart."
His heart picks up speed, but he gives no outward indication of how she affects him when she does that. He realizes he started it - he was the one who dragged out the infamous babydoll nickname while they were still outside, after all - but it never fails to throw him for a loop when she returns the favor. It's an instant barrage of warmth and desire - the memory of her body easing across his lap, the temptation of perfume and lipstick crowding against his senses, her lips on his, the sensation of gentle fingertips brushing across his cheek, and her deep brown eyes flickering so close to his face, drinking him in with such dizzying proximity...
With Arkansas branded into his mind, Wyatt drops onto the nearest stool and throws back his first shot as soon as it arrives, not even bothering to take a second to make fun of how stupid it looks. At first he's sure that it's nothing more than juice sliding down his throat, strawberry lemonade, or maybe raspberry…? He doesn't really know, but either way, it's as weak as Kool-Aid as far as he's concerned, and it's doing nothing to numb the indecent trajectory of his meandering thoughts.
But once he's downed a second one, the biting aftertaste of camouflaged alcohol becomes a little more evident. Lucy keeps stride with him, reaching for another and another until their fingers are brushing as they both try to claim the last one at the same time.
"Take it," he urges with a smirk, "I guarantee the next round will be a lot less pleasant for you. Drink up while you can still handle it."
She rolls her eyes but does as instructed. He watches her throw it back, and he's a little entranced with the way her hair falls over her shoulder as she drains the glass. And her neck...she has a very beautiful, very -
"Stop staring," she says with a playful shove to his chest. "It's rude."
The apology is genuine, but mostly because he's been caught and that's embarrassing him for reasons he can't understand. He doesn't do embarrassed. That's normally her thing.
The bartender returns once the last shot is gone, and Wyatt doesn't wait for Lucy to bat her eyelashes and work her magic. It's his turn and he's determined to even the score. "Most expensive whiskey you have. Two doubles, both neat." He sneaks a glance at Lucy and lets his conscience chime in belatedly. "With a water back for hers, please."
"Don't go easy on me," she objects halfheartedly.
Her tone gives her away. She's not so sure about this, but she's trying to save face anyhow.
He doesn't call her out on it. He just lifts a shoulder and pulls a face like he's barely given it a thought. "It's a chaser. You don't have to use it if you don't want to."
But it only takes one sip of their new drinks for Wyatt to know that she'll definitely be using it. There's a tiny grimace twitching over her mouth, so insignificant that it would have been easy to miss if he hadn't been watching for it.
Half of his drink is gone before she's put even the slightest dent in hers. She looks over at his glass and huffs out a cranky sigh. "I'm falling behind."
"It's not a competition," he laughs in return. "And if you really hate it, don't drink it."
His words are nothing but a waste of breath. It's a lost cause as soon as he's said it isn't a competition, because of course that has the exact opposite effect. She's too damn stubborn, they both are, so he quickly recognizes that there's no way she's going to back down now that he's letting her off the hook.
And maybe he knew that all along. Maybe he'd intentionally baited her with that cleverly disguised challenge. Maybe he's an awful person and he's using her own bullheadedness against her.
With one formidable brow arched high on her forehead, Lucy wraps both hands around her glass and tips it up for several long seconds. At first it's funny to watch her choke it down, then it's admittedly a bit sexy when she keeps going with more confidence, but by the time she's finally clinking the glass back down onto the bar top, it's actually kind of scary, because holy shit that is not a normal amount of whiskey to drink all at once.
"Whoa, Lucy…" he locks a preemptive hand around her elbow. "You alright?"
"Never better," she says matter-of-factly.
She wipes a hand across her mouth, stares out into middle distance for a moment, then shakes her head forcefully and takes a generous gulp of the water.
"Lucy - "
"I'm fine." She twists on her barstool to face him and kicks his foot with hers, a lopsided grin forming across her mouth. "That stuff is nasty, but damn...does the trick."
He can't stop himself from returning that same lighthearted expression as he watches her wriggle around in her seat with a look of satisfaction. "Feelin' good, huh?"
"The room is spinning just a little, and I don't hate it."
"Atta girl," he says with one last squeeze of her elbow before he forces himself to release her from his grasp. Now he's the one who needs to catch up. She hasn't quite emptied her glass, but she's come pretty frickin' close, and no way is Lucy Preston outdrinking him tonight.
He goes to work on his own whiskey, then catches the passing bartender with a short nod. "A sazerac for me. Keep them coming."
The bartender grunts his confirmation, then fixes his gaze on Lucy. "And for the lady…"
Wyatt makes a point of answering before she can even open her mouth. "The lady needs to slow down."
She furrows her brow at Wyatt with a harrumph. "The lady can speak for herself, thank you very much."
The bartender seems to enjoy that particular response. He leans forward, bracing both arms over the bar as he tips his head in Lucy's direction. "So what'll it be then?"
"Um…" she drums her fingers against the bar top and lets out a charming little hiccup. "Okay, maybe he's right. I - I don't know, just bring me a spritzer or something. I don't care. It's so warm in here..." she turns to Wyatt with a contorted expression, her hands fluttering along her cheek and neck. "Are you warm? I think it's warm."
"It's a little warm," he agrees obligingly, not bothering to look away as she begins to shed her jacket, her blouse rising a bit while she struggles to free her arms from the sleeves. Maybe it is warm. He's pretty sure his temperature is on the rise too.
Wyatt eventually tears his eyes away from her for long enough to throw back the rest of his whiskey. He gives himself a little mental shake, and once he's of sounder mind, he scoots closer to her and aids in the effort, pulling on the sleeves of her jacket until she's finally free of it.
"Thanks," she breathes close to his cheek, a sweep of dark lashes swimming before him. "That's better."
His eyes rake down over her body with a smirk that's meant to unnerve her. "Good, because I don't think you've got anything left to take off...unless you're planning on getting arrested for indecent exposure, of course."
"You'd be surprised," she murmurs for his ears only, "another few drinks and all bets - and maybe a few more layers - will be off."
He blinks in response, mouth falling open and brain fizzing out. That was not the response he'd been banking on. And yeah, it's definitely too warm in here. Hot, actually. Blisteringly hot.
"Sazerac and a spritzer," the bartender announces, his voice ringing out far louder than necessary.
With the mental parade of Lucy stripping off more layers staggering through his mind's eye, Wyatt essentially pours his drink straight down his throat and signals for another.
He's waiting somewhat impatiently until he notices Lucy toying with her wine glass rather indifferently.
"You tapping out, Lucy?"
She straightens her back and takes a sulky sip of her spritzer before answering. "Why are you still so sober? It's annoying."
He's not so sober anymore. The early dredges of a buzz are descending through his veins, but he plays along and showers her with his smuggest smile. "Well the obvious answer is that I, unlike you, actually have some meat on my bones. You weigh what - eighty, ninety pounds max? Of course you're fading fast. That's to be expected."
"Excuse me?!" She moves closer to bump his shoulder, but she's the one who looks far more off kilter afterwards. "I weigh more than ninety pounds!"
"Nope, don't believe it. Ninety pounds, maybe less, but certainly no more. I'm sure of it."
His second sazerac has arrived, but Lucy steals it from him first and takes an uncertain sip. Her face is a neon sign of disapproval as she swallows slowly. She slides the tumbler into his hand and doesn't withdraw right away, allowing her fingers to rest against his. "What makes you so sure, anyway? Like you're the authority on - on anything, let alone on my weight of all things."
Wyatt shifts the glass into his other hand so he can maintain contact with her as he takes a long drink. Once he's feeling that familiar burn in the back of his throat, he sets it down with a smirk, all the while still brushing his fingers against hers. "You fell asleep in a conference room at Mason last night and didn't wake up again until we were pulling into the hotel parking lot. How do you think you got to the truck, Lucy? Magic? Sleepwalking?"
Her eyes narrow, but she doesn't answer.
He threads his fingers more decisively through hers and strokes the back of her hand with his thumb. "And earlier this week - in England, I believe - you conked out in the carriage before we made it back to the Lifeboat. I'm guessing you don't remember walking the rest of the way to the time machine at the end of that jump, do you?"
"Why do you have to be such a smartass?"
He shrugs, making one last pointed comment before finishing off the rest of his drink. "I don't remember hearing any complaints while I was busy dragging your dead weight across a few different centuries."
He dips his head nearer once he's polished off the final drop of his cocktail, eyes sliding very deliberately to hers. "And judging by that adorable slur you're working on, I should probably start preparing myself to do the same thing tonight."
"Don't be so sure. A few more of those drinks, and I'll be the one who has to lug you around." Her fingertips graze across his cheekbone and he's instantly breathless. "You're getting a little flushed, sweetheart."
God knows that it's not just the alcohol that's turning him red, but he decides to keep that to himself for the moment. There was something at the beginning of all this, something that's tied to the word precautions, but the edges of cognitive thought are starting to blur and he's not interested in the stray thread of remembrance that's so narrowly out of reach. It's all melting away into the color of whiskey - her eyes, the new drink that's just materialized in front of him, the glossy polished bar, his sloshing thoughts - it's all whiskey.
Lucy has finally finished her spritzer, and she swipes another tentative sip of his drink instead of ordering a new one for herself. "Ugh. That's still disgusting."
"Hmm...then maybe you should stop drinking it," he deadpans back at her.
He pries her fingers away from the cocktail and glowers at her while he goes to work on it. His faux irritation triggers a round of responding giggles, and it's not long before she simply can't stop. She's flailing around, laughing this big beautiful laugh that he's never quite heard from her before, and he's incapable of resisting the pull of it. He laughs too, surging toward her as she pitches dangerously nearer to the edge of the stool. There's a long wobble, one that threatens to capsize her for good, but Wyatt's hands cinch around her waist and he slows her momentum before she can truly go overboard.
"You're - " she laughs again, mirthful tears forming in the corners of her eyes, " - you're such a lifesaver."
"From smartass to lifesaver, huh? Talk 'bout progress."
Her hands press flat against his chest, another laugh reeling through her as she gasps for air. "No - no, no...you're both, Wyatt. A smartass lifesaver."
He shrugs, hands teasing higher until her shirt is riding up and there's velvety skin beneath his palms. "As long as I still have some redeemable qualities…"
"Oh, you have nothing to worry about there," she murmurs, eyes flicking between his face and his chest, inspecting the positioning of her hands on his shirt like she's not quite sure how they got there. "Yep. I won't get rid of you just yet."
There's no denying that he wants her, and she's pretty much eye-sexing him now, so he thinks it's probably fair to assume that she wants him too.
Is that really new information, though? Hasn't this week shed an endless amount of light on Lucy's role in his life? He'd been sure that he would lose her forever if he didn't try to put his feelings into words when his departure from San Francisco had been imminent, but then Rittenhouse had flipped the whole game on them and he's been spinning ever since. It's like a door has been thrown open and he's seeing everything so much more clearly now. His pulse is adrift every time Lucy crosses his path, heart rate spiking whenever they touch, electricity flooding his senses any time he finds her eyes on him from across a room.
And the effect isn't waning. He's getting more addicted to it with each passing moment. He needs to be there when there's terror painted in her eyes, feels compelled to soothe her when the tears begin to fall, wants to be the one who puts each meager scrap of joy in her fleeting laughter. He seeks the softness of her touch as often as he can get it, craves her even when she's right beside him. They've been worked to the bone this week and there's hardly been a spare second to properly discuss it with her, but he knows Lucy is feeling it too. He's been seeing the same cyclone of need mirrored in her eyes and it's just a matter of time before they're both swept away for good.
But the idea of having more...more of her if it comes like this, with the alcohol and the bar and the exhausting wave of trauma that's pushed them to this place…? It's not right. He's supposed to be guarding against this exact result. The terms had been simple.
No driving, which is why they're getting wasted just three steps away from her hotel.
No senseless risks, which is why he's also chosen a spot that comes with a Homeland agent posted right outside the door, conveniently stationed close enough to keep an eye on them just in case Rittenhouse decides to strike while they're slugging back drinks like there's no tomorrow.
But there was a third...a third precaution.
Lucy's hand slips a little, falling lower over his abdomen, and he bites down on his lip to keep from groaning aloud.
No sex. No sex tonight, so he's getting his own room. That's the plan.
"More shots!" she calls out giddily.
She tugs on his shirt and repeats it in a tone that refuses negotiation. "More. Shots."
There's another round of tiny pink drinks plopped down in front of them, and one of the last coherent thoughts in Wyatt's head is thank God the guys from my unit aren't here to see me drinking these stupid Barbie doll shots.
And then she's laughing in his ear. She's off the stool, hands on his shoulders, asking him something quite insistently, but his concentration plummets with every tickle of her breath on his neck. She's standing - well listing from side to side, really - between his legs, her back to the bar, and then she tosses back another pink shot so close to his face that she almost hits his nose with the glass.
"What about now? Can we go now? Now is a funny word."
Wyatt slips off his stool, sways forward, and traps her against the bar. "Now. Now. That's not funny."
She isn't laughing anymore. In a series of awkward, uncoordinated movements, she's depositing the shot glass onto the bar behind her, bending her arm backward at what should be an impossible angle, all so she doesn't have to turn away from him for even a second. Then her hips are prodding against his and her arms are looping over his shoulders.
"Now. Kiss me now."
Wyatt obliges, because it would be rude to say no, wouldn't it?
It's a chaotic blend of whiskey and strawberries, a clash of hard and soft, a medley of teeth and tongue and skin, and if he'd thought it had been too warm before, that's nothing compared to the heat that's currently racing through his system. Lucy arches up into him with a gratifying whimper that might just drive him to madness. He keeps one hand on the bar behind her for balance while the other is scooping up her back, moving along her swan neck, not stopping till he's cupping her face and changing the slant of his mouth, chasing after her like the water that chased her whiskey. Oh God, whiskey…
He wants another whiskey. He wants Lucy and whiskey, in that order, nothing else.
Her lips slide off of his, and he grunts disapprovingly. But at least he can find himself another whiskey now.
Lucy wrenches his hand off of her cheek, then proceeds to lift it up to her eyes with a crumpled frown. "Your bandage is scratchy."
He'd forgotten about the bandage. He can't feel the dull throb of irksome pain anymore, and he's struggling to remember why he even has that strip of gauze wrapped around his palm. Is it really that important to keep it on?
Lucy slaps his other hand away as soon as he starts to pick at the edge of that silly white meshy stuff. "No, Wyatt. No."
"I don't want it on," he snaps back decisively.
"Listen to me," she says, all bossiness and sass as she stares up at him, "you have a cut and it needs to get better. Keep your blood inside."
The image of Lucy wrapping his hand in a shredded piece of her dress comes back to him, and it unleashes a landslide of other snapshots with it. LA in the '60s. Too many close calls. A son of a bitch getting aggressive with her in an alley, another bastard almost gutting her with a knife. Blood on her dress, fear in her eyes, so many goddamn bullets flying around them while she tightened a strip of material into a firm knot and the bleeding finally began to taper off.
"Wyatt? You okay?"
He's suddenly tired of this bar. The last trace of syrupy-sweet shots has turned to acid in his mouth and he instinctively knows that his mood will plummet if they stay much longer. "Let's get out of here."
She's quiet as they settle up with the bartender. Her arm winds around his torso as they spill out into the night and find their way into the adjoining hotel, but her placid disposition quickly dissolves when Wyatt moves toward the front desk. She digs her heels in and nods toward the bank of elevators behind him.
"C'mon, I have the keycard."
"Just wait a minute, okay? I'm getting one too."
She pulls on his arm, brows puckering together. "I already have extras in the room. You can have one of mine."
"No, Lucy...I'm getting my own room. Not just a keycard."
Now both of her arms are fastening around one of his, imprisoning him against her as she takes a lurching step backward. "Mmm, no you're not."
"Yeah, I - "
"Don't leave me alone." Her eyes are luminous as she turns her face up to his. "Please. I don't want to be alone again tonight."
He freezes at that, no longer able to put up any form of outward resistance. "I...I don't do karaoke and I definitely don't do the Cupid Shuffle."
Wyatt swallows precariously. "You wanted to know what kind of drunk I am...well I'm not a singer, I hate dancing, and I don't lie down on sidewalks. It's always one of two things, Luce. I either pick stupid fights or I...I, uh, get…"
Her earlier giggle fit looks like it might be coming back around at any given moment. "Horny? You get horny, don't you?"
"Stop making fun of me."
"You're cute when you're pouty." Her fingertips glide up the inside of his arm. "And I like it when you call me Luce."
His eyes flicker down to where her hands are absentmindedly playing with his sleeve. "Quit seducing me."
"Seducing you?!" She bursts into laughter, giving his sleeve one more decided tug before she backs away from him, withdrawing toward the elevators with a vibrant smile. "Oh, please. You've got the wrong girl, Wyatt Logan. I wouldn't even know where to begin."
He knows that she means it. He also knows that she's dead wrong.
Lucy is pressing the button now, and the elevator arrives with an inviting ding, already here and ready to go.
"C'mon, already," she calls from over her shoulder with a bumbling step into the awaiting car. "You're being silly. I have a couch. I can behave."
Wyatt shuffles after her with a sigh, grumbling to himself as he goes, "You're not the one I'm worried about."
The doors close behind him and then the elevator car rises with a creaking jolt, propelling Lucy straight into his chest. She laughs, twines her arms around his waist, and tilts her face back to look at him.
"I hate elevators...usually have to make myself get in them just to prove something to myself. It sucks a lot less with you here." The smile fades from her face, leaving raw honesty in its place. "Everything sucks less with you here."
He intends to return the sentiment, to tell her that his entire life has been sucking a whole lot less thanks to her very existence, but his ability to formulate a lucid sentence has taken a temporary vacation. Her mouth is so close and her arms feel so nice around him. They already kissed once in the bar...would it really be such a bad idea to sneak in a second one before they make it back to her room?
He decides to test it. His lips brush hers and Lucy opens her mouth to him in an instant. He tunnels his hands into her hair and holds her fast until there's another ding and the doors are splitting open once more. They barely manage to exit on their feet, promptly crashing into the nearest wall with their mouths still sealed together.
"Are you…" he exhales harshly against her lips, "...you okay?"
Wyatt offers a sideways grin. "I'll live."
She moves in for another kiss but his hands are still on either side of her head and he uses that leverage to keep her at bay. "We...we're supposed to be behaving."
A flicker of doubt passes over Lucy's face, and he's horrified to hear a wobbling tremor in her voice as she untangles herself from him. "Just tell me if you don't want to - "
He cuts her off with a sloppy kiss that barely lands on target. "I want to. I definitely want to."
She regards him with a long, serious gaze. "Because...because you've had too much to drink?"
Wyatt shakes his head slowly. "Because I'm falling in love with you."
Her eyes widen and she almost loses her balance even though she hasn't moved her feet. "Are you...umm, I don't - I don't know if I should really believe you at the moment..."
"Then ask me again tomorrow," he breathes an instant before he's capturing her lips again. She sways into him, cradles his jaw and deepens the kiss, creating total anarchy inside of him.
There's a blur of rambling carpet and fluorescent lights, mesmerizing perfume and an unforgiving door. Lucy falls victim to another fit of giggles as she inserts her keycard incorrectly several times in a row until Wyatt intervenes with an impatient curse word or two, which only makes her laugh all the louder. Then she's tearing at the front of his shirt before the door has even swung shut behind them, fumbling at the little buttons with mixed results. Her cool fingertips on his newly exposed skin immediately distracts him and he trips over his own feet, almost knocks right into her, but manages to twist back onto the couch instead. She lands in a graceless heap on top of him with another dose of rollicking giggles.
"We - I think we're what the kids call...shitfaced."
"The kids?" Wyatt asks with an arched brow, fitting his hands to her hips as she tries to sit up on top of him. "Just how old are you, ma'am?"
She straddles his torso with some assistance, all scarlet cheeks and glinting eyes as she peers down at him. "College kids. They make me feel ancient."
"The word 'shitfaced' is not just for college kids," he replies slowly, his thoughts lagging behind by several degrees as she shifts in place over him.
"Whatever," she murmurs with a saucy smile, fingers running a bit more deftly now as she effectively unfastens the rest of his shirt buttons. "You've got very nice abs."
"You've seen them before."
"But I never told you how nice they were, and I don't want to be negligent. They're nice abs."
Wyatt tries not to jerk away as she runs her nails up and down those nice abs of his. "Negligent? How the hell can you still think of a word as long as negligent right now?"
"My drunk brain is still my brain," she informs him frankly, gliding her hands up to his shoulders and lowering herself over him, "just drunker."
"Drunker," he repeats with a snort, "Sorry, Luce, but your brain just - "
She interrupts him with a prying kiss and his statement is flung away to oblivion, unimportant and forgotten. His fingers grasp the edge of her blouse, tugging it up and away until they're forced to separate for a moment.
"Huh," he says with glazed amusement once her shirt has been appropriately discarded. He runs the back of his hand across her flat stomach, "can't find your abs…"
"I'll flex for you later," she teases with a haphazard grin. "Now shut up and get back to the kissing."
"Bossy, bossy…" Wyatt hums with a shake of his head.
Not that he minds. He'll gladly gets back to the kissing. She snuggles down into him, and it's exceptionally clear - even if everything else about this situation is a complete haze - that he wasn't lying before when he said he was falling for her. He's feeling a whole lot more than the hollow draw of lust as she makes her home against his chest. It's love, steady and undeniable, a welcomed rush of warmth and affection that surges straight to his heart when she's all cuddled up to him like this. Sure, he still wants to peel off her bra and her jeans and basically any other physical barrier between them, but beyond that, he really just wants to hold her close and feel her heartbeat against his own...all night...every night.
And that's why they can't do this now, not tonight.
"Hey," he whispers with his thumbs sweeping along her jaw, guiding her fractionally backward, "we...we should slow down, Lucy."
A line of concern mars her forehead, confusion swarming her glossy eyes.
"This is important to me…" he says as gently as he can, "I - I don't want our first time to be the product of pink drinks and sazerac."
"But...you, um, do want us to have a - a first time?"
"Hell yeah," he answers with a lazy smile. "Just maybe not tonight if that's okay."
She starts to speak but quickly interrupts herself with a massive yawn. It's with a sheepish look that she confides quietly, "I guess I'm pretty beat anyway. Sorry...everyone always tells me that I'm boring when I drink."
"Boring?! You've been anything but boring, Luce."
Her head burrows into his neck without another word, and as much as he wants to suggest a move to more spacious quarters - as in the queen sized bed that's not even three feet away from them - he can't bring himself to bother her now. She just looks too damn cute and cozy as she yawns again and coils her arms up around his shoulders.
He plans to pick her up and move her to the bed once he's sure that she's truly down for the count. She'll sleep right through it, just like always.
He smiles at that thought. Didn't he make a prediction back in the bar that this would be happening tonight?
Once another few seconds pass, though, his eyes are feeling awfully heavy. He'll close them for just a minute...just let them rest until he's sure Lucy is asleep. It's fair to say he's pretty beat too. After all, he's experienced five jumps in seven days, countless injuries, barely enough sleep to keep him on his feet, a litany of disasters haunting them across four different centuries...but at least he can cross that almost kiss off his list. He lost track somewhere along the way, but there have been plenty of actual kisses tonight, and right before he drifts off, Wyatt decides he likes the word actual way more than the word almost.
It rips him right out of his reverie like a splash of ice water to the face. Lucy squirms a little, sighs, wriggling around until her hand is pushing his shirt further off of his shoulder.
Then the movement stops abruptly and her whole body freezes on top of his.
"Oh...Oh my God."
Her voice is thick. Thick with sleep, thick with hangover. But there's brittle horror there too, a rising alarm jolting through her muddled words.
She flings herself upward without warning, clutches her head with a pained wince, then fumbles and falters for stability. Wyatt scrambles to latch onto any part of her - an elbow, her hand, her waist - but he's too slow and too stupid thanks to last night's boozefest. She's a goner.
Lucy topples from her perch and lands on the carpet below with a whiny outpouring of muffled curse words, many of which he's never heard from her until now. The sound of it produces a small smile, one that automatically makes him feel guilty for enjoying any part of her misery.
"Lucy…?" he leans over the side of the couch to assess the damage. Her face is ablaze with shock and embarrassment as she makes a pitiable attempt at covering up the vast expanse of creamy white skin on display. He dutifully turns his face away, blindly offering his hand in her direction. "You okay?"
"I think I want to die. Other than that, I'm great."
She doesn't take his hand. He glances down at her after a long beat of silence, and she bats combatively at his arm, prompting him to turn away again. It doesn't matter. He could close his eyes for a thousand years and still recall the perfectly imperfect image below - long limbs sprawled clumsily across the brassy-toned carpet, shiny curls fanned out in all directions, the blush of mortification spreading from her face to her neck, from her neck to her…
Oh. Oh, dammit.
He wants to roll right over after her, to lower himself along the lithe line of her body and pick up right where they left off last night. He's fully ready to go...aside from the migraine building beneath his temples and the nausea in his gut, of course.
How can he feel this many conflicting things at once? Is this normal? He feels like hell, but maybe hell is somehow not so bad this morning...
"We, um…" she inhales loudly, starts again. "It's kind of a blur for me. We didn't do anything, right?"
"No, thank God. We stopped before it went too far."
Wyatt sneaks another look at her. Her face is pinched, whiter than before.
"I…" he blinks, retraces his words, examines the glaring gap in what he's just said. There's this unspoken thing he isn't quite sure how to say, a thing he needs to say if he wants to clear the distress from her expression. A thing he's downright terrified to admit for real this time. "What I meant was...thank God we didn't have sex while we were drunk out of our minds, because I'd really regret it if we actually slept together and all you remembered the next morning was a...a blur."
Lucy peers up at him, relief washing anew in her eyes. He extends his hand again. She takes it this time, allowing him to pull her to her feet. He sits up slowly, carefully, scooting to the side and making room for her to join him once he's sure that his stomach won't be revolting any time soon. It's obvious that she's still feeling a little bashful, and since a bleary glance around the room doesn't immediately yield a glimpse of her shirt from yesterday, Wyatt shrugs off his own and hands it to her as she's drooping onto the cushion next to him.
"Thanks," she murmurs with a self-conscious smile.
He wants to say something clever or quippy in response, but the sight of her wispy frame disappearing into his too-big button down wipes any trace of wit right out of his brain. She's always beautiful, but he's especially drawn to this version of her. A little messy, a little out of sorts, smudged with sleep, vulnerable. Neither of them have anything to hide behind, no costumes, no assignments, no obligations.
He feels his ears burning red before he even has the words out, but he plunges ahead anyhow. "I don't know what you may or may not be remembering so far, but I think it's worth mentioning that I...I told you I was falling in love with you last night."
Her eyes widen, lower lip dipping open. She doesn't say anything for a long moment. "In - in the hallway, right? After I...I practically mauled you in the elevator."
"I'm fairly certain that I was doing some mauling of my own," he says with a grin.
Lucy puts a hand to her forehead, gently shaking her head from side to side. "I think you're a bad influence. Stuff like this never happens to me. Never."
"Need I remind you that you're the one who suggested it last night?"
She drops her hand and stares at him straight on, squinting ever so slightly in the bright wash of light from the windows. "The drinking, yes. Not the stripping. Or this sleeping arrangement. And definitely not making a spectacle of ourselves by very publicly defiling every available surface in this hotel on our way back up to the room."
He nods sagely, not dropping her gaze for an instant. "Right, because normally you're a boring drunk. At least that's what you claimed right before you passed out on top of me. Sure had me fooled, though."
Her voice sounds small, microscopic even. He reaches for her hand, props it up against his leg. "Yeah?"
"Was it us? Everything that happened, was that us last night, or was it the - "
"It was definitely me," he answers without pause. "Alcohol may have accelerated the process, but I'm not taking any of it back."
Her smile comes alive gradually, warming bit by bit until her whole face is alight. "I...I'm falling for you too. Fallen, actually. Just didn't think that...well - "
"That I would return the sentiment?" At her shy nod, Wyatt closes the gap between them and skims his lips to her forehead in a sweet, emotion-filled gesture that nearly has his eyes watering. "I haven't been able to think of anything else all week. I wanted to kiss you before, to tell you what I was really thinking...but I was an idiot and I hesitated, then Connor came sailing in from out of nowhere and you took off and…"
"And then my mom happened. And Emma. And everything else."
He brushes his thumb along her knuckles, closing his eyes with the weight of all that he's feeling. It's been a long time since he's been at the mercy of such positive emotions; he's far more familiar with low tides than he is with the highs. "Even with all of that, it's still been running on a loop in my head. Every jump we've been on, every shared look or touch...I keep coming back to that moment where I almost made a move. And then keep kicking myself for not doing it when I had the chance."
"I think that elusive chance came back around a few times last night," she says quietly, half a grin sloping across her mouth.
"And I'm hoping for a few more times today."
Lucy leans in and nuzzles her cheek to his, so soft and light against the harsher bristle of his stubble. "Optimism looks good on you, soldier."
"Can't be even half as good as my shirt looks on you, ma'am."
Their lips meet in an exhilarating reprise of last night's frenzy. It's far tamer than where they'd ended things before, but even with the residual headache and lingering queasiness, it's also so much better. It comes with the promise that this is only the beginning; it's not a mistake, not one wild night that they'll just laugh off and never speak of again. It's real and it's them and there's no mistaking it as anything less.
And just as Wyatt is preparing to lay her out along the couch and tease his way fully into her mouth, Lucy slithers away from him with a contrary look. "I'm gonna need to call a timeout until I can find my toothbrush and a whole tube of Colgate, and if your breath is anything like mine, same goes for you. It's like tequila meets roadkill in there."
He pulls loosely on her elbow, laughter bubbling up from deep within as he regards her with an earnest look. "But I don't care about - "
"Too bad, because I sure as hell do."
Lucy ducks away, vanishing into her adjoining bathroom, undoubtedly laughing at his expense as she goes. He flops back against the crinkled cushions and groans to himself. This is what he's just signed himself up for, isn't it? She's a little slip of a thing, all dark hair and expressive eyes and charming smiles, but she's gonna own his ass. Really, she already does.
A cellophane-wrapped toothbrush comes sailing through the room a second later, smacking him squarely on the shoulder and dropping right onto his lap.
Her head pops out from around the doorframe, a delighted smile curling upward in invitation. "Let's go, Wyatt. You're falling behind, and no matter what you might say, this is a competition."
It's an ode to the whiskey, to the barstool kisses and lubricated confessions, and he sees it all again - Lucy gulping down enough Macallan to knock her sideways, the casual and not so casual touches, the flirting, the laughing, her body tumbling against him again and again.
He snags that toothbrush with a sudden blast of energy, carving out a path to the bathroom like there's lightning at his heels. No way is he falling behind now, not when the finish line is so unmistakably within his reach.
She greets him with a dazzling grin, handing the toothpaste to him before going to work on her own set of pearly whites. Even in the blandly impersonal setting of a hotel bathroom, it's unbelievable domestic, this side-by-side dental hygiene thing they're doing now, and it's with boundless relief that Wyatt senses no automatic trigger of panic or guilt accompanying that realization. He isn't wigging out. If anything, he's feeling weirdly content, complacent even, like he's just woken up to this brand new love that's snuggled its way right into his heart.