A/N: A progression of moments in Lucy's journey back to Wyatt. Takes place in Future Lucy & Wyatt's original timeline, post 2x10. Not beta'ed, so apologies for errors.
And at last I know my love for you is here,
I can see it all, it is whole like the twilight,
It is large, so large, I could not see it before
Because of the little lights and flickers and interruptions,
Troubles, anxieties, and pains.
She feels it a bit that night, in the firelight, but she isn't quite sure. It could be easy to confuse it, mix it up with longing or desire, a classic case of mistaken identity, a cocktail of lust splashed with familiarity, garnished with moonlight. Anyone could feel this way, would feel this way, with this dress and that pool and the soft, unfair tug of his smile.
She isn't quite sure because this - this feeling in her stomach, her throat, the tips of her fingers - this is new, so new, so unlike anything before, and maybe that should be a clue, the way it scares her and fills her up all at once. But instead she feels unsure, except that she knows she wants this, wants him, and it makes her feel warm and drunk and light in a way the liquor in her glass never could.
And then when it happens, when he touches her and holds her in a way she never knew she always wanted, she feels whiskey in her veins and firecrackers behind her eyes, and in that moment she takes her whole heart out of her chest, every memory and hope and desire, and lays it before him – here it is, I'm yours, be gentle. Vulnerable and bare, stripped of her hesitance, she gives herself to him, every piece she has, and he whispers her name like a prayer, runs his hands along her skin like a surveyor, and she trusts him with everything in her.
And then later, as they drive through California in a brand new vintage car, he smiles at her, and she thinks his eyes are a bit brighter than usual, and maybe hers are too, and maybe that's what happens the morning after you rip the sky open and see the other side, blue and brown and new. And when he reaches his hand across the space between them, when he tangles their fingers together and doesn't let go, she feels herself warm from the tips of her toes to the ends of her hair and she thinks - oh, is this it?
Later, though not much later, her doubts are extinguished and she knows. She knows because no one hurts like this for desire alone, no one aches like this for attraction or friendship. No one feels a brick in their stomach or a pang in their bones if they aren't, if they don't – if.
She thinks of past heartbreaks, the times she cried or sulked or grieved. She lines them up in her mind, stacks them, measures them, weighs them all together, and it all looks like a skinned knee when compared with the blunt force trauma of her heartache now. She sees it again in her mind when sleep finds her, gold and white and the pop of the fire, but it is so blurry, grey, a civil war daguerreotype that seems alien in the present, something once familiar now faded. And it seems silly to miss something she never really had, but they did have something, didn't they? And now – this?
So when he tells her he loves her, when grief and exhaustion allow him to unburden this load that he doesn't ask her to take, she steels her heart against it, swims out of the riptide, because he once kissed her in a way that felt like words and still he let her go, made a choice. And so she sewed up her heart, piece by jagged piece, and locked it all away, and the key feels lost, the combination forgotten, and so she lets him confess, but says nothing.
Yet – she feels it. Its deep within her, nestled under her skin, burrowed against her heart, swimming in her brain, involuntary, like breathing, unconscious and unthinking and a part of her. She can't excise it, can't cut it out and away. But he once looked at her like she was sunshine after a hurricane, and now he looks at the ground, and she knows that grief is gripping him, and guilt is climbing up him like a vine, and she aches along with him, but she's so battered, so worn, so very, very tired. And so she listens and says nothing. But it's there.
So the days go by, a hazy mix of sorrow and confusion, the loss of their friend, their brother, filling up the air between them, their grief vibrating in the background of everything, the new white noise of their existence. And they avoid each other, but also don't, constantly pulled into each other's orbit, sometimes out of necessity, often out of choice, because no one else quite knows what it feels like to mourn a man the world already thought was dead, grieve a friend gone for four days and a hundred and thirty years.
And then one day they're sitting on the couch, and he's flipping through the channels and there it is, a show their friend loved. She feels her hair stand up straight, feels a cool rush go through her like a ghost, and she's looking at him with a sad, crooked smile, her sorrow palpable. "God, I miss him," he says.
She wants to reach for him, take his hand in hers, press her pain into his palm, and she doesn't think anything would feel more real, more cathartic than wrapping herself up in him, taking his grief and giving him hers. But she doesn't.
Instead she gives voice to something else, something slowly pulling at the back of her mind. "Hey," she says softly, almost like she's clearing her throat. "The night that Rufus died, later that night, afterwards," she hesitates, because they haven't discussed the afterwards since, but her eyes find his and he seems to encourage her with a nod. "Afterwards, you said Rufus wanted you to admit it."
He nods more assuredly now. "Yeah," he says.
She starts to speak, then stops, biting back down on her lip, and she isn't sure why she's bringing this up, isn't sure why she cares, except that she misses Rufus and she misses Wyatt and she misses how things used to be, so she continues. "When, uh, when was that?"
And she sees him smile, awash in the glow of cheesy 80s television, and it lights a little something in her, something small, like kindling, and it's a nice image, him smiling. She's missed it. "It was in France. After we found you."
And she nods, darting her eyes down to her lap to avoid his, afraid she'll get pulled in by the undertow of his expression. And she doesn't know what to say now, what to do with that information, why she wanted it in the first place. Because nothing has changed really since they sat against that wall, and nothing has changed now. Except, maybe, it's just nice to know, to think of him and smile; to think of them and smile.
She feels it again, that painful pleasure pushing at her heart. She doesn't say it, she can't. But she feels it. It's there.
He's cooking breakfast for the two of them one morning, everyone else either still sleeping or off working on something else. And she's in the middle of buttering her toast when he suddenly says "I'm sorry."
She stops what she's doing, looks up at him, knife still gripped in her hand. "What?" she responds, a bit confused and off guard. And he repeats it, turning around from the counter to face her.
"I don't think I ever actually apologized to you, for, uh, the way I handled," he clears his throat quietly, "everything." She's looking down at her plate now, avoiding his eyes while he speaks. "If I had been more honest with myself, with you, maybe –" and he stops, because maybe what? Was there another alternative? She spent a few too many sad, lonely nights wrapped up in this melodrama, playing out the scenarios, what she thought he should do, what she wanted him to do, what she needed to do herself, and it all led back to the same answer, the same dead end.
"You did what you thought was best, what I thought was best, too." She tells him and she feels the scar tissue around her heart start to burn and tear.
"You're always making excuses for me." And she can't tell if that's an accusation or a compliment, but she thinks the naked truth of it gives her away.
"Well, I don't think there was an advice column for that situation."
He exhales in a way that she knows is a chuckle, then shakes his head. And now he's come to sit across from her, hands in his lap. "The last thing I'd ever want to do is hurt you, Lucy." And she flinches a little, exhales to steady herself because her life has a nasty pattern of the people who say they love her hurting her the most. "But I did. And that's my burden to carry."
She looks at him, and he looks so open and lonesome, and she's so tired of grieving, so tired of worrying, so tired of men with dead wives whose ghosts they chase through time, and so she sighs and she makes her confession.
"Yeah, well, I could have been more honest too." And he tilts his head, looks at her strangely, but she continues, with an unsteady voice. "I could have been more honest with you, with myself, about how I felt," she pauses, takes a leap, her voice quiet and low. "About what I wanted."
He scans her face a bit, unsure what she means. "What did you want?"
And she swallows, presses her lips together, feels the blood pounding in her ears and her palms getting clammy because this isn't where she thought she'd be at breakfast, this isn't a conversation she was intending on having, and it's all so much, so soon, and she can't. So she shrugs a bit, a cop out, and he sits back a tad deflated. She gets up, clears off her plate, the silence between them screaming so loudly until she breaks it.
"I mean, don't get me wrong, this is still ninety eight percent on you." She says lightly, a wink in her voice cutting the tension and he laughs, turning to look at her, and it feels a step closer to normal, an inch closer to them.
"Thank you for the apology, Wyatt. And for breakfast."
He fixes her tea for her now.
He's up before her and she takes a shower and when she pads out to the kitchen it's waiting for her, green tea with peach, her favorite tea in her favorite mug, sitting on the counter. Every day.
There's a DVD of Bringing Up Baby on the shelf next to the TV. He catches her eyeing it. "Your favorite, right?" and she looks over to him, nods. "Wanna watch?" he smiles. And she nods again. When they laugh at all the same jokes she feels her heart beat a tad faster, a warmth spreading through her chest and up her neck, but it's like it's pulling on stitches, like laughing with broken ribs, the way the happy warmth of him hurts her heart.
She catches him reading one of her books once, a tougher, denser one on the Progressives. His brow is furrowed a bit, like he's reading a foreign language, and when she sees him she laughs. He's a little too embarrassed and she thinks it's awfully cute, the way he blushes slightly, makes a lame excuse. "Not exactly light reading, Wyatt," she teases him.
He rolls his eyes. "I just figured I'd see what all the fuss was about, Professor."
He adds her favorite cereal to the grocery list when they're out. He washes her dirty towels, folds them for her. When he asks if she wants to play a game he offers up trivial pursuit rather than scrabble, and she knows he knows which one she likes better.
They go out on missions, traipsing zigzags through the past together, the two of them. And despite the phantom limb of their absent friend, that's when it starts to feel the most normal, steady; when his hand comes around her arm to pull her back from danger, when he leans in closer to speak in hushed, conspiratorial tones, when she finds his eyes across a room - sure, knowing, calm. "Lucy!" she'll hear him whisper in the dark in 1965, or shout across the prairie in 1890, or say with a bit of a crack in his voice in 1911 as she jolts back to consciousness, broken wrist and smoke filled lungs. And each time there's an echo, a boomerang, a "Wyatt!" in Selma, at Wounded Knee, at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, their reflexive cries for each other tattooed throughout history. Each time, in every decade, he's behind her pushing her forward or three steps ahead clearing the way, and it's so familiar, her trust in him, so real and constant in an existence where they literally rewrite history, and it calms her like a compass or a candle in the darkness, when he's there, matching steps with her.
And then they get back - exhausted, drained, bruised - and he lets her use the shower first; and then when she gets out, it's waiting for her – her favorite tea.
She slips up once. It's an accident, a fall, a patch of black ice and before she knows it she's flat on the ground, trying to figure out how she got there.
Jiya breaks something in her a little that day, six months after the worst thing had happened. She'd been so brave, so steadfast, the newest member of their terrible little club, loved ones lost to time. But she cracked, six months in, and she cried fat, heavy tears as she sat with them, her voice a guilty whisper – I can't remember what his laugh sounded like. And they broke along with her, six months of guilt and grief and anger, and she thought of Amy, her smile and voice that once filled up a room now rusty and faded, lost forever. And how could someone like Rufus, how could a laugh she knew was big and loving and bright like the sun, how could that disappear like dust?
Later he finds her, sitting alone, staring at nothing. She sees him out of the corner of her eye, slow and unsure, approaching her like he might spook her. She helps him out by turning towards him with a "hey" and a light but sad smile. He sits down next to her. Moments pass, quiet, calm. Neither move.
Then she cuts the silence. "Why does it feel like it's going to be like this forever?" Her voice is low, dark, quick. She says no more, doesn't move to look at him, but she can feel him reading her, shifting, understanding her meaning. "Six months, Wyatt. Six months. And it feels like," she pauses, steadies herself. "It feels like, I don't – I don't know," and she loses the thread, doesn't know what she means, just that it feels like forever ago but also just yesterday and like she hasn't taken a deep breath in since before 1888, maybe before 1941, and it's just so much, so much to happen to just one person, and she can't find the words, but she doesn't need to.
He moves closer to her, takes her hand into his, and the number of times he's touched her like this since that night, she thinks it's a handful, so when he presses their palms together it's like a spark in a California drought, the beginnings of something dangerous and destructive, but also beautiful, like embers in a night's sky.
"I just wish things were different," she says, and she doesn't know exactly to what she is referring. Rufus? Her mother? Him, her, them? All of it, everything?
She doesn't cry, she feels like a well gone dry sometimes, but she's close, and he closes the buffer between them, pulling her into his chest, arms enveloping her, and she presses her face into his neck and breathes in like she thought she was drowning. And his arms are so tight around her waist, his hands so strong and steady against her, and she lets herself relax for the first time it what feels like forever.
They sit like that for a moment, wrapped up in each other and their grief, and then he squeezes her tighter before releasing her, pulling back, letting her go. But she moves on instinct, all caught up in the feel of him and she doesn't think, doesn't catch herself, and she slips, kissing him there, six months after.
He stiffens at first, not reciprocating for a beat, and then he finds his feet and relaxes into her, drinking her in like she's water in the desert. And she feels like clay, molding herself to him, all hands and lips and soft, breathy sighs. It feels exactly like she remembers- when she lets herself remember.
But then, she stops. Almost as quickly as she started it she ends it, pulling back, her wide eyes finding his. And she feels almost embarrassed, like she showed too much of her hand after all this time and all this distance. He looks stunned but eager, hopeful, and her heart clenches in her chest to see him this way, eyes scanning her, wanting her but not wanting to hurt her. And it's like she fell down a hole a year ago and she's still falling, weightless, terrified, and still has yet to hit the ground, find concrete, because she's so in love with him, she knows she is, though she's tried so hard not to be, and the words push up her throat, tease at her tongue, she can taste them almost, but they won't come out.
She drops her hands, releasing her hold on him. "I'm – I'm sorry," she stammers, and she is, she is sorry, but is she? Is she really? Did she not want that, does she not want this, has he not proven himself, made his contrition, paid his penance, does she not see him and ache?
He says nothing, looks at her like she hit him with a bus, but offers her a slight, sorry smile. And she stands up and leaves.
It is her birthday. Not that birthdays matter much when you live in a tin can and pretty much everyone in the world outside of the five people you share this hole with think you are dead.
But the country's shadowy sinister organization bent on world domination appears to have taken a few days off, so it's quiet, calm, in a way that makes her uneasy almost, like the eye of a storm.
No one knows. Well, she's sure they know, but no one really cares if they do, and why should they? So she putters around the place, whittles away the day, and curls up on her cot, thinking about nothing and everything all at once.
And then she hears it, the familiar thump of his feet, and a slight tapping on the door. She knows it's him before she even looks up. She smiles a bit in anticipation.
"Hey," she says, a bit of a lilt in her voice. There's more of that now, more of that with him.
"Hey," he echoes, a bit more drawn out, almost like he's nervous.
He stands there for a moment, unmoving. She raises an eyebrow at him, almost chuckling. Then he speaks. "Happy birthday."
Her mouth falls open a bit in surprise, and she feels the familiar pooling of warmth in her stomach when she looks at him. He comes and sits next to her. She keeps his gaze. "I got this for you," he says, and produces a small square packaged wrapped in thin silver paper. A present.
She smiles the smallest smile as she takes the package from him, their fingers brushing, and she shakes her head a bit in disbelief. "You didn't have to-"
"Stop," he cuts her off. "Just take the gift, okay?" He laughs a bit. She lets out a small one of her own, one that grows till she's really smiling, wiggling a bit where she sits, falling victim to the ageless anticipation that comes with a wrapped box.
Her fingers shred through the paper, pulling out the box. She looks up at him, making eye contact, and he nods before she opens it. Inside is a small square pendant, gold, on a chain. A locket. Not hers, that's impossible, but similar. Simple. Beautiful. Lovely.
She says nothing, her mouth almost drying up. She stares at it for what feels like forever, her eyes filling a bit with tears she tries not to shed. She feels him shift nervously. He's unsure of how she will react. "I saw it at that place where we nabbed our clothes, on our trip to '29." He laughs a little. She is still looking at the contents of the box. She picks it up, opens the clasp, as he continues. "I know you gave the other one up to help those people, back then, and I thought," he pauses, unsteady. "I don't know, it was so important to you, Lucy, I thought maybe you'd like to have one again."
She still hasn't said anything. She moves the locket around in her hand, her heart beating like a jackhammer in her chest, and she feels light, airy, for the first time in a long time. And it's as if the world shifted a bit under her feet, the way she feels when she looks at this locket, picked for her by this man who has loved her across centuries, who knows the hills and valleys of her heart and her mind, who saw this in a store and thought of her, of how it would make her happy. She's so full to bursting, so dizzy with the overwhelming sweetness of this moment, and it must be written all over her face, it must be in the air all around her, because it bubbles up inside her chest like uncorked champagne and then it's out, once and for all.
"I love you," she says, and it's like walking outside into the sun after months of a monsoon. And she hears his breath hitch, sees his eyes widen, and he doesn't say anything so she says it again. Then she pulls him to her, her hand still twisted up in the chain of the locket, and kisses him. And it's soft and tender and sweet like summer fruit and she doesn't feel the bitter avalanche of pain and grief and loss that has so defined her world these many months. She feels buoyed, agile, free.
She pulls apart from him slowly, meeting his eyes, her hand softly cupping his face, and he's looking at her like she's a miracle, and then a beat later he says "I'm so sorry. For everything."
"Stop it." She kisses him again, harder now, like she's proving a point. "I know you are, so stop apologizing, okay?" And she feels her eyes go glassy and she lets a tear fall, but she's smiling, so he smiles too, small at first, like he can't believe it, until finally it reaches up into the oceans of his eyes.
"Okay," he replies, and he kisses her again. And this time it lasts forever.