A/N: Oh man, I feel like I have been working on this forever. I can't believe it's finally finished. I hope it matches the quality of the first one. Almost as soon as I finished Sun, I wanted to write more Little Liv but I wasn't sure how it would be received. My girls in the AB talked me into it and gave me the confidence to actually write it. They helped me develop scenes and fragments and discussed song inspirations. They were WONDERFUL and I'm so grateful to have them.
I am also THANKFUL FOR ALL OF YOU WHO ENJOYED THE FIRST ONE. I know it was a big ask to get people invested in a WyJess baby story so I'm incredibly gratified by those of you who took that journey with me. Hopefully you'll like this journey just as much.
Long As There Are Stars (Above You)
i. you never need to doubt it
He didn't know what he expected to happen after he buckled Liv into his usual seat in the Lifeboat, but given what effect time travel had on adults…
He should have seen the mess coming.
Even with the harness as tight as he could get it around the two year old he reached out a hand from the extra fourth seat and held her still. The worst case scenario of her bouncing around the Lifeboat because the seatbelts were too big for her replayed over and over again in his imagination. He thought he knew what worry and paranoia felt like, but he didn't. Not until that moment.
There was just one problem, the harness and his hand couldn't soothe a sick stomach or a pounding head. It bothered him and he was a grown adult who was accustomed to the feeling. It must seem excruciating to a toddler.
Liv screamed and sobbed through the whole trip and every muscle in his body tensed at the sound. There was nothing he could do except keep her firmly in place and pray for the trip to end quickly.
Lucy leaned forward in her seat across from Liv as much as she could and grabbed the babe's tiny hands. She rubbed them soothingly and Wyatt could see her forcing herself to seem more composed. She was pushing down her own nausea in an effort to be present for Liv. If he wasn't in the throes of motion sickness himself, he would be marveling at Lucy's strength. At the moment, he was a little too busy trying to keep himself together.
She smiled warmly at Liv and offered comforting assurances, rubbing Liv's hands and arms as best she could while belted into her own seat. The toddler calmed very slightly at the sound of Lucy's voice and the caress of her touch. A reaction Wyatt knew well. Lucy was a comforting balm to his soul so it only made sense she would offer the same to his daughter. Tears were still streaming down Liv's cherub cheeks but she was no longer howling like a wounded animal. Wyatt would take whatever small amount of peace he could get.
The machine stopped with a jolt and Liv immediately vomited all over the floor between her and Lucy, which caused the return of both the sobbing and the screaming. Only this time Wyatt could do something about it. He unbuckled himself and Liv in record time, scooped the little girl out of her seat, and then opened the hatch.
Jiya, Denise, Mason and Flynn were all waiting when Wyatt stepped out onto the stairs.
"I think they found her," Jiya said as she struggled to be heard over Liv's screaming.
"Yeah, no kidding," Agent Christopher said dryly as she handed Wyatt a plastic bag. "Clothes and other supplies. Welcome to parenthood."
He could hear Rufus mumbling behind him about wishing we still had that cleaning crew from Mason Industries as Wyatt snatched the bag from Denise with a thankful glance. He tucked Liv further into him and ran for the bathroom. He heard Lucy's lighter footfalls behind him, shouting a thank you to Denise along the way.
Liv remained red faced and screaming as he removed her soiled clothes and washed her off. No amount of warm words or smiles seemed to be working. Even Lucy's voice, that had almost soothed her the Lifeboat, wasn't working anymore. Once Liv was clean and in new clothes he cradled her to his chest again and paced helplessly. The two year old had her little arms clutching his neck and her tears were soaking his shirt. He had no idea what to do. And what's worse, Lucy looked just as lost as he did.
They regularly filled in the blanks for each other. What he didn't know, she usually did. But not this time.
Wyatt gave her a desperate pleading glance, hoping she had some bit of knowledge that would help them. His shoulders immediately sagged when Lucy gave him a helpless glance in return. She reached forward and rubbed comforting circle's on Liv's back as she continued to scream and sob. Liv was shaking against him and was gasping for breath. He was at a loss for how to help and he was afraid she was going to make herself sick at this rate.
The sound of her crying was the most painful thing he had ever experienced. It was worse than any fight or gunshot wound or even any pain he'd seen inflicted on Rufus or Lucy, seeing his friends hurt would always be worse than being hurt himself. But this, listening to the sounds of his daughter's pain, was hell on earth. He had no idea how to help her or what she needed and nothing either he or Lucy tried seemed to sooth her. Honestly, he was close to tears himself.
The bathroom door opened and Flynn stepped inside. He looked between Lucy and Wyatt sheepishly before speaking.
"I, um, I think I can help," he offered. He held up a red rubber hot water bottle and then asked, "May I?"
Wyatt nodded as Flynn approached cautiously. He smiled warmly at Liv and brushed one of her blonde ringlets out of her face as he gently slipped the hot water bottle between Liv and Wyatt. He positioned it so it was resting against her stomach and then motioned for Wyatt and Lucy to follow him.
Liv's screaming had dulled to gasping sobs so they followed with bewildered expressions. They were too relieved that something had worked to question it or question Flynn. He led them to Wyatt and Lucy's room and then reached out to take off Liv's little white socks, exposing her bare feet.
"Lay her down," Flynn instructed.
Wyatt tried but Liv had a solid grip around his neck. She refused to let go and he couldn't say he blamed her. He was the only thing she really knew in an unfamiliar place. He was all the comfort she had.
"I don't think that's going to happen," Wyatt said with a worried sigh as he rubbed circles on his daughter's back. Part of him was relishing this, the fact that his daughter needed him, but another larger part of him hated the reason she needed him.
"Fine, then you lay down," Flynn said with a tired huff.
In that moment, Wyatt realized one important thing about parenthood: it made you question everything you thought you knew or felt. Because for the first time, maybe ever, Wyatt didn't bother questioning Flynn.
The hot water bottle he supplied them helped. Maybe Flynn knew what he was doing. Besides, he would try anything if it meant Liv would feel better. His heart was actively aching as long as she was in pain. This probably wouldn't be the first time that happened. He assumed that was normal for parents. But he desperately wanted this moment to pass, for her sake and for his.
Once he was situated on the cots with Liv on his chest, hot water bottle still between them, he gave Flynn a questioning glance.
"Take your hand and gently rub, with light pressure, across the arch of her left foot," Flynn instructed.
Wyatt gave Lucy a skeptical look but she merely shrugged in response as if to tell him it was worth a shot. What's the worst that could happen? Liv was already sobbing a large wet stain into his shirt. He would try almost anything at this point.
He nodded and then did as he was told. A couple minutes later Liv's sobbing faded into sniffles and whimpers as she went slack against him. All three of the adults in the room sighed in relief. It was the first time she'd stopped crying since the Lifeboat roared to life. The silence felt practically foreign. Flynn's tip was working, thank goodness. Wyatt continued to rub Liv's foot until her breathing deepened and she drifted off to sleep.
Liv shifted her tiny body and burrowed herself deeper into his neck. Her little blond curls were sticking to his stubble and her small frame fit perfectly against his chest. He knew then that she was born to fit right there. Born to sleep on top of him as often as she needed. Though, right now, maybe he needed it more than she did. The tension and fear that he felt while she was upset was still flowing through every muscle in his body and having her cradled against his chest was slowly easing all of it.
It also gave him a chance to assess her condition. He didn't know what environment Jessica raised Liv in before leaving her at that home. He thought he knew Jessica better than to suspect her of neglect, but then he had long realized he barely knew this version of Jessica at all. Liv was smaller than he expected and lighter too. He wondered,once again, what her living conditions were like with Jessica and Rittenhouse. Was it normal for a two year old to be this small? Was she underweight? Should they be taking her to a doctor for a check up? She seemed fine but he knew barely anything about kids. His opinion probably didn't mean much.
Flynn knew more about kids than he did based on the assistance he provided a few moments ago. How did Flynn know that would work? Had he learned this with his own daughter? Wyatt felt a sharp pain in his heart at the idea. He knew, without asking, that his suspicion was correct. He could feel it. Wyatt couldn't imagine ever forgetting anything he was going to learn about Liv and how to care for her. No matter what happened, he would store those memories in his heart forever.
He assumed the same would apply to Flynn. Flynn's daughter hadn't been much older than Liv, had she? Wyatt felt rage and sorrow on Flynn's behalf. He held Liv for less than a day and already he knew he would stop at nothing to get revenge if he ever lost her. He understood Flynn now more than he ever had before. Just the idea of someone taking Liv from him was agonizing. Wyatt really thought he knew pain intimately before today, but he was wrong. No pain would ever compare to the pain he would feel if someone took Liv form him. It was immediately his worst nightmare.
And Flynn had actually lived it. Wyatt didn't know how the older man survived it. He probably wouldn't have.
He also got the impression that Flynn was an exceptional father. He was so gentle with Liv when he placed the water bottle against her stomach. There was a warmth and fondness there Wyatt hadn't seen from the man before. Was that who he had been before Rittenhouse took his family from him? Warm and kind and loving? Wyatt knew the answer was yes. He knew because he had drastically changed two times in his life, both because of losing love. Losing the people who defined your world affected the fiber of your being in the way that nothing else could. It changed you permanently and scarred you in places the world would never see.
Rittenhouse hadn't just killed his family, they killed Flynn too in a way. The three of them all knew it now. Flynn showed them who he really was underneath all the snark and volatile anger. As if a memory suddenly struck Flynn, a shadow of sadness passed across his features and he excused himself from the room. Even in his desperation to get away, Flynn made sure the large metal door closed quietly. It was a consideration that Wyatt wouldn't have normally noticed. But after seeing Flynn with Liv, it was now glaringly obvious.
Lucy watched him go and Wyatt knew she wanted to talk to him. Her face was etched with anxious worry. No matter what issues Wyatt had with Flynn, he knew Lucy considered him a friend. She wanted to be there for him.
"Go," Wyatt said quietly. "I've got Liv. Go talk to him."
"You sure?" Lucy asked skeptically as she knelt by their bed.
"Yes, thank him for me," Wyatt assured her with a soft smile. "It's fine."
Lucy nodded, kissed him quickly, and then left the room with hurried steps. Wyatt knew the next time he saw Flynn, this moment would never be acknowledged again. Not with words. Not by either of them. But Wyatt didn't plan to forget. He may not trust Flynn completely, but he understood him better. He knew what the other man was fighting for now and Wyatt knew he would help him however he could when the time finally came to save Flynn's family.
He felt his eyelids grow heavy and fought to stay awake. He passed his first parenting trial with a little help from an unexpected source. He knew there were plenty more trials to come but he also knew he wasn't alone. He could do this. They could do this. He had Lucy, Rufus, Jiya, and even Flynn to help him. It wouldn't be easy, but he could do it. He could love and care for Liv like she truly deserved.
He returned his focus to his daughter and rubbed circles on her back. He turned his head just enough to place a kiss on the crown of her head and then closed his eyes. He meant to rest his eyes for a moment but before he knew it he had drifted off to sleep with Liv on his chest. Father and daughter were emotionally spent. He should've known sleep was inevitable.
They had both been through a lot in the last twenty four hours.
Lucy carefully opened the thick metal door to prevent it from creaking. She could hear no whining or crying beyond the door so she assumed Liv was asleep. She softly closed the door behind her and smiled warmly when her eyes fell on their cots. She felt so much sudden affection that she thought her heart might burst out of her chest.
Wyatt was laying flat with Liv securely held against his chest with both of his hands on her back. Her little body was completely limp and passed out on her stomach. One of her little hands clutched Wyatt's shirt while she sucked on her bottom lip as she slept. It was possibly the sweetest image she had ever seen. She pulled her phone out of her back pocket and snapped a quick picture. Wyatt had survived his first trial of fatherhood and it deserved something to commemorate it. Proof of Liv sleeping soundly and feeling absolutely safe with Wyatt seemed to be more than enough consolation. Lucy changed clothes and then slipped into bed with both of them. She turned onto her side to watch them sleep.
This breathtaking image was her life now. Two people, one of them so young and tiny, made up her entire world. They had a lot to learn about being parents. Parents. Parents. That's what they were now. That was a strange concept. Lucy spent the years since Rittenhouse made their presence known avoiding the idea entirely. She never let herself imagine it. It was hard enough to let herself imagine a life with Wyatt beyond time travel and bullets. Despite her best efforts, here she was committing not only to Wyatt, but his daughter too.
She was grateful to have them both yet terrified of hurting them. What if she turned out like her mother? What if she ended up being surgically manipulative to the point of programming her daughter to fear failure or disappointment? What if the Liv she met was ruined by her hand? She would never be able to live with herself if she made Liv as neurotic as she was. She reached a hand out and brushed a blonde curl out of Liv's chubby face and took a moment to memorize her.
Long lashes rested against her cherub cheeks and her little lips formed a natural pout. The features were shaped like older Liv's and she could see how the child in front of her would mature into the woman that had been her friend. Her skin was young and smooth, creamy complexion with pink undertones. Her nose and her eyes were shaped like Jessica's but otherwise she looked exactly like Wyatt. She was a beautiful child. Lucy hadn't even known her for a day and she already couldn't understand how Jessica could give her up. Then again, she never could understand how her own mother could give her up either, and she had been an adult at the time. It was somehow worse with a child so young. Why would a mother choose Rittenhouse over their own child?
Liv stirred. Her eyes blinked and then stared owlishly at Lucy. Her arms went around Wyatt's neck and she squeezed him tighter as if she thought Lucy might pry her away from him. Lucy reached a finger out and gently ran it down the length of the toddler's nose. She smiled warmly at her and shook her head.
"Don't worry, little one. I'm not moving you," she promised in a whisper. "I know you need him. I need him too."
She smiled brightly at Lucy and then tilted her head upward to place a kiss on Wyatt's chin before turning back to her. "Share?"
Lucy chuckled and nodded. "That's right, Liv. We'll share."
Liv nodded and then tucked herself back into Wyatt. Her eyelids fluttered until they finally shut again, satisfied that Lucy would not keep her from her dad. Lucy settled in next to them and closed her own eyes. As she drifted off she hoped against hope that this would be the first of many nights with her new family. She and Wyatt had never had the best of luck, but maybe Liv could change that.
The next morning, Wyatt woke to find Liv had rolled off of his chest and in between himself and Lucy. She had her face pressed into Lucy's neck but her hands were gripping the sleeve of Wyatt's shirt, like she was comforted by Lucy but couldn't stand to risk losing him. He couldn't blame her. Her mother had walked away from her. She was determined to hold on to her father. She was too young to understand that he wasn't going anywhere. The risk of him leaving was just as great as the risk of Jessica leaving her behind.
Lucy, for her part, looked natural with the little girl. Her head was angled toward her so that her chin was resting on the top of Liv's head and one arm was wrapped around her. Wyatt pried Liv's hand off of his sleeve and felt it wrap around his in a surprisingly strong grip. It reminded him of older Liv's handshake. He smirked and turned onto his side to watch both the women in his life, the fully grown one and the tiny one. Both held a piece of his heart he knew he would never get back.
Maybe it was unconventional, and maybe he had gone about it a bit backwards, but Wyatt finally felt like he found his family. His complete family. He loved Rufus and Jiya. He adored Lucy, but in recent years he had felt a hole amongst them. He never really knew why, especially not when he had no idea Liv existed. But now that he knew her it all made sense. She was always meant to be here with them. She was the final piece of their puzzle.
Beautiful and bright like the midday sun.
He started to get out of bed but the minute he moved a small whine sounded from the cot next to him. Liv turned with half lidded eyes and held out both arms to him expectantly. How did she know he was up?
"Up, daddy," Liv said in a hoarse tone that he assumed was meant to mimic a whisper. "Go with you."
He sighed and smiled affectionately at her. After everything Jessica put her through, he understood what she needed and why she needed it. She wanted Wyatt in her line of sight at all times. He stood from the bed then lifted her into his arms.
"Okay," Wyatt said with a chuckle before he pressed a kiss to her cheek. "Let's go make Lucy some breakfast, huh?"
Liv pointed to Lucy as she slept and then looked at him with wide curious eyes. "Her? Lucy?"
He nodded and carefully exited the room. "Yes, that's Lucy."
"Lucy nice," she told him, as if this was news that he needed to hear as soon as possible. Her eyes were eager and her tone excited. Then she pointed to herself and caught his gaze. "Me? Liv?"
He smirked as they walked down the hall and nodded again. "Yes, that's your name. Liv or Olivia."
"No Gwen?" She asked with a furrowed brow.
He chuckled at her and shook his head adamantly. "No. No Gwen. We are not calling you Gwen."
She beamed at him and nodded so hard and fast that she nearly pitched herself out of his arms. "Good."
In the quiet of the early morning kitchen he let out a full laugh and then pressed another kiss to her cheek. "You're funny, kid. You know that? Are you feeling better? Does your tummy still hurt?"
She rested her head against his shoulder and shook her head. "Hungry."
"Right, me too," he agreed. "What should we eat? Hm?"
"Mama makes pancakes," Liv said as she lifted her head and craned her neck around. She was clearly looking for someone, and he knew exactly who. "Where Mama?"
He could see in her face that she knew. She somehow understood that Jessica was gone and not coming back. But even if she understood, she still looked hopeful. He hated to be the one to take that away from her. What choice did he have?
"Mama left," he said as he sat her down on the kitchen counter and stood in front of her to keep her from falling off. "You're gonna stay with me now. Okay?"
Her tiny bottom lip quivered and her huge eyes welled up with tears. Her arms went around him again and he felt her face in the curve of his neck. "Mama go away?"
He rubbed her back soothingly and placed a kiss into her blonde ringlets. "Yes, babygirl, but I'm here now. You're with me."
"You go away?" Liv asked as she pulled back to look at him. He could see panic and fear. Her little chest heaved as her lip continued to tremble.
"No," he said firmly. "We're both staying here. You and me. I promise."
He grinned at the hopeful expression on her face and felt relief flood his chest. He knew older Liv respected Lucy a great deal but a small part of him worried younger Liv might need more time to adjust. He was glad to see that was not the case. Liv was clearly already attached to her.
"Yes," he answered. "And Lucy."
She took in a deep breath and relaxed, though her face was still tinged with heartbreak. How expressive could a toddler be? Could he read everything on her face because she hadn't learned to hide it yet or because she was related to him? He knew he was no good at hiding his emotions, not to people he cared about at least. Did she get that from him or was it just innocence and trust?
"So, what do you say?" He asked warmly. "You still want pancakes?"
She nodded wordlessly and sniffled. He watched her carefully as he reached for the mixing bowl and he held her firmly in place at the counter as he reached for the ingredients he needed. He bumped her chin playfully as he started to mix everything together and smeared a bit of batter on the tip of her nose. She scrunched up her nose and giggled.
She dipped a finger into the bowl and he held perfectly still while she reached for him, purposefully making himself an easy target. Her finger drew a line across his cheek and then before he could stop her she was laughing and sticking her whole hand into the batter. One quick flick of movement and suddenly her palm was flattened against his other cheek. He felt the squish of the batter as she moved her hand back and forth across his face and then up to his forehead. He closed one eye and grimaced. He should have known better than to start this. But Liv was laughing and it was the clearest and purest sound he had ever heard. No one could fault him for encouraging it.
He put a finger in the batter and then drew a small heart on her cheek.
She let out a rolling giggle and then shook her head at him. "Too messy, Daddy! Too messy!"
"Oh, now it's too messy," he said with an amused smile. "It's not too messy when you're smearing big globs of it all over my face. I get it."
He heard a deep laugh from behind him and felt Liv tense. He calmed her by placing a batter soaked kiss to her forehead and then turned to face the new comer with a smirk.
"Something funny, Rufus?" Wyatt asked his friend knowingly.
"Any of that batter gonna actually make pancakes?" He asked as he sat down at one of the tables near the kitchen. "I'm a little hungry."
"Who?" Liv asked as she pointed a messy finger at Rufus.
Rufus placed a hand on his chest and winked at her. "I'm Rufus."
"Ruf. Us." She repeated before she looked to Wyatt for confirmation.
He nodded. "Yes, Rufus."
"Ruf. Us. Play?" Liv asked as she held out her batter covered hand to him.
"Look what you did, man? Now she's gonna think pancake batter is a toy," Rufus told him with another laugh. "Super parenting already."
Wyatt rolled his eyes at him and then put Liv on Rufus' lap. Liv turned and swiftly placed both her messy hands on Rufus' cheeks. She giggled and then started smearing the batter around while Wyatt grabbed the nearest paper towel and wet it with warm water.
Rufus gave Liv a dry look and nodded. "Sure, okay. This is happening. Are you having fun?"
"Fun!" She yelled. "Ruf is fun!"
"I haven't really done much of anything yet but okay. I'll take it," Rufus said with a chuckle. He looked over at Wyatt expectantly. "You gonna do anything about this or…."
"Yeah, yeah, I'm working on it," Wyatt said as he turned back around and grabbed one of Liv's hands. She wiggled her fingers as he tried to grip them and wipe the batter off of them while continuing to smear batter all over Rufus' face with the other. "Sorry," Wyatt old him with a soft chuckle. "She's a bit of a handful."
"Clearly," Rufus replied with a grin.
He finished with one hand and grabbed the other. While he was cleaning off her other hand she reached to stick her clean hand back in the batter on Wyatt's face but Rufus intercepted her.
"No, no. You little monster," Rufus told her with a smile as he held her small hand in his.
Wyatt finished with the other hand and then started on Liv's face. She blinked and winced and turned her head to fight him as he wiped. It was more difficult than he anticipated to clean off a two year old. He threw that paper towel away and then wet another one that he handed to Rufus and then a third for himself.
Liv stood on Rufus' lap and took the paper towel from him. She copied Wyatt's actions from earlier and started wiping the batter from Rufus' face.
"I help, Ruf. See?"
Her touch was too light to really make a difference but Rufus nodded anyway. "Yep, I see."
"Ruf stay, too?" Liv asked as she turned back to look at Wyatt. When she turned Rufus tugged the paper towel from her hand and wiped his own face.
Wyatt smiled easily as he turned on the stove to heat up the skillet. "Yes, Rufus is staying too."
"Yay!" She exclaimed as she threw her arms around Rufus. "Ruf stay!"
Wyatt chuckled at the bewildered look Rufus wore as he hugged Liv to him.
"What's this about?" He asked.
"She's afraid of people leaving," Wyatt explained as his smile tipped downward. It was an awful fear to see in someone so young. Jessica leaving her was bad enough but seeing the mark it left on Liv felt worse.
"Ah, well, Gwen-Gwen," Rufus told her with a soft reassuring grin. "You're stuck with Uncle Rufus. I'm not going anywhere. I mean, I couldn't even if I wanted to but that's besides the point."
As Wyatt started the pancakes he smiled to himself. This morning served to remind him of two things: Lucy and Rufus. They were both here and constant, ready to help him and Liv with whatever they needed. A family.
ii. i'll make you so sure about it
Denise arrived for the day just as Wyatt finished making breakfast. She walked in to find everyone seated around the table with Liv on Lucy's lap while Wyatt cut up pieces of sausage and pancake for the child. It was interesting to her how natural Wyatt was with the two year old. Liv picked up a piece of sausage and held it out to Lucy.
"Lucy, want some?"
Lucy smiled warmly at her before she opened her mouth and let Liv put the small bite of sausage in her mouth. Lucy snapped her lips closed around Liv's finger playfully, careful to avoid actually biting down. Liv laughed and pulled her hand away. She turned back to face Wyatt and then leaned back against Lucy, resting her head against Lucy's chest.
It was an adorable picture that Denise never thought she'd see in a old rusted missile silo, but yet it felt strangely right to see a family scene play out in the mess area. Denise set down a shopping bag on the table before addressing the group.
"I have made an appointment at a pediatrician for Liv," Denise told them. "Just a check up to make sure everything is as it should be and I brought a change of clothes for her. And, kids," she said with a smirk. "You're all going on a field trip." She paused and pointed to Flynn. "Not you."
"Field trip?" Jiya asked eagerly.
"Walmart," Denise answered. Jiya's face fell and she grimaced as Denise continued. "For toddler supplies. A toddler bed, clothes, food, everything this little one is going to need if she's going to live with us. Wyatt and I will take her to the doctor while Lucy, Rufus, and Jiya shop for supplies." She turned a stern look on Rufus and Lucy. "Agents will be with you at all times. Do not lose them. Clear?"
"Clear!" Liv yelled excitedly as she reached for another piece of sausage.
"Good," Denise replied with a chuckle. "Wheels up in an hour."
Lucy was prepared. She had at least two parenting books in her purse, both highlighted and tabbed. When they arrived at the store Lucy handed the book on dietary needs to Jiya and sent her off to the grocery section with a shopping cart. While she and Rufus headed toward the clothes and home goods with a second cart. They picked up the obvious necessities first: toothbrush, toothpaste, bath soap, and baby shampoo. That was all easy and fine until they reached the children's clothes.
Both she and Rufus stared in horror at the section of girls' clothes. None of them seemed like Liv. They were pink and frilly with stars and unicorns and flowers.
Rufus picked up one shirt and held it up to Lucy with a disgusted look on his face. "Sparkle all day? Are you serious? Liv would hate this." He put the pink t-shirt down and picked up another blue and gold one. "This one says 'Princess Squad'. No, no way. No frills, no flowers, no cheery slogans."
Lucy understood his point. The Liv they knew would have hated all of this, but the part of her that was worried about becoming her mother nagged her with another thought.
"This Liv is not our Liv, Rufus," she reminded him. "Maybe she would like these things. We don't really know."
He quirked a brow at her. "The Liv you spent time with this morning, did she seem like a flowers, sparkle, and unicorns kind of girl?"
Lucy sighed and shook her head. "I guess not. But I...well I don't want to assume."
He chuckled. "Lucy, she's two. She probably doesn't even know what she likes and what she doesn't."
"Exactly!" Lucy exclaimed. "What if we dress her like we think older Liv would like to dress and rob Liv of the actual choice to dress that way? I don't like the idea of assuming that little Liv is the same as older Liv."
"So, wait, let me get this straight," Rufus said with a furrowed brow. "You think we're going to project onto Liv who we think she should be because we still remember an older version of her? And that if we buy things we think older Liv would like then we're pressuring Little Liv to be that person?"
"I'm worried that we might, yes," Lucy said with a conflicted pinched expression.
"But if older Liv was naturally inclined to like the things we know she liked then wouldn't it stand to reason younger Liv would be too?" He asked as he scratched his forehead thoughtfully.
"Maybe? I don't know I just...I want her choices and her life to be her own. I don't want to try to force her to grow up to be the Liv we knew just because we knew her. Does that make sense?" Lucy asked as she rubbed her temples to try and ease the tension between them.
"To a normal person? No. But to me? I think so? It's hard to tell. I'm starting to get a migraine just thinking about it," Rufus answered as he rubbed the back of his neck. "So...what do we do? By that logic how are you and I supposed to pick out her clothes?"
Lucy bit her bottom lip and narrowed her eyes as she contemplated what to do. She huffed and then shrugged. "I don't know I guess we...buy different styles and see which ones she prefers? Or maybe we close our eyes and just pick a bunch of random outfits?"
"Close our eyes?" Rufus asked with a laugh. "Do we need to spin three times too or wear a blindfold?"
Lucy winced and gave him an apologetic glance. "That did sound kind of ridiculous, didn't it?"
Rufus held up his thumb and his forefinger with an amused grin. "Just a bit. Okay, how about this? We buy an excess of clothes. We buy what we like and what we think Liv would like then if she very clearly doesn't like something we'll have Christopher bring it back. And the next time we go shopping we'll insist that Liv is with us. Because she may be only two but I have a feeling she would have a very clear opinion on a few of these things." Rufus placed a hand on Lucy's shoulder when her worried expression didn't fade. "All we can do is our best, Lucy. The fact that you're even worrying about this tells me that you don't have to worry about turning Liv into someone she doesn't want to be." He squeezed her shoulder and leaned a little closer. "Don't think I don't know what this is really about."
"It's about Liv. Nothing else."
"No, it's about your mother," Rufus said with a sympathetic smile. "You're worried you'll do to Liv what she did to you, but trust me. You won't. You are not your mother. If you were I would be completely terrified of you and, as it stands, I'm only a slightly terrified of you."
"Gee, thanks, Rufus," she said as she let out a laugh that reflected the barest trace of tears. She hadn't even realized there was water pooling in her eyes until just then.
"Hey, fear is power, my friend," Rufus told her with a chuckle. "Enjoy it."
"Okay," Lucy said as she took a deep breath. "Let's do this. You pick out a few outfits and then I'll pick out a few outfits. We'll see what Liv hates later."
"On it," Rufus said as he turned and started flipping through the clothing racks.
They didn't compare outfits, didn't ask for each other's opinions. They just threw the clothes in the cart and carried on. They picked out the most basic wooden toddler bed and a crib mattress. Rufus went off to pick out a few toys and Lucy split off to look for bedding. She went as neutral as possible with a set that was white, gray, and navy. When she found Rufus again the cart was overflowing. They checked out and made it back to their government issue SUV just as Jiya was finishing loading the food.
The vehicle was almost too small for all of their purchases. Lucy looked between Rufus and Jiya as they started on their way back to the bunker.
"You don't think we overdid it, do you?"
"Oh, absolutely we did."
Wyatt, Liv, and Denise made one stop on their way to the pediatrician. Wyatt and Liv waited in the car and when Denise returned she handed Wyatt a document sized envelope.
"Birth certificate, Social Security card, insurance paperwork. All with Liv's updated name. Figured I would cut through the red tape for you," Denise told him.
"Thank you," he told her. "I hope you don't mind my using Olivia. I know that could get confusing for you."
Christopher's brow furrowed. "Why would that get confusing?"
Dread filled Wyatt as he continued but he tried not to show it. "Because...of your Olivia. Your youngest?"
"You mean Julia?" Denise asked. "My daughter?" She pulled out her wallet and flipped to a family portrait.
Wyatt let out a breath, he didn't know he was holding, when a familiar young face smiled up at him from Denise's lap. Same child, different name. That was interesting. Why would her daughter's name change?
"Right, Sorry," Wyatt replied. "I must have been confused."
"No you weren't," Denise said with a tired sigh. "What changed?"
"Just that Julia used to be named Olivia," Wyatt answered. "It's the exact same girl, she's just named something different."
"Why would my daughter's name change?" Denise asked. "Did I name my daughter after yours?"
"You may have," Wyatt told her with an unsure shrug. "You were very close to her."
Wyatt gave Denise a half smile and nodded. "Did you look at the name I told you I wanted to give her? I don't think you did."
"Olivia Logan, yes?"
"The middle name, Agent Christopher," Wyatt said as he handed her the envelope. "Look at the middle name."
While he waited for her to read the documents he turned toward Liv and winked at her. "This is gonna be good. What do you think, babygirl?"
Liv smiled brightly and leaned as close to him as she could through the car seat restraints. She placed a loud smacking kiss to Wyatt's cheek and giggled. "Good."
Denise read over the documents and placed a hand over her heart, as if the words leapt off the page and straight into her chest. "Her middle name is Denise?"
"You practically raised Liv in the other timeline. You meant so much to her. I know neither of you remember but I couldn't let that be lost in all the time travel. I had to make sure we remembered it somehow, and this...well this felt right," Wyatt told her. "This is what my friend would have wanted. You were her mother when she didn't have anyone. You both deserve to keep that connection as much as possible."
"Daddy," Liv said as she leaned back to glance at Denise curiously. Her eyes came back to his, perfectly round and full of concern. "Agent Topher cry?"
Sure enough, the hardened agent that had given him hell and kept him safe when he made it difficult was crying. She reached behind Wyatt and stroked a finger across Liv's cheek before she addressed her.
"Happy tears, little one. I promise." Denise Christopher wiped at her eyes discreetly and shook her emotions away. He watched her school her features to professional and impassive before she spoke again. "Now, let's get going, huh? I believe we have an appointment. Wouldn't want to be late."
Wyatt chuckled at her and gave her a fond grin. "No, we wouldn't want that."
They arrived at the pediatrician and check in. Wyatt was given a stack of forms that were more intense than any he had ever filled out before, and he was definitely no stranger to paperwork. They wanted his medical history, Jessica's medical history, and anything he knew about Liv's medical history. He understood why they would want that information but the problem was...Wyatt didn't know hardly any of it.
He reached the section about allergies and rubbed a hand across his forehead. These were things any other father would know, but he had barely had Liv for a day. Then there were questions about her behavioral progress. Was she potty trained? He assumed so since she hadn't been wearing a diaper or a pull up when they found her but he could be wrong. How big was her vocabulary? She could manage broken sentences. During the short time he had been around her she managed between 10-20 words. Was that normal? Did she know more words than that? At what age did she take her first steps? He'd love to know that himself but Jessica denied him that moment. The same answer applied to the question asking him how old she was when she spoke her first word. He didn't know.
He didn't know much of anything.
Barely a day and he was already awful at being a dad.
He threw the clipboard down on the table next to him with a loud slap. Other parents in the well waiting room turned to look at him. Their faces were all a mix of curiosity and annoyance. Who was he kidding? He wasn't a dad. How could you know how to be a dad when you never really had one?
He watched as Liv played with a large wooden puzzle at a nearby table. The shapes were different types of transportation. He listened as Liv made various sounds to match the vehicles. How much did she know? How much had Jessica and Rittenhouse been teaching her? She held up a piece in the shape of an airplane to show him. She made it fly through the air with a swooshing sound and then placed the piece clumsily in it's spot.
What conditions had she been living in all this time? He needed to know. He needed to be able to deal with any surprises. He needed to know how to protect her and what to protect her from. But there was no way for him to get those answers. Liv wouldn't be able to tell him. She wouldn't understand. So once again, he was already awful at the one thing he should be able to do. Protect her.
He slumped back in the stiff waiting room chair and scrubbed his hands over his stubble. Why did he convince himself he could do this? He would screw this up just like everything else. He heard someone sit down next to him and then felt a pat to his knee.
"What's going on? You're pouting."
He scoffed as he glanced up at Denise and handed her the clipboard. "You know any parent who wouldn't be able to fill out these stupid forms besides me?"
"You just met her yesterday, Wyatt. This is going to take some time. No one can expect you to know her entire history in one day."
"That's just it," he said with a forlorn sigh. "I'll never know her entire history. She's two years old. I've missed so many things."
"Yes, you have," Denise said with a nod. "But you can't think about that. You need to think about all you're going to have. Everything you and Lucy can give her." She held the clipboard out to him and then placed in his lap when he didn't take it from her. "What's in these forms is unimportant. I know it seems like it is, but it isn't. What's important is her." Denise pointed to Liv as the toddler moved a wooden car puzzle piece across the table. "And how you care for her. You may have only had a day but I have noticed. She adores you and Lucy. You're both so natural with her. I have no doubt you will be wonderful parents. So that information on those forms is not what matters. Those are things you can learn. What matters, more than anything, is the love you feel for each other. Don't forget that. You didn't have a choice but to miss things before. You do now. Don't let that self doubt I know you have cause you to miss anything."
In that moment, she wasn't Agent Christopher. She was a mother. A mother who knew what it was like to raise a child and worry about the multitudes of mistakes a parent could make. He could see her own worry, that she'd worn for years, on her face. But for every worry line he knew she had just as many happy memories to look back on. Agent Christopher was a mother, a wonderful mother, and she was right.
The past didn't matter. What mattered was what he decided to do with the present.
The agents helped them unload all their new purchases and Lucy felt overwhelmed. There was too much to go through and put away. Jiya bought too much food. Things they would never use. Things Liv was too old for.
Baby food. Prepackaged toddler meals. Formula. Clearly, Jiya did not refer to Lucy's notes. She huffed and looked to her younger friend for an explanation.
She merely shrugged and replied, "I panicked!"
Lucy let her figure out where they would store all of it. She then went to her and Wyatt's room. Where the small cheap wardrobe and toddler bed would need to be assembled and arranged. Thankfully, they'd been given one of the larger rooms when they told the group they intended to share quarters. It should all fit but it would be tight.
She managed to assemble the wardrobe and fit all the clothes she and Rufus bought inside of it. She even cleared out a drawer in the ancient dresser she and Wyatt had for Liv's underwear and pajamas.
That was the other thing she and Wyatt would have to talk about. Liv had been wearing underwear when they found her and she had made it through last night in them, but how did they know if she was off of pull-ups? They were picking up in the middle of raising Liv and nothing seemed clear.
Once the clothes were but away she set her sights on the bed. It would need to be built. The wardrobe was an easily put together metal frame with a cloth cover. The bed was wooden and required a drill or a screwdriver. Lucy didn't trust herself to put it together. Wyatt was still out with Liv and Agent Christopher. So that left her Rufus, Flynn, and Mason to choose from.
Flynn was out. If he put the bed together and Wyatt found out, Liv would never be allowed to sleep in it. She found both Rufus and Mason looking through the toys that had been purchased. Or rather playing with them. They were building things out of Liv's new Duplo blocks.
She chuckled and watched them with her hands on her hips. "You big strong men want to build something real?"
"We did," Mason said as he pointed over his shoulder. "We built a time machine."
"Two actually," Rufus corrected him.
"Yes, I apologize. Two time machines."
"One of which was stolen by a terrorist and then used by an evil cult to try and take over the world," Lucy reminded them teasingly. "Let's not over inflate our egos, hm?"
"Fair point. What do you need?" Rufus asked with a smirk.
"You guys know how to build a toddler bed? I could try it but I'll probably hurt myself."
"And with the Master Sergeant gone, we wouldn't want that. Would we?" Mason asked. "He would surely blame us."
"Right, let me get the power drill," Rufus said with a nod. "We'll have it done in a snap."
A snap turned into two hours with Mason and Rufus bickering over how best to put it together.
"That's not what the instructions say."
"Oh, bloody hell, I don't give damn what the instructions say! I know what I'm doing."
"The safety rails go on both sides, you've got both rails on one side! Clearly, you don't know what you're doing."
"I have been putting together technology since before you were born. I think I can handle a tiny rubbish cheap bed without it going all to pot."
"How many screws did this come with?"
"How should I know do you think I counted them?"
"I think we're missing a few."
"How many was it supposed to come with?"
"What does it matter if you didn't count them when you opened the bag, Connor?"
"You know, if you're going to sit there and whinge the whole time then perhaps you should find something else to occupy your time."
They were both driving her insane. Wyatt could probably have had it done by now. Lucy sighed and left the room. Tea. She needed tea. You would think one small bed would be a simple task for two of the brilliant engineers who invented time travel, but apparently not. She started the kettle and then decided to wash the new bedding she bought for Liv's bed. She wasn't sure if Liv had any allergies but she thought it was better to buy the fragrance free and hypoallergenic detergent just in case. She made it back to the kitchen just in time for the kettle to whistle and allowed herself a moment to sit with a hot cup of tea.
Why did she have the distinct feeling that a quiet moment with a hot cup of tea would be a rare occurrence for her from now on? She had better enjoy it while she could.
A few minutes later she heard the bunker door open and close and then small light steps hurrying toward her.
"Whoa, Liv! Wait!"
Lucy saw Liv run around the corner and set her tea down. The little girl's eyes had zeroed in on Lucy and she knew just what was coming. Liv reached Lucy's chair and launched herself into the air with her arms held out wide. Lucy let out a grunt as she caught Liv and then pulled her to her chest. She didn't realize the toddler was crying until wet cheeks and a runny nose were pressed into her neck.
She placed a hand on the back of Liv's head and rubbed soothing circles on her back as her eyes found Wyatt's. He sighed and shook his head.
"They pricked her finger at the pediatricians," he answered in a tone that illustrated just as much pain as Liv's tears and runny nose.
Lucy cradled the two year old to her and placed a kiss to her temple. "Poor thing. That's awful." She paused and then pulled back to look Liv in the eyes. "Did they put a bandaid on it?" Liv held up her finger to show Lucy, being sure to place the bandaid very nearly in Lucy's eye. "Who is that on your bandaid?" She asked her as Liv sniffled again.
"Elmo," Liv answered with a pout.
"Well, that's much better than my bandaids," Lucy told her with a soft smile. "Mine are boring. See?" Lucy held up her hand to show Liv a plain tan bandaid she'd placed around her finger after receiving a nasty papercut from the wardrobe instruction packet.
"Lucy, ouchie too?" Liv asked as she grabbed Lucy's hand and inspected the bandaid closely.
Lucy nodded and tossed a playful glare at Wyatt as he chuckled at her.
"All the time. Lucy has ouchies all the time," he answered with a smirk.
"I kiss it," Liv told her with a decisive nod as she kissed the tip of Lucy's finger. "All better."
Lucy sucked in a breath and then felt her eyes water. It was the tiniest thing, but the certainty on Liv's face struck Lucy hard in the chest, right over her heart. How long had it been since she'd believed in something so simple as 'kiss it better'? How many years had passed with wounds too deep and too festering for a kiss to heal? How long would it be before Liv stopped believing that a kiss had that power at all? Was there a way that Lucy could suspend time and keep Liv forever as innocent as she was now?
Surely, the engineers bickering in the next room could think of something. There needed to be some way to stop the loss of innocence. Even after watching her mother abandon her, Liv was full of trust and faith for the people around her. Lucy yearned to be like that, to have the loving heart of a child. It was too late for her, but she could make sure Liv kept her innocent unspoiled heart for as long as possible.
"Thank you," Lucy told her with an affectionate smile. "My turn." She grabbed Liv's hand and placed a small kiss to her bandaged finger. "All better."
"All better!" Liv repeated with a broad smile.
Lucy stood with Liv still in her arms and walked over to the duplo blocks Rufus and Mason had left out. Liv saw them and immediately wiggled her way out of Lucy's arms.
"Play!" Liv shouted in excitement.
"Okay, okay," Lucy said with a laugh as she sat her down in front of the blocks. "Go crazy."
While Liv started to piece together the oversized blocks, Lucy pulled Wyatt aside. She gripped his chin gently and then pulled his lips down to hers for a quick, firm kiss. She felt his muscles relax as they pulled apart. He shook his head and cast Liv a worried glance. She knew exactly what he was thinking. His heart was big but it wasn't big enough for all the guilt he carried around in it.
"She's fine, Wyatt," Lucy assured him. "She's already over it."
"She cried so much," he told Lucy as he wrapped his arms around her waist. "I had to hold her hand still while they did it. I've never felt more like a traitor in my life. The look she gave me just before they stuck her finger…"
She framed his face with her hands and met his stricken blue eyes with a soft grin. "You are the most loving man I have ever known. You are not a traitor to your daughter. You know as well as I do that they have to do that every now and then. Especially because we know nothing about where she's been or how she was treated. It'll be for the best in the end."
He nodded. "You're right. I know you're right."
"So, what did the doctor say?" Lucy asked.
"She's a little underweight," Wyatt told her. "But otherwise completely healthy. He spent a little time with her to try and get a sense of her behavioral development and he said she's actually advanced for a two year old. Also, in case you were wondering like I was, Liv says she is potty trained. Or well, in her words, she uses the big potty."
Lucy chuckled and nodded. "I was wondering. I did buy pull ups. We should probably keep them to put on her at night, though. Just in case. That's what one of the books I read suggested anyway. And speaking of," She said as she motioned over to Liv. Liv was still playing but bouncing from one leg to the other as she did and looking a little too focused on her task. "I think she may need to go."
Wyatt laughed lightly as he watched her. "Hey, munchkin. Do you need to go potty?"
"No," Liv answered with a determined expression.
"I think you do," Lucy told her.
"No," Liv repeated. "I play now."
"Olivia," Wyatt said sternly. "Time to potty and then you can come back and play."
Lucy bit her bottom lip with an amused expression. Wyatt had a Dad voice. Never once had she heard that tone from him. Firm and insistent, but still gentle. Plus, you knew you were officially a parent when you used the word potty at least four times in as many minutes.
He pointedly refused to look at Lucy. She knew what would happen if he did. She wasn't sure why this all struck her as amusing. She placed a hand over her mouth and did her best to make sure the rest of her face didn't reflect her impending laughter.
Liv's little brow furrowed as she glanced between Wyatt and the toys. Her expression looked worried as she finally stepped away from the blocks. She walked over and took the hand Wyatt offered her but gave Lucy a pleading look as she spoke. "Don't take toys. Be right back."
Lucy nodded and bent down until she was eye level with Liv. "Those are your toys, Liv. They're not going anywhere."
She looked satisfied with that answer but still wary. Lucy and Wyatt exchanged curious glances. This was more than just a stubborn toddler. Did she have toys while she was with Jessica? Surely, she did. Would Jessica and Rittenhouse deny a child toys?
As Wyatt was leading Liv to the bathroom, Rufus and Mason appeared. They looked irritated and exhausted. They stood a foot apart and glared at each other from the corners of their eyes.
"Bed's finished," Rufus told them. "Also, I am never building furniture with him again."
"I would have figured it out eventually," Mason bristled.
"Yes, eventually, but Liv needs it tonight," Rufus told his mentor with a roll of his eyes.
Wyatt turned to look at her with a horrified expression. "You let them put together my daughter's bed?"
"You weren't here. It was either them or Flynn."
He huffed at her and shook his head before he picked up Liv. "Next time wait for me or ask Jiya. Building a time machine and building furniture are two totally different things."
She mock saluted him with a roll of her eyes as he turned his back on her. Liv saw it over his shoulder and laughed with high pitched delight. She tapped Wyatt's shoulder and then pointed at Lucy.
"Lucy funny, daddy."
"Yeah, she's a real riot," Wyatt replied sarcastically with a wink at Lucy. "If you think she's funny now just wait till you see her fall for the first time. You're gonna love that."
"Jerk," Lucy called out as he left, laughing through the word.
That night they had to figure out bathtime for the first time. Somehow, they forgot the bunker bathroom only had a shower. They tried starting the shower and trying to get Liv under it but she refused and then sobbed in fear. Wyatt had her wrapped in a towel and tucked into his chest as Lucy turned off the water. Neither of them could figure out a good enough alternative.
It was Rufus who saved the day.
He knocked on the heavy metal bathroom door and when they answered it he stepped through holding an inflatable raft and a short hose.
"The thing about being an engineer," Rufus said with a smirk. "Is that I'm always thinking ahead. It's a good thing Christopher sent me to Walmart with you earlier today, Lucy. You'd be out of luck if she didn't."
Rufus set the small inflatable raft down on the floor and then hooked up the hose to a nearby spicket. He filled the raft with warm water and then held out his hands toward Liv. When Liv didn't lean toward him, Rufus pulled a rubber duck out of his pocket. Wyatt grinned at him and shook his head when he realized the duck was dressed like Princess Leia.
"Where did you even find that?" Wyatt asked with a laugh.
"Walmart has everything, man," Rufus answered as he squeezed the rubber duck.
It squeaked and Liv's face lit up. She reached out for Rufus and the duck. Rufus smiled warmly at her as Wyatt handed her over and handed her the duck.
"Thought that might persuade you," he told her.
Her tears and sniffles subsided as Rufus placed her in the water. He then turned to face Lucy and Wyatt with a small playful bow. "You're welcome. I'll leave you both to it."
"Bye bye, Ruf!" Liv called after him with a wave. She held up the duck with one hand and gave him a toothy grin. "Thanks!"
"You're welcome, Gwen-gwen," Rufus told her with a wink. "Enjoy."
Lucy chuckled as she watched Liv play with the duck and hum a song to herself. It was a total reversal from her emotional state while the shower was running. All because Rufus had to forsight to think about bathtime.
"I guess it really does take a village sometimes," Lucy told Wyatt with a grin. "And if we had to have help then I'm glad it's this village that's helping us."
Mason was ready to have a night to himself. The bunker was loud and noisy and, while he loved this family he'd stumbled into, he needed time alone. Time to sit and be. There was no better way to sit and be than to sit and listen to his music. He pulled out his record player and chose his favorite record, Robert Johnson. Of course. He sat down on his bed as the record began to play and closed his eyes. He let the music and the vintage crackles and pops of the record wash over him. Slowly, he felt his posture ease and he worries lift away.
He suddenly felt a tiny hand on his knee. His eyes flew open with a startled expression and found Liv standing next to his leg, watching the record spin on the turntable. She was transfixed for several minutes as she listened to the music and watched the record go around. Finally, she turned toward his bed and lifted her leg to climb up next to him.
She pulled at his sheets and the metal frame and struggled to join him on the bed. He reached out a hesitant hand and gave her bottom a light push to allow her foot to get proper leverage on the bed frame. She ended up face first on his mattress before she rolled over and then sat up next to him. She looked from him to the record player and then closed her eyes as he had done earlier.
He watched her sway to the music and smile to herself as she listened. Her hand stayed steady on his knee the entire time. Mason had never been one to really like children. He didn't dislike them. He simply didn't know how to relate to them. But this he could do. He could sit and listen to music. There was no limit to how long or how often he could do that.
His "yeah", from the mission that changed his life, sounded from the record.
"Yeah!" Liv repeated with a huge smile as her eyes opened and she applauded. "I like this! Again, please!"
"Again?" Mason asked with a warm grin.
She nodded. "Again! Again!"
He needed no further prodding to do as she asked. He started the song over and Liv leaned into his side. He froze for a moment and then wrapped an arm around her. She closed her eyes and continued to listen, swaying gently and kicking her feet as they dangled off the bed.
He heard from Rufus that the older version of Liv was a fan of music, but no one had tested that with baby Liv yet. Mason was pleased to realize that he could now report to the others that young Liv seemed to like music just as much as her older counterpart.
Some things didn't change, no matter how old or young you were. For Liv, it seemed music was one of those things. He worried he would have no connection to the toddler when they brought her to the bunker. He was glad to be wrong.
No one could find Liv. They had breakfast. They played. They put her down for a nap. Wyatt came back to check on her and she was not in their room. This happened once before and they found her sitting with Mason, listening to his music, so Wyatt checked there again. She wasn't there. No one had been in or out of the bunker all day so he shoved all worst case scenarios to the back of his mind. She was here somewhere. It was a big bunker. It also was not the safest place for a child to be wandering alone.
Lucy and Rufus were looking for her as well. Jiya was checking the main silo but Wyatt knew she wouldn't be there. They discovered that Liv was terrified of the Lifeboat. Lucy tried to show it to her and Liv broke down. She shook with sobs and desperately gripped at Lucy's neck as she begged her to turn around. Wyatt understood. She had time traveled exactly twice. The first time her mother left her and the second had made her sick.
So, given her fear he knew she wouldn't go anywhere near the Lifeboat, but it was best to leave no stone unturned.
He stomped down the hall passed the laundry room and heard a familiar uninhibited tinkling laugh. Liv.
"Hey, you know, I don't care how cute you are this is not a room for climbing."
One corner of Wyatt's mouth ticked up at the sound of Flynn's gruff voice. He hadn't spent much time around Liv since that first day. Wyatt assumed the wounds of losing Iris were still too fresh, despite the many years that had passed since.
"No, stop it, you're going to get hurt and I cannot have anyone blaming me for not watching you. You little monkey," Flynn said with a chuckle.
"Up, Flynn," Liv yelled. "Please, up!"
Well, at least she remembered the please, even if she did scream it. When Flynn didn't reply Wyatt peeked around the doorway to see Flynn smiling teasingly at Liv and then looking away from her. He went back to folding his laundry and ignored her request.
Liv pouted from her seat under the table, that they used for folding, and then stood and walked toward him. She stood at Flynn's leg and looked all the way up at the towering height of him. She narrowed her eyes as she tugged on his pants leg.
He ignored her again with a knowing grin. Wyatt watched in amusement as Liv then grabbed a hold of Flynn's leg and wrapped herself around it. Flynn attempted to shake her off but her grip was too strong.
He rolled his eyes and chuckled. "Just as annoying as your dad. You are definitely a Logan." His words were mean but his tone was fond.
This was more of that Flynn from the day Wyatt brought Liv home. The Flynn that had clearly been a good father. Wyatt couldn't bring himself to interrupt or look away.
Flynn continued his laundry with Liv attached to his leg. She giggled every time he moved. He ignored her, but Wyatt noticed him taking extra high and slow steps. He was playing with her. Garcia Flynn had a soft side. He knew Lucy saw it every now and then. But Wyatt seeing it for himself would always be jarring.
Flynn stomped carefully to the doorway, making a show of straining to walk, and then stopped to face Wyatt. He had no idea when he spotted him but it was clear he was aware of his presence.
"Master Sergeant, I believe this monkey belongs to you," he said as he bent down and pried Liv off of his leg. "I caught her trying to climb the appliances."
Liv laughed as Flynn pretended to drop her and then shrieked and hugged his neck to keep him from doing it again. "Stop, Flynn! Daddy, help!"
Wyatt chuckled at her, holding out his arms. "Come on, Munchkin. Let's let Flynn finish his laundry."
She switched from Flynn to Wyatt and then waved as Wyatt turned to walk away. "Bye bye, Flynn!"
"Goodbye, Majmun," Flynn answered with a tone that reflected the soft smile on his face.
"Thanks, Flynn," Wyatt said as he cleared his throat awkwardly. "I just looked away from her for a second."
"It happens," Flynn told him in an understanding tone. "I'm happy to help. With a rascal like this one," the taller man said as he lightly pressed Liv's nose with his finger. "You're going to need it."
Flynn was right. He was going to need all the help he could get and, as unbelievable as it was, Flynn seemed to care about Liv. Maybe it was time he allow him a small amount of trust. Not too much though. They still weren't friends. They would never be friends.
iii. god only knows
Three days with Liv felt like a lifetime. Routines began to form early. The easiest routine was bedtime. Liv fought them on it every night but once they had her in pajamas and tucked into bed the magical solution to her restlessness was easy and Wyatt couldn't say he was surprised.
He always suspected that Lucy Preston was capable of magic. Of course, she would be the one to be able effortlessly put Liv to bed. Liv's bath was done, her hair was combed and braided, and her teeth were brushed. Wyatt held a small sippy cup of water, ready for her to ask for it at any moment, as Lucy tucked the sheets around the toddler.
"Lucy, story?" Liv asked as she reached toward Wyatt for her water. "Sit, daddy," Liv said as she pointed to the floor beside her bed. "Lucy storytime."
Wyatt grinned at Lucy but did as he was told. "You heard her, Luce. Storytime."
Lucy rolled her eyes at him with a warm smile and then sat down on the other side of Liv's bed. "Hmm, what story should we hear tonight?" She glanced upward with an exaggerated thoughtful glance and then looked back down at Liv. "Maybe a story about a princess?" Liv scrunched up her nose and shook her head. Lucy laughed and nodded. "Okay, no princesses." She bit her bottom lip and Wyatt could see her racking her brain for something Liv might enjoy.
"Once upon a time," Lucy started. "There was a girl just like you," She gently tapped the end of Liv's nose as she continued. "But she was all alone. She had no mommy or daddy. She traveled from home to home and family to family but none of them fit. She never found one that wanted to keep her."
Liv's brow furrowed and her grip tightened around her sippy cup. She looked worried and leaned toward Wyatt. Wyatt lowered the safety rail just as Liv's head came to rest on his shoulder. Her arms went around his neck so fast that she dropped her sippy cup to the floor.
"Oh, it's okay," Lucy said before she placed a soft kiss to Liv's temple. "She found someone to believe in her and because of that someone she grew up to be a police officer. She worked very hard for many years."
Wyatt recognized this story. He recognized the friend he lost in it. He recognized who the little girl he held in his arms could have become. He recognized Liv.
"But she was still alone until one day...she got a new job," Lucy said with a warm smile. "And this new job, gave her a real family for the first time in her life. She found love and acceptance and a home. Just like you."
Liv released Wyatt slowly and then settled back into her bed as the story concluded. Wyatt picked up her discarded sippy cup and held onto it.
"And you know what?" Lucy asked her with an affectionate gaze. "She lived happily ever after."
Liv let her head fall back against her pillow as Wyatt rearranged her blankets around her.
"Time for night night?" Liv asked.
Wyatt nodded and kissed the top of her head. "Time for night night," he confirmed.
He and Lucy started to stand but Liv reached out and grabbed both their hands. "No, daddy and Lucy stay. Don't go."
"Just till you fall asleep," Wyatt promised as he settled back down on the floor.
She refused to let them leave as she was going to bed. She never wanted to watch them walk out of the bedroom door and leave her alone. He couldn't bring himself to deny any of her requests to stay. Watching Jessica walk away from her must have been traumatic for someone so young. He never wanted her to worry about that again. He wanted her to be sure of him and sure of Lucy. If that meant sitting by her bed until she fell asleep then he would sit by her bed every night for the rest of her life.
"Good story, Lucy," Liv said as she tugged on Lucy's hand and pulled her closer. Liv turned Lucy's head with her tiny hands and then placed a smacking kiss to her cheek. "Thank you."
"Any time, little one," Lucy assured her. "Anytime you want."
Lucy's eyes met his and he knew she felt the same way he did. They would both do whatever it took to make sure Liv felt safe and secure in the bunker with them. They would try their best to never let her doubt.
She deserved nothing less.
Wyatt and Liv were up first the next morning, per usual. He took her to the bathroom, helped her brush her teeth, and then off they went to the kitchen to make breakfast. He set her down in the booster seat and tucked her chair in close to the table. He made her breakfast first. Pancakes, no syrup, and bacon torn into small bites with a sippy cup of juice. He sat down next to her with his eggs and bacon and coffee and, at first, he didn't notice anything strange.
He reached for his coffee and noticed movement out of the corner of his eye. A little hand grabbing a sippy cup. The cup lifted to her lips in perfect time with his coffee cup. When he placed his cup down, so did she. He grabbed his fork and began to eat his eggs and she grabbed her child's fork and attempted to stab at bites of pancake. He waited as she clumsily manage to pierce a bit of pancake and then he lifted his bite to his lips. She follow suit. He did each action a few more times just to make sure and then bit back a grin.
She was mimicking him. She ate when he ate, sipped when he sipped. He reached back for the day old paper Christopher left for them, thinking he would read while he ate, but the pout on Liv's face made that impossible.
"Daddy, book, please," she asked.
He laughed lightly and nodded. "Yes, ma'am."
He placed a kiss on the top of her head as he walked behind her. She had a small bookshelf on the other side of the common area, that Lucy had been sure to set up for her. It was filled with age appropriate books and then a few advanced books for someone to read to her. He grabbed the first book he could find that wouldn't be hurt by spilled juice. It was a board book with a bright green dinosaur on the cover. He placed it down next to her plate and then sat back down.
She didn't turn a page until he did. She took a bite of her food when he took a bite of his. Her sippy cup stayed firmly on the table unless he lifted his mug to his lips. Everything he did, she copied. It took everything in him not to spend the entire meal laughing at her.
Wyatt and Lucy were in a meeting with Christopher, discussing next steps for Liv. They all knew there was only so long that they could raise her in the bunker. She would need to be around children her own age to develop properly, she would need sunshine and fresh air, she would need freedom. So, while they began discussing that with Agent Christopher, Rufus agreed to watch Liv. The problem was, he also needed to run diagnostics on the Lifeboat. He set up the large outdoor playpen he made Lucy buy next to where he would need to work. After Liv wandered off during nap time, Rufus was not taking any chances.
He put all of her favorite toys and books and a sippy cup of water inside. He was ready to go. He had it set up next to the Lifeboat where he could check it over for safety and keep an eye on Liv. But what he didn't count on was her refusal to go anywhere near the silo.
Wyatt and Lucy mentioned her having a fear of the Lifeboat, but he assumed they meant being inside of it. No, she was terrified of the sight of it. He was holding her against his chest when he took one step into the silo. The reaction was immediate. She gripped his neck and hid her face before wailing as loud as she could. He felt a growing wet spot on his shirt as her crying continued.
"No, Ruf, no! Don't go!" She sobbed. "I don't like it!"
He teased Wyatt and Lucy for being pushover for the kid, but he had just as much of a weakness for her as they did. He froze after that first step and didn't move any further. He rubbed her back and uttered, what he hoped, were soothing words.
"What?" He asked, once her tears had quieted. "That old thing?" He pointed to the Lifeboat and shrugged. "It can't hurt you."
She gave him a doubtful pout and shook her head adamantly. "No! Don't like it!"
"Because it hurt your tummy?" He asked as he met her big blue eyes.
She nodded with a sulking face and then placed her hands over her ears. "It loud!"
"I'm not gonna turn it on," he said as he dared to take another step. "It won't be loud today."
She slammed her little body into him and wrapped her arms around his neck again in a vice-like grip. "No! Don't wanna." She sniffled against him and he heard a little whimper escape her as she continued. "Please, Ruf?"
He was so tempted to turn around and find something else to do. Her tiny voice laden with tears was too much for his already battered heart. But he knew this couldn't continue. Lucy and Wyatt wouldn't be able to work like this. If she was afraid of the Lifeboat she would scream and cry every time they got called away on a mission. He knew Lucy and Wyatt better than anyone, they would hate leaving if she did that. They loved her more than life itself. She had only been with them a few days but they all knew it. Liv won hearts and minds the instant they saw her.
"Gwen-gwen," he said with a sigh. "I am going to be right here the whole time," he promised. "I won't let anything hurt you."
He turned and pointed out the playpen with her toys on the other side of the Lifeboat and then smiled brightly at her.
"Look, I even made you a place to play. What do you say?"
She gave him a skeptical look but nodded once. Her face returned to his neck and her grip resumed it's strong hold as they crossed the silo and passed in front of the Lifeboat. He arched back to look at her when they reached the playpen and found her eyes shut tightly. He tapped her nose gently and met her reluctant glance with his own.
"Look, we made it," He said with a wink. "You're okay, right?"
"Tummy feeling okay?" He asked.
She smiled slowly and nodded again.
"Any loud noises?"
She shook her head at him.
"Can I put you down now? I'm just going to be right over there," he told her as he gestured over his shoulder. "If you need me you just have to yell, okay?"
"Okay," Liv agreed.
He put her down in the play pen and watched her for a lingering moment to make sure she was going to be alright. Once she was playing with the duplo blocks he left for her, he turned and headed up the Lifeboat stairs. He was just leaning his head in the Lifeboat hatch when he heard Liv yell for him.
"No! Ruf no go! Stay!"
He was down the stairs in a flash at the frantic tone of her voice. When he reached her, he found her cheeks wet and her lips trembling.
"Ruf no go!" She yelled as she cried. "Ruf stay with Liv."
She didn't think-Did she think stepping inside meant he was leaving her behind? He knelt down by the playpen and wiped her tears from her chubby cheeks. He nodded and then kissed her forehead. "Ruf stay with Liv," he repeated. "I'm not going anywhere. It's turned off. I promise. I just have to go inside to-"
"No!" she yelled again. "Stay. No go!"
He sighed sadly and sat down on the floor next to the pen. He tried, but it was clear he wasn't going to get any work done today. "Hey, it's okay," he said softly as he watched her small chest heave with panicked breathing. "I'm not gonna go. Ruf stay."
She knelt down and picked up two blocks and then held them out to him with a quivering pout. "Ruf play?" She asked worriedly.
Jesus, this kid was going to be the death of him. She was looking at him like at any minute he could be ripped away from her. The fear of loss swam in her eyes and knocked Rufus for a loop. He had never seen that in someone so small. It wasn't fair. Jessica leaving her on that doorstep really did a number on her. Since starting this job, he'd lost far too much. He knew what that fear of loss felt like. He would do whatever it took to chase that out of the toddler's eyes. If that meant falling a day behind at work then so be it. His heart was failing under the strain of her pain and his.
He took the blocks she offered him and watched her suddenly brighten. Worry transformed to joy and then she was babbling a mile a minute. Some words he heard loud and clear but others he didn't understand. He didn't need to catch every word, though, the light on her face told him more than enough.
"Okay," he said after taking a moment to collect himself. He smiled wide as he continued. "What are we building today, Gwen-gwen?"
"A train! Choo choo!" she ordered as she handed him the wheel bases. "Ruf can help!"
He chuckled at her and nodded. "I think I can handle that."
What he couldn't handle was a fear stricken Liv who was convinced she might lose her Uncle Ruf. What were they going to do with this kid when they had to jump for the first time? Would any of them be able to make the jump knowing they were leaving her behind?
"You're sure Rufus and Jiya were okay with taking Liv tonight?" Lucy asked as she stared absently at Liv's empty bed.
Wyatt settled in beside her and then pulled her to him until she was pressed against his chest and his cheek rested against her temple. "I'm sure. They offered without me even having to ask. She'll be fine. You know she loves her Uncle Ruf."
"Did he tell you what happened when he was watching her today?" Lucy asked as she settled against him.
"Yeah, he did, but we already knew she hated the Lifeboat," Wyatt answered.
"She doesn't just hate the Lifeboat, Wyatt. She's terrified of it. She's terrified of any one getting in it. What are we going to do about that?"
His hand ambled up her spine, stopping at the top to cradle the back of her neck. "I'm not sure there's anything we can do about it, Luce."
"Eventually, we will have to step inside that machine. What are we going to do then?" She asked as her arms wrapped tightly around him. "Does one of us stay behind?"
His other hand found its way under her shirt. He flattened his hand against the smooth skin of her back and shook his head against the side of her face at her last suggestion. He was so caught up in the feeling of her in his arms that he almost forgot to reply.
"I'm not traveling without you. Do you want to travel without me?"
"No!" she said as she leaned back to look him in the eyes. "I hate traveling without you. But Liv...what if something were to happen to us on a jump?"
"All the more reason to travel together," he told her with a determined gaze. "There's no one better at watching my back than you. If anyone is going to make sure that I come home in one piece, it's Lucy Preston. And, personally, I would rather die a million times over than let anything happen to you. We're the best back up either of us could ever ask for. Where you go, I follow. No matter what."
"For the record," Lucy said as she brought a hand up and skimmed down the length of his face. "Don't you ever die for me, Logan. I will never forgive you if you don't make it home from a jump with me. Okay?"
"Yes, ma'am," He replied with a soft grin. The cool smooth texture of the band on her ring hit his skin and the discussions of the wedding they couldn't plan yet circled through his memories, along with hundreds of other conversations about their potential future after they finally defeat Rittenhouse. Of all the topics they covered there was one they had always avoided, even now that they had Liv. His eyes narrowed on hers thoughtfully.
"What?" She asked with a nervous glance.
He removed his hand from the back of her neck to hold her left hand and run a thumb over the diamond on her finger. "We've made a lot of plans since this happened," he said as he nudged the ring again. "But we've never talked about kids, Luce. Why is that?"
She bit her bottom lip anxiously and looked away from him to stare at her engagement ring. She sighed tiredly and squeezed his hand. "I can't pass on the legacy my mother saddled me with, Wyatt. I can't doom my children to this fight for the rest of their lives." He could hear the tears in her voice as she continued. "Rittenhouse destroys everything it touches. I never wanted to think about children until they were out of the picture. Plus, I was also unsure…" she trailed and closed her red rimmed eyes.
"Unsure about what?" he urged her.
She took a deep breath and then proceeded with a wince, as if she knew what she was going to say would sting. "Unsure about how you felt about children, given how things happened with Jessica."
She was right. It stung. But probably not for the reason she assumed. The way he took Jessica's announcement that she was pregnant would haunt him for the rest of his life. He let that blind him to who Jessica was. He used that as an excuse for being a jackass to Lucy. It drained every bit of sensitivity from his body and turned him into a desperate and angry monster. A monster who didn't deserve the life he had now with the woman who loved him unconditionally and the daughter who was a constant bright spot in otherwise dreary bunker.
Lucy must have sensed his emotional nose dive because her hands came to rest on either side of his face as she pulled his eyes to hers.
"Don't," she told him. "We're not those people anymore, Wyatt. I ask for what I want and you don't lie to yourself anymore. We're here in this moment together. All of that was forgotten a long time ago and I won't let you wallow in it anymore." One hand slipped backward through his hair as she brought her lips to his in a slow and soft kiss. "We worked through it and it doesn't matter. This is exactly why I haven't brought it up. Why didn't you bring it up?"
One kiss wasn't enough comfort for how deep his thoughts had fallen so he stole one more before answering her question. "I didn't know...I didn't know how affected you still were by all the shit that went down with Jessica and I knew Rittenhouse's obsession with bloodlines freaked you out. I was afraid of your answer."
"Afraid?" She asked with a furrowed brow. "Afraid of what answer specifically?"
"I was afraid the answer might be a definitive no," he admitted with a heavy swallow.
"Oh, Wyatt," Lucy said as she leaned her forehead against his and closed her eyes. "You are so good and yet you still think-" she cut her sentence short to place a kiss to one corner of his mouth and then the other. Her lips hovered above his as she spoke again. "Liv is so lucky to have you. Do you know that? You're attentive and playful. You've made transitioning to living here with us as easy as you possibly can for her. You are a wonderful father. There is no one I would rather start a family with than you. It never entered my mind to doubt you. Not once. Any doubts I had were entirely mine. Is that clear?"
With every sentence he felt the sting of tears in his eyes. This woman knew him entirely too well. He would never be able to hide anything from her and he was relieved that she saw him so clearly. He surely didn't deserve the amount of faith she had in him, but he was grateful for it nonetheless. He was distracted by his thoughts and almost missed her use of past tense. His hand caressed her cheek as her words finally registered.
"Any doubts you had?" He asked pointedly.
"Liv has changed things. I can't pretend she hasn't," Lucy admitted. "I never thought that I could-god, Wyatt I love you, I do but that happened gradually. I had time to adjust to those feelings. What I feel for that little girl...I don't care that she's not mine I love her like she is." Her eyes misted over as she pointed a watery smile at him. "And it was instant. The moment I saw her standing on the steps of that home my heart was hers. I didn't know I was capable of that."
"I did," Wyatt assured her with an affectionate smile. "The Liv who was our friend knew that too. She wouldn't have trusted us if she didn't."
"Then you and both Livs have got me thinking," she told him as she hid her face in his shoulder.
She nodded against him, a bashful smile overtaking her face as she did so. "Thinking about babies with dark wild hair and blue eyes to match Liv's." She chuckled at herself and then covered her face with her hands. "That's ridiculous, isn't it?"
Her description caused a hitch in his breathing and a skip in his heart beat. This life of his was turning out to be so much more than he ever hoped it would be. He removed her hands from her face and was careful to meet her apprehensive gaze with his more confident one. "No, it's everything I want." He pressed his lips to the crown of her head before he continued. "And I have a feeling that Liv would love being a big sister."
Lucy curled into him and sighed contentedly with a slow and sleepy smile. "Someday."
"Someday soon I hope."
He felt her nod and then place a featherlight kiss to his neck. "Definitely soon," she promised. "One thing at a time though, Soldier. Let's get Liv settled first, yeah?"
He chuckled at her as her lids drifted closed. He wrapped his arms securely around her before replying. "Good call, Professor. One thing at a time."
They should have been prepared for the day the alarm went off, but they weren't. Liv's hands flew to her ears as her ear piercing wail filled the bunker. Wyatt scooped her up from where she was playing with her blocks and marched her back to their room, motioning for Jiya to follow him. They hadn't discussed how the missions would work. Not in detail and especially not with the rest of the bunker. Denise and Flynn both gave her a scolding look when she announced that she and Wyatt would be going on the jump. Rufus looked as though it was exactly what he expected. He pushed the conversation ahead to the date Emma and Jessica jumped to and what their possible endgame could be. They made a basic plan while Flynn and Denise remained silent.
Wyatt came back without Jiya but with his holster on and his weapon fastened inside it.
"Let's go," he announced as he stalked off toward the Lifeboat.
She could see the storm brewing between Denise and Flynn and Wyatt's flinty gaze. She knew it was coming before Denise opened her mouth.
"You've got to be kidding me," Denise exclaimed with a glare.
"About what?" Wyatt asked.
"You can't both go," Flynn told Wyatt with a roll of his eyes. "That's idiotic."
"Lucy's not going without me and I'm sure as hell not going without her so, yeah, we're both going," Wyatt declared firmly. "Jiya's watching Liv right now, but eventually she'll be needed in the silo to monitor the Lifeboat." Wyatt turned an expectant look on Christopher. "Would you mind keeping an eye on her?"
The look on Denise's face is one Lucy has never seen before. It's a look of appalled disgust. It's more disapproval than Lucy was accustomed to seeing from her and it almost convinced her to change her mind. Until she remembered the alternative was leaving Wyatt and Rufus in the past without her. And that was not happening. Not on her watch.
"Let me just say a quick goodbye," Lucy announced, begging out of the argument that was clearly far from over.
She turned her back just in time for Denise to let Wyatt have it. The words reckless and stupid reverberated through the bunker as Lucy reached their room. Jiya was reading to Liv when Lucy opened the door. Liv hopped out of Jiya's lap at the sight of Lucy and launched herself into her arms.
"Lucy! Read!" Liv asked excitedly as she placed her favorite book in Lucy's hands.
Normally, Lucy never refused a request from Liv, especially to read, but she was pressed for time and Wyatt was going to need her help to get Denise off of his back.
"Not right now, baby," Lucy told her apologetically. "Later, okay? Lucy has to go to work right now."
Liv nodded. "Bedtime story," she conceded as she set the book carefully on her bed. "Later."
Lucy smiled warmly at her and pulled the two year old into her arms. Tears unexpectedly sprang to her eyes. It was hitting her now just how many things could go wrong. She had faith that she and Wyatt would keep each other safe, but there was more at risk than that. They could change anything in the past and the ripple effects had the potential to be lethal. What if they came back to a world where Liv never existed? What if this little girl, currently tucked against Lucy's chest, vanished like her sister? Lucy closed her eyes tightly and pressed her face into Liv's blonde ringlets.
She needed Liv to be there waiting for them when they got back. She would never forgive herself if anything happened to her.
Jiya's gentle hand on her back shook Lucy from her thoughts. "Lucy, you should go."
"Right," Lucy said with a sniffle before she pressed a quick kiss to Liv's cheek. "We'll be back later, okay?"
Liv nodded and waved and placed a kiss of her own on Lucy's cheek. "Bye bye, Lucy."
Lucy rubbed a hand across her lips to keep them from trembling before she replied, "Bye bye, Liv."
It took every ounce of willpower she had to walk out that bedroom door and close it behind her. Her heart now firmly belonged to two people. One of them would be going with her but the other would be here, at the mercy of time and space. Two things that hadn't historically been on her side.
Wyatt stood at the top of the stairs leading to the Lifeboat hatch when she made it back to the silo. Flynn and Rufus were nowhere to be found so Lucy assumed they were already inside. Denise shook her head as Lucy passed and her glare held firm on Wyatt. She didn't know what was discussed after she left the room, but it didn't appear to be good.
Wyatt's hand enclosed around her arm as she tried to pass him and step into the Lifeboat. His teary eyes met hers and his hand slid down her arm to thread his fingers through hers. "You okay?"
She sighed and purposefully avoided his question. "Let's just get this over with. The sooner we leave, the sooner we'll be back."
He nodded and dropped a kiss to the top of her head. "No argument here," he replied. "Took all I had in me to leave her with Jiya and walk away."
"She'll be okay, right?" Lucy asked as she worried her bottom lip.
"She has to be, and if she isn't I'll burn this whole damn timeline to the ground until I get her back," Wyatt sneered.
"Fine by me," she agreed. "I'll bring the matches."
Denise was furious with Lucy and Wyatt. They had more than just themselves to think about now. She understood it would be difficult to work without the other but if anything happened Liv would need at least one of them to look out for her.
While with the DC police Denise had worked with two married police officers. They were killed in the line of duty on the same night and they left two little boys to mourn them. This situation wasn't exactly the same, she knew. The stakes were much higher for this team than for her colleagues with the DC police, but it was damn close enough.
So, on this particular day, her knitting started much earlier than normal.
Jiya found her on the couch with her knitting needles in hand, furiously looping stitch after stitch.
"Are they gone?" Jiya asked cautiously as she clutched Liv against her side.
Denise nodded with pursed critical lips. "Against my better judgement, yes."
"Right," Jiya said awkwardly. "Well, I need to get to my post so can I leave her with you?"
"Sure, I'm mad at her parents not her," Denise said as she nodded to the empty side of the couch.
"O-kay," Jiya answered with raised brows as she set Liv down next to Denise. "Good to know."
"Bye, Ji-Ji," Liv said brightly as Jiya walked away from them.
"Bye, munchkin," Jiya called over her shoulder with a chuckle.
Liv turned her eyes to Denise and tilted her head as she watched her knit.
"What that?" She asked as she pointed to the scarf that was loosely forming between Denise's needles.
"A scarf," Denise answered as she took the small length that had formed and wrapped it around Liv's neck. "See?"
"Agent Topher make?"
Liv's tiny hands clamped down around the unfinished scarf as her eyes met Denise's.
Agent Christopher nodded. "Yes, I'm making it."
It took her longer than it should have to respond simply because she couldn't think of a way a two year old could help. Finally, she decided to let Liv hold her yarn. It wasn't really help she needed but it would make Liv feel like she was helping and that was what mattered. Liv reverently set the ball of yarn in her lap and held it very carefully, as if it might break.
As she knitted she watched Liv. She wondered if Wyatt and Lucy realized just how lucky they were? Denise's own children weren't this well tempered as toddlers. Liv was an exceptionally good child. She hadn't started testing her limits yet, but that was bound to be coming soon. Once Liv became comfortable enough in this space with Lucy and Wyatt, she would start pushing the rules and discovering how far she could take it before she would get in trouble. There was also the hide and seek phase which Liv had demonstrated a little bit of earlier in the week. But right now, she was being happy and helpful.
The mother in Denise worried that her good temperament was a result of something else. Wyatt had mentioned a few things to her that were tell-tale signs of neglect. The worry that toys would be taken away, the gut wrenching fear that people would leave her, the fact that she was quite a bit underweight for her age. She hoped that Jessica was a good mother despite her Rittenhouse connections, for Liv's sake, and the child was mostly happy and healthy so Jessica Logan couldn't have been a horrible parent. But Denise wasn't so sure she was a good parent either. Not being horrible at something did not make you good at it.
Denise finished off her scarf at about half the length she intended and then winked at Liv as she wrapped around the toddler's neck.
"For you," Denise said with a warm smile.
"Pretty," Liv said as she clutched it closer to her. "Thank you, Topher."
"You're welcome." She glanced down at her watch to find that it was just now lunchtime. The team had been gone just over an hour. "Are you hungry?"
Liv nodded eagerly and then climbed down from the couch. Denise was ready to catch her if she fell but Liv managed it. She then chased the toddler into the kitchen as Liv ran toward her booster seat. Lunch with a toddler, as Denise recalled it, was very simple. Deli meats and cheeses and fruit would be sufficient. Liv munched happily, humming a song to herself, as Denise made her own sandwich.
What was she going to do with Liv all day? Wouldn't she eventually notice that Lucy and Wyatt had been gone for longer than normal? She seemed fine now, but there was no telling how long she would remain that way. The only solution was to keep her busy. After lunch they played a variety of things. They built a zoo out of blocks, put together large wooden puzzles, colored and drew. It wasn't until after dinner when Denise put on a movie for Liv that the toddler noticed anyone missing.
"Daddy and Lucy?" She asked as the opening scene of Moana began to play.
"Still working," Denise answered. "They'll be back soon."
All she could do was hope she hadn't just lied to the child. Lucy and Wyatt knew the risks. They knew it was just as important to be in the present as it was to be in the past. They would make it back to Liv in one piece. They had to.
Liv's eyes narrowed at Denise's answer and she let out an exaggerated huff. "Okay."
Denise chuckled at her. Clearly, she didn't like it, but she would accept it. Once the movie ended, the real problem became clear. She tried to usher Liv toward the bedroom to get ready for bed, but Liv refused. She planted her feet firmly and pulled against Denise's arm that held her hand.
"No! I wait!"
She wrenched her hand from Denise's grip and sat cross legged on the floor.
"Lucy read story. I wait," Liv said with a decisive nod and a pout.
Denise sighed tiredly. There was that hard Logan head. She should have seen it coming. These Logans were always waiting on Lucy. It had to be genetic.
"They may not be back until late," Denise said as she sat down across from her. "Lucy may have to read to you tomorrow."
Denise nodded. "Right, okay. What if I read to you?"
"No! Want Lucy!"
"Want Lucy!" She shouted again. "Want daddy!"
This was more like the obstinate two year olds she remembered raising. But this outburst was understandable to Denise. Liv had one parent walk away from her already. Even if she didn't fully understand, it left a scar. Lucy and Wyatt stepped in to love her the way she deserved and Liv wanted that comfort back. Seven hours may seem like nothing to Denise but it was an eternity to a toddler.
As if the Universe heard Liv's request, the sirens suddenly began to wail indicating that the Lifeboat was coming home. Thank God. Denise picked Liv up off of the floor and held her tightly despite her crying and kicking. Little hands covered her ears and she pressed her face into Denise's shoulder. As Denise neared the main silo, Liv's crying increased in volume and nearly overpowered the sirens.
"No! Don't like it!"
"You will," Denise promised against the shell of Liv's ear. "You'll like this."
"Too loud! Don't like it!"
Denise stood beside of Jiya, looking out over the silo while tears streamed down Liv's face. Her chest was heaving and her fists had curled into her blouse. Denise rubbed her back and murmured comforting words, but it wasn't until the sirens cut off and the familiar woosh of the Lifeboat filled the air that Liv stopped crying. Denise angled her so that Liv could see the giant orb-like machine and pointed to the hatch.
"Watch there," Denise told her. "You'll like it. Promise."
Mason slid the stairs into place just as the hatch opened. Rufus stepped out first and Liv clapped excitedly before wiping her wet cheeks on her sleeves. She pointed to Rufus and then turned to find Jiya.
"Ji-Ji, look! Ruf!"
Jiya laughed and nodded. "I see."
Rufus descended the stairs followed by Flynn. Flynn nodded at Liv's wild wave and then hurried off to his room while Rufus approached and held out a fist toward Liv.
"Pound it, Gwen-Gwen," he requested.
Rufus looked tired and covered in grime. There were rips and snags in his period clothes, but his smile was bright as it fell on the toddler. She met his larger fist with her tiny one and giggled. Once that was done Rufus made his way to Jiya and pulled her close.
"You stink," Jiya told him as she scrunched up her nose in disgust.
"You try running around a colonial farm in a time before deodorant and see what you come home smelling like," Rufus challenged as he continued to embrace her.
Wyatt appeared at the top of the stairs next and Liv nearly jumped from Denise's arms. She gasped and wiggled and fought against the hold Agent Christopher had on her.
"Daddy!" she yelled when it was clear she wasn't getting down.
Wyatt's eyes found Liv's as he helped Lucy out of the Lifeboat and the relief Denise saw in them was palpable. He and Lucy exchanged a look and Agent Christopher could hear the silent conversation happening between them. Nothing vital had changed. No further losses had occured. Both Wyatt and Lucy sprinted the short distance between the time machine and Liv. Wyatt wasted no time taking Liv from Denise and pressing a kiss to the little girl's forehead.
"So glad to see you, babygirl," Wyatt muttered against her skin.
Liv wrapped her arms around Wyatt as tightly as she could and laid her head against his shoulder. She looked absolutely content to stay right there, despite the stench of colonial times that Denise could smell from where she stood.
"How was she?" Lucy asked as she looked from Liv to Denise.
"She was great until right at the end. Let's just say, she missed her Lucy and her dad and I am glad you two are back in time to put her to bed. There is no way she would have let me even try it," Denise said honestly.
"Lucy, story! 'Member?" Liv said as she reached for her.
Lucy let out a watery laugh and nodded as Wyatt passed Liv to her. "I remember. But first I think we all need to wash up."
Liv nodded and then pinched her face at Lucy. "Daddy and Lucy smell bad."
"Gee thanks, kid," Wyatt said with a chuckle. "Love you too."
Today marked one week since they went to the past to find Liv. One week since he first saw her on those steps, alone and scared. One week since he'd lost his friend but found a daughter. Rufus was running diagnostics on the Lifeboat, Lucy was researching the ramifications of their last jump, and Wyatt was watching Liv.
It hadn't been easy to adjust to life with a toddler, but it hadn't been as difficult as he thought it would be either. She fit. She fit in the bunker with all of them. It was almost as if she had always been there. Denise brought Liv a play kitchen, a hand me down toy that had once belonged to her daughter, and Liv was loving it.
So far, she brought Wyatt nearly all the plastic food the kitchen came with on various plates. He had them all sitting out on the coffee table next to him. She would hand him a plastic apple on a plate, he'd pretend to take a big bite, and she would laugh like it was the funniest thing she'd ever seen. It melted his heart every time.
"What are you making over there, babygirl?" He asked as he crawled across the floor to her.
"Pancakes. I cook. Like daddy," she told him with a beaming smile. She had a toy spatula in one hand and a plastic skillet on the pretend stove.
"Looks good," he said as he sat behind her and lightly placed his chin on her shoulder.
He gently poked her side. She giggled and stepped away from his hand. "Daddy, no! No tickle!"
"Did you say tickle?" He asked with a grin.
His hands skimmed her sides as her merry laugh filled the bunker. Her tiny body folded against his chest as she shook her head at him.
"No, daddy! No tickle!"
He wrapped his arms around her and lifted her with him as he stood, throwing her over his shoulder with one firm arm, and then using his free hand to tickle her socked feet. She kicked and laughed wildly as she clutched the back of his shirt.
All movement stopped at the sound of Rufus' voice. Wyatt held Liv solidly as he made his way to the main silo and the computers where Rufus and Jiya were currently working. Liv giggled as she bounced and, despite the panic that filled him at Rufus' call, he felt the corners of his lips twitch upward.
"What?" He asked as Rufus came into view. "What happened?"
Rufus held up a flashdrive and then glanced from Wyatt to Lucy with a smirk. "Liv left us a present."
"So, Little Liv, here comes the sun. Enjoy it. Enjoy them. Because they are the best family you could ever ask for."
Lucy could hardly see the video through her tears. The little version of Liv in her arms seemed to sense this and wrapped her small body around Lucy as tightly as she could.
"Lucy, sad?" Liv asked in concern.
Lucy kissed the top of Liv's head before she nodded. "Yes, little one. Lucy sad."
Liv's body went slack against Lucy's as she cuddled herself against Lucy's chest. "S'okay," Liv told her softly. She lifted up for a moment and kissed Lucy's jaw. "I hold you."
All that did was make Lucy cry harder. How the hell did she get this lucky? She lived through years of pain and heartbreak and loss. So, how did her life come to this? Her track record over the last few years was tragically awful. Was the Universe or God or whatever power-that-be finally giving her something instead of taking it? She'd been given a family, granted it wasn't the one she was born to, a man that loved her, and a little girl who was currently holding her through her tears. It was too good to be true.
Too beautiful to be real.
Suddenly, Wyatt was there too. He pulled both Lucy and Liv against him and pressed his lips to the top of Lucy's head.
Yes, they missed their friend. They never wanted to lose her. Just like Lucy never wanted to lose her sister or her mother. But somehow, the precious little girl in her arms made all the losses worth it. It was truly remarkable.
Jiya was supposed to be watching Liv while the others were on a mission. Mason was manning the monitors and it was Jiya's turn. So it probably wasn't good that she couldn't find her right? That was most likely bad. Liv had been seeking out hiding spots lately and jumping out at them at random times. She thought it was funny to watch them look for her and then reveal herself when their panic was at it's peak.
It wasn't and Lucy and Wyatt had told her so.
She still did it anyway.
Like a typical Logan.
Jiya had searched all over the bunker but she had neglected Lucy and Wyatt's room. Usually that was the last place Liv would hide, but Jiya had searched everywhere else. She carefully slid the door open and brought a shocked hand to her mouth at the sight that greeted her. Oh no.
"You little rascal," Jiya said as she bit back a laugh.
Liv turned to look at her with a huge red painted smile. "Ji-Ji, I Lucy!"
This time Jiya did laugh as she took in the red lipstick that somehow covered Liv from the tip of her nose to the curved edge of her chin, the powdered blush that was bright red against Liv's baby soft cherub cheeks, and the dark brown eye shadow that saturated Liv's lids from her brow to underneath her long bottom lashes.
"Munchkin, what have you done?" Jiya asked her with a chuckle.
"Play!" Liv said as she held out the mutilated lipstick tube.
Jiya shook her head and took the lipstick from Liv's hand. "Nope. Not for play. I've got to clean you up before your parents get home. They will kill me."
Liv pointed to her face and grinned, lipstick saturating her teeth. "I pretty?"
Jiya nodded as she picked Liv up off the floor. "Very pretty. The prettiest."
"Like Ji-Ji and Lucy?" Liv asked as she placed her make up covered hands on Jiya's cheeks.
Jiya could feel the mix of creamy lipstick and dry powdery eyeshadow as it stained her cheeks but smiled anyway at the toddler's compliment. "Yes, like Ji-Ji and Lucy."
"Yay!" She exclaimed as she clapped her messy hands.
Eyeshadow dust billowed comically through the air as Jiya carried her out of the room. "You're lucky you're so cute, you little monster."
"Yep!" Liv agreed.
Jiya laughed loudly and shook her head. "Oh good, and you know it. Wyatt and Lucy are in for it when you hit your teenage years. I wish them luck."
iv. if you should ever leave me
Jiya was giving Liv a bath when the Lifeboat touched down that night and Lucy was eternally grateful for that. The last thing she would ever want was for Liv to see any of them wounded and bloody. Wyatt was near frantic as he carried her to their improvised infirmary. Rufus walked with them, with his hands pressed against her shoulder as warm red liquid blossomed over the bodice of her dress.
One weak question to Christopher as she passed told her where Liv was and somehow that felt like permission for her eyelids to droop and close.
"Hey, Lucy, no," Wyatt said sternly. "Stay with me, okay? Christopher's getting a medic. Just a little bit longer."
But try as she might, keeping her eyes open was no longer an option. Her shoulder felt like it was on fire and her entire body felt weak. She had no strength left to stay awake. She heard Wyatt call her name one last time as the world went black around her. The next time she woke, even the soft yellow light of the bunker felt too bright so her eyes remained shut. But she could hear Wyatt talking to the medic.
Nothing vital was hit. She was lucky to have lost such little blood. She would be fine with antibiotics, painkillers, and some rest. She drifted back to sleep as she felt Wyatt's lips brush her forehead with a grateful kiss.
Her eyes were able to finally open the next time consciousness washed over her. Wyatt was asleep in a chair next to infirmary cot. He looked horribly uncomfortable. She smiled softly at him and then frowned as another sound hit her ears.
High pitched but soft crying and whispered comforting assurances.
They were coming from outside the door.
Lucy carefully placed her feet on the floor and stood very slowly. She took a deep breath as her equilibrium adjusted and then padded around Wyatt as silently as possible. She used her good arm to open the door and found Rufus pacing with a sobbing Liv in the hallway.
Rufus looked startled at her appearance but his expression quickly gave way to a smile.
"You're awake," he stated with clear relief.
"How long was I out?" Lucy asked with a furrowed brow.
"Just a day," He answered. "The doctors were afraid you might be out for much longer than that."
At the sound of her voice Liv's head lifted from Rufus' shoulder and she rubbed her tear stained cheeks with her small hands. She blinked at Lucy for a moment and then began to cry again, with both arms outstretched toward her.
Both Rufus and Lucy glanced down at her wounded arm before giving Liv a guilt ridden looks.
"I can't, baby," Lucy said in a voice that sounded raw and hoarse. She desperately wanted to take her from Rufus, but there was no way she could hold her. Not while she felt as though she might pass out and had one bad arm.
Liv only cried harder and reached further in response.
"She's been worried about you," Rufus admitted. "She didn't really know what was happening but she knew she hadn't seen you in a while."
Lucy's heart was actively breaking. One mother had already disappeared on her. Of course, she worried about Lucy going missing too. Lucy wavered on her feet and Rufus reached out an instinctive arm to steady her.
"You should go back to bed," Rufus said worriedly.
"I'm fine," Lucy replied. She wasn't. Not completely. They both knew it.
"Lucy," Rufus said with a dry chuckle. "You're a terrible liar."
Her eyes landed on Liv's reaching arms and devastated face before she replied to him again. "I can't go back in there without her."
"You're supposed to be taking it easy," Rufus warned.
"Look at her, Rufus," Lucy said as she pointed at Liv. "You either bring her in here where I can hold her with one arm or you let me stay out here with you. Those are the options. Pick one."
He sighed and nodded. He knew there was no changing Lucy's mind when she was determined to do something. "Fine, but if Wyatt asks you threatened my life."
She chuckled at him. "Deal."
Rufus followed her into the room as Liv's crying eased into sniffles. Knowing that Lucy wasn't going to disappear without her again seemed to soothe her. She kept her watery eyes focused on Lucy as she settled back into her bed.
Rufus pressed a finger to his lips and turned Liv so she could see Wyatt sitting in the chair beside the bed.
"Daddy sleeping?" She asked in a loud whisper.
Lucy nodded at her and then motioned to Rufus with her uninjured arm. "Can you set her down here next to me?"
Rufus did as she asked and then adjusted the pillows behind Lucy without her even having to ask. It was more comfortable to sit up with Liv tucked into her side than it would have been to lay down. Once that was done, Rufus took the extra chair in the corner of the room.
Lucy wrapped her uninjured arm around Liv's waist to keep her away from the edge of the bed and then smiled down at her.
"I'm okay, little one. See?"
Liv looked doubtful and reached a soft touch over to Lucy's gauze covered shoulder. "Lucy, ouchie?"
She nodded and pressed a kiss to Liv's head. "Big ouchie."
"Big bandaid," Rufus added with a light laugh.
"Silly Ruf," Liv said with a shake of her head. She turned to Lucy with a serious face. "Ruf silly, Lucy."
The ache in her arm dulled as a laugh bubbled it's way up her throat. "Very silly."
Liv tucked herself into Lucy's side and then met her eyes with a look so full of worry that it threatened to break Lucy in two.
"Lucy stay?" Liv asked. "Lucy not go?"
"Lucy stay," she answered as she pressed her cheek against Liv's hair. "Lucy will never go. Okay? Never."
Liv looked happy with that answer and relaxed. She leaned back and burrowed her face in Lucy's neck. Her eyes drifted closed and her breathing deepened. It seemed now that she knew Lucy was okay and wasn't planning to leave her anytime soon, she was willing to rest. Would there ever come a day where Liv didn't worry they would leave her? She hoped so. Liv was still a baby and far too young to live with that fear for the rest of her life.
"Man, does that kid ever love you," Rufus said observantly as he watched the toddler sleep. "I tried for hours to get her to go to sleep. One brief moment with you and it happens just like that."
"I have that effect on people," Lucy deadpanned. "I'm a professor, after all. Boring lectures are my specialty."
Rufus chuckled at her and rolled his eyes. "Yeah, that's what it is. When are you gonna realize just how great you actually are?"
"If I'm great," Lucy told him as she stifled a yawn. "It's only because I'm surrounded by others who make me great."
"You deflect compliments like Wonder Woman deflects bullets," Rufus told her with a teasing grin.
"Yeah, well, everybody has to have a thing they're good at, right? I guess that's mine."
"Oh, please, please, tell me that's not the only thing you think you're good at," he said with a shake of his head. "You're Sarah freaking Connor, Lucy. A badass and a superhero and a force to be reckoned with. You've even got the bullet wound to prove it."
She felt sleep overtaking her again as she replied. "I'm sure that would be compliment I could deflect if I understood it. But I have no idea who Sarah Connor is so I'll have to let that one slide."
Rufus' bright laughter surrounded her as her eyes closed and exhaustion took over. Her love for her makeshift family acted as a soothing balm over the pain in her wound. She had Liv next to her, and Wyatt and Rufus on either side. With the three of them in her life, recovery would be easy.
It was nearly a week later, and Lucy was healing as expected. Wyatt still wasn't over the image of Jessica's gun firing in Lucy's direction. He could feel the terror of seeing her knees buckle as she slumped to the ground like it was yesterday. Luckily, he'd gotten a shot off on Jessica that would leave her recovering at least as long as Lucy. For the first time, Jessica seemed to clearly target Lucy. He couldn't explain it and he doubted it was a rational thought, but it seemed to him like Jessica was determined Liv would never have a mother.
It was ridiculous because Jessica didn't even know he had Liv, but there it was. It lingered in his mind all week. Lucy was Liv's mother. They all knew it, though no one had used the label out loud. It was a sickening sort of kismet to think that Jessica had unknowingly targeted the adoptive mother of the child she gave up.
But none of that mattered. What mattered was that Lucy was alive and well and there with him. With them. He needed to count Liv in that role call now. After a few hours of seeing him, but no Lucy, Liv had been inconsolable. It was unfortunately a natural assumption for her that Lucy was gone for good. One mother already left so who's to say a second wouldn't do the same? No, after that reaction, it was clear that Liv needed Lucy just as much as Wyatt did. So, what mattered was that Lucy came home to them.
They were back to their normal routine. Wyatt woke up first, followed by Liv. These days there was a fifty-fifty chance that Liv would opt to be moved to the bed with Lucy. Since seeing her hurt, Liv had been glued to Lucy's side. Today, Liv reached for him as she set up in her bed and didn't let him go.
"I help cook," she whispered, or tried to. She didn't really know how.
He nodded and carried her out of the room toward the kitchen. He let her dump a few ingredients into the bowl while he stirred the pancake batter and then put her in her booster seat and tucked her close to the table. Once the pancakes and bacon were done Liv reached for him again. His brow furrowed at her as he moved the chair and unfastened her from the seat.
"What's up, babygirl?"
She glanced back down the hall toward the bedroom and he knew exactly what she wanted.
He chuckled and lifted her, holding her against his side. "You want Lucy to eat with us?"
He usually made Lucy her own breakfast once she woke up, but it seemed Liv was no longer happy with that arrangement. He walked them back toward the bedroom and set Liv down on the floor once the door was closed behind him. She walked over to the bed and struggled to climb on top of it. He smirked and gave her a small boost with a gentle hand lifting her bottom. Once she was on the bed she crawled until she was lying on her side face to face with Lucy.
"Breakfast," she said loudly.
Lucy started slightly but her face softened when she opened her eyes and found Liv less than an inch away from her. "Well, good morning to you too," Lucy said with a bleary laugh.
Both he and Lucy sucked in a breath in perfect unison. Lucy was instantly awake. Her eyes flew to his with a silent question. Did he put Liv up to it? Wyatt's eyes widened and he shook his head, holding his hands up in surrender. No, he didn't. That was all Liv. With that question answered Lucy's eyes began to water and a joyful smile fluttered slowly across her face. She brought a hand up and pressed it to her lips and she swallowed back tears.
"Morning, baby," Lucy said in a voice thick with emotions as her hand moved from her lips to skim across Liv's cheek.
"Up, Mama. Breakfast!" Liv declared. Lucy ignored Liv's request and pulled her into her chest instead. Liv giggled as Lucy's hands tickled her sides. "No, play, Mama! Eat!"
Lucy laughed brightly and shook her head. "Nope. Mama wants to play first then eat."
Liv was trapped against Lucy but beaming and laughing loudly as she tried to escape. "Daddy, help!"
"Oh no, no way. I've got you now and I plan on keeping you," Lucy told her as she pressed her lips against Liv's head and let a few joyful tears fall down her cheeks.
Wyatt felt his throat tighten at the sight of a teary Lucy embracing Liv and peppering her with little kisses. She kissed all over Liv's face and hair and neck while Liv cackled wildly. It wasn't so difficult anymore, he thought, to accept the happiness life had granted him. He could be perfectly happy for the rest of his life just watching them. If they were happy so was he. It didn't terrify him to let other people define his world, not anymore. This bunker - this family - defined him. His girls defined him. Acknowledging the firm hold these two women had on him brought an overwhelming sense of peace to his guilt-weary heart.
It was time to let himself enjoy his life. It was time to stop living in the shadow of war and let in the light. He would win this war for them and because of them. Rittenhouse would be defeated. Where there was once doubt now there was none because he realized…
Rittenhouse didn't have what he had. They would never know what he felt. They were fighting for a clinical victory and he was fighting for a human one. He had more reason to fight than they ever would.
He had a family. A god honest unconditional family. There was no telling where he would be without them and he refused to find out.
I may not always love you
But long as there are stars above you
You never need to doubt it
I'll make you so sure about it
God only knows what I'd be without you
-"God Only Knows", The Beach Boys