A/N: Extra thanks to my beta Astraperaspera on this one as it was something she said during a conversation between us that inspired me to write this ficlet (at 3 am - but that's entirely the fault of my Evil Plot Bunnies)
Sometimes she wondered.
What would it have been like to have been born toward the end of the 1880s? To have learned to lace up ankle boots instead of combat boots; to have worn satin and lace instead of leather? Or to live in a house with not just one reclusive butler but an entire domestic staff and to look outside at the dust and dirt of London rather than - well - the dust and dirt of Old City?
Would she have woken up then, and, instead of the television or Mom's 'recommended reading,' been greeted at breakfast by an entire table filled with people who loved her? Maybe not only mother and father, but possibly even brothers and sisters to follow, who might laugh and talk together in a way she could hardly imagine in the silence of her own solitude? And maybe Mom's lab - or study, or whatever they called it back then - would be a place of light and warmth instead of the excuse for isolated retreat it so often seemed to be.
She could hardly imagine the possibilities. They seemed too infinite and unimaginable from where she stood at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Yet they had once been as real and within reach as the objects which surrounded her every day.
Except for one thing. One small little insignificant thing. Only, really, it had never been insignificant, and she was certain even at the time it hadn't appeared so. Their decision couldn't have been easy, even though the ramifications were unknown. If she could go back in time to one moment - if she were given one split second of time to change - that would be it. To change it all and save the future. Well, at least her future. And that of at least seven other women, too.
But now they wanted to go and retrieve it. She knew - knew deep in the center of her Self where reason gave way to indefinable instinct - that this was a bad idea. A Very Bad Idea. Possibly the worst since.. Well.. Since the last time they'd decided to use it.
The Source was Evil. That was why her grandfather had hidden it. Like her, he must have understood that. Had seen its effects and known. Nothing good could come of it's use. Not ever. Which was why she was certain there had to be another solution. Only they were too enraptured - too enthralled with the very idea of obtaining it - to even begin to look for any other option.
That scared Ashley more than anything ever had. And that was saying a lot.