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Accidentally Traveling Abroad (or A Broad Accidentally Traveling)

Chapter Text

Tilda and Cal, two peas in a pod, snuggled up together on the couch with hot chocolate, popcorn, and fluffy blankets as the rain beat against his apartment walls. The only light came from the TV as they watched the end of “Amélie” on Netflix. They were going to have movie night at her place, but her stupid brother had his girlfriend over and…well last time she was there it got pretty noisy.

Credits rolled, leaving them in relative darkness.

“Move your legs, you’re built like a freaking Harley Davidson,” Cal groaned, shifting.

“I’m sorry I work out?”

“You should cosplay as Chun-Li with thighs like those.”

“You’re an ass,” Tilda laughed, “or are you jealous? Could always play softball with me.”

“Ew, girl sport.”

“You’d fit right in!” she pegged him in the temple with popcorn.

Cal glared at her and sipped the last of his hot chocolate patiently. Tilda smirked at him over the lip of her mug.

“So,” Cal set his drink on the side table, “any news from your brother?”

“Nope, hasn’t texted me yet,” Tilda tapped her phone just to double check, “they’re still going at it, I’m sure.”

Cal shuddered, “nasty.”

“We can’t all be prudes,” Tilda teased.

“Just us,” he wiggled his eyebrows and rubbed her calves, “unless…”

Tilda glared, “what happened to me being built like a Harley? Aren’t you more of a sedan guy?”

Feigning offense, he threw his hand to his chest, “are you mocking my taste in women?”

“No,” her voice echoed in her empty mug, “but if you keep making hot chocolate like you do, you’ll turn everyone into a marshmallow, and we all know how much you’d like that.”

“Mmm, sounds kind of sexual.”

“Who’s being nasty now?” Tilda threw a handful of popcorn at him and threw the blankets off her legs, “mind if I put on the kettle? I’m feeling some tea after all this sugar and salt.”

“Go for it,” he chuckled and gathered up the blankets.

Tilda clicked the kitchen light on, blinked a few times, and went to the stove. Cal’s family hailed from England, his mom always made sure there was tea in his cupboard, it was really cute actually. She filled the little yellow teapot, counting in her head how long she kept it under the fridge door’s water.

She smiled at the old Polaroid pictures on his fridge. A picture of him in his Eagle scout uniform. A picture of her earning her Gold Award. Matching karate gis, her front teeth were missing in that one, as they earned their yellow belts. Middle school band pictures, he thought he looked so cool with his tuba, but the bass clarinet is where it’s at. Days of her winning music competitions with her violin or bass clarinet, his Drum Corps picture with a massive sousaphone strapped to his back. Prom pictures, oh man her braces, his glasses. Crossing the finish line at last year’s Tough Mudder with their team. Her most recent college softball team picture. All great pictures and all with the date written on them.

She pulled the pot from the spout and put it on the stove. They agreed, he’d get the event pictures, she’d get the spontaneous ones, but they had to have the same amount. Naturally, she kept a tally.

Tilda pulled her chestnut brown hair into a pony and took out the jar of black tea leaves. She took a deep smell with a smile and fetched the infusers. She had the camping pictures, silly carnival photo booth strips, the really bad dance moves at prom, the day she got glasses too. It didn’t bother her so much that he had the ‘important’ pictures, she had the ones with the big smiles. A smile crept onto her face as she thought of them, knowing, one day, he’d have her wedding pictures up, and she’d have the one with his face covered in wedding cake. He’d have the birth announcements and she’d have the red potato baby pictures.

A creak and hollow thunk grabbed her attention, her head snapped up to the living room, a streak of yellow light bathing the couch.

“Cal?” only the sound of rain replied to her call.

“Cal?” she repeated, “did you drop your mug?”

Nothing. Her heart thumped urgently. She had to move.

“Calvin?” Tilda put the lid back on the tea jar and went to the living room. The TV was off and the door to the apartment hall was open. His mug sat on it’s side on the floor. She picked it up and went to the door.

She looked up and down the empty hall, brows drawn up in confusion. Her bones screamed for her to leave. Now. But her mind argued. No. Not without Cal.

Tilda stepped back from the door, the hairs on the back of her neck raising as she looked past the open door into the dark corner behind the couch. Someone was there. The black silhouette swiftly reached for her.

Tilda jolted and ran to the kitchen. Thick footsteps kept on her heels. She got onto the tile. Her head snapped back, a hand entangled in her ponytail.

“Let go!” she shrilled and grasped at the counter.

In the light of the kitchen she could see his black hoodie and jeans, but any distinguishing features were hidden by a skull biker mask. He was huge. He tugged and her hands slipped from the counter. He pulled her by the hair into the living room, toward the door.

Tilda turned and dug her heels into the carpet. The skin on her neck pulled up, threatening to tear. I don’t need hair! She grit her teeth through the pain and grabbed the couch arm.

Something rushed down the hall at them. Tilda turned her head in time to see a blur of a human being launch through the air at her attacker. Calvin? The man released her hair, sending her backwards. His cry was cut short with a wet gurgle, blood spurt through the air, spattering against the wall and TV.

Tilda pushed her hair out of her face, mouth trembling. Cal rose over the man’s body, a blade in his hand. It retracted into his sleeve with a metallic shift.

“Cal?” she croaked.

“We need to go,” his voice dropped and he grabbed her arm, “now.”

“Don’t need to tell me twice,” Tilda accepted his help up and reached for her phone on the coffee table, “I’ll call the police-”

Calvin’s heel came down her her phone, nearly breaking it in half.

What the hell, Calvin?” Tilda threw her hands up.

“The only person you can trust right now, is me.”

She paused, her mouth agape. His brown eyes were the coldest she’d ever seen them.

“Come on,” he wrapped his hand around her upper arm and dragged her out of his apartment down the hall to the stairwell. She glanced at the dead man in the living room as they passed him, he wore some kind of bracer or gauntlet on his arm. Tilda stumbled after Cal as he ran up the stairs. Shouts followed them from below. Tilda looked down and made eye contact with two more men in hoods, the same things on their arms.

“Cal?”

“Come here!” he yanked her close, swept his arm under her legs, and ran two steps at a time up to the roof.

He kicked the door open. The door frame splintered apart easily under his foot. Cal ran to the rooftop shed and locked the door behind them once inside.

“Who are those people? What do they want?” Tilda whispered breathlessly.

Calvin turned on the shed light, revealing some huge machine in the middle of the room, taking up all the space, “this, and me.”

It had a seat, gear shifts you’d find on an early model car, and looked old as dirt.

“Why?” She looked at him.

Calvin climbed up onto the seat and hoisted her up, “long story. Short version of it isn’t great either. I’m an assassin and this is a Time Machine. Like H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine.” he turned it on.

“A what?!

“I told you it wasn’t great.”

The whole thing vibrated as it roared to life. Tilda clutched his arm, ignoring the gold handlebar in front of her. His fingers flew over what looked like an old typewriter or calculator. A glint off his arm caught her attention. Was he wearing a gauntlet too?

“I have so many questions-” her thought was cut short with violent pounding at the shed door.

Calvin looked up, growling in frustration, “come on you stupid thing, work for once!”

The door slammed open. Two thugs ran to either side of the machine.

“Fuck off!” Tilda kicked at the thug grabbing her arm. Calvin reached over, a thin blade extending from his gauntlet, and stabbed the man in the throat. He was wrenched from his seat by the other thug. Tilda reached out for him-

Bright yellow light blinded her. Thunder cracked in her ears. Her skin burned and tingled all over. Everything flew by her in a rush of orange and green light. She was vaguely aware of her fingers curling around the little gold handlebar before her. Her skin tugged at her bones as she soared.

Then, everything went dark like she was in the middle of a thundercloud, complete with jolts of static electricity arching over her arms and chest. The air churned with thick black smoke and rumbled around her. Tilda’s body lifted from the seat like when you go over a hump on a roller coaster. She shrieked and pulled on the handle as hard as she could, fighting forces that pulled her in all directions. Her shouts and curses were muted, like the treble in her voice was turned off. Beads of icy sweat floated from her skin. The edges of her vision sparked.

The machine punched headlong out of the darkness and into the light. Wind rushed past her, filling her ears with a deafening whistle. Tears streaked her face, pushed from her eyes by sheer force. She barely made out the shiny surface before she hit it. A wall of dirty water crashed around her, throwing her glasses from her face and punching her in the gut.

Then, she was floating. Tilda kicked towards the light above her as hard as she could, eyes stinging from the brown water. Her bones felt like they were on fire, but her skin was freezing.

She broke the water with a desperate gasp. Boats were all around her, sailing past on their own business, but the sailors all stared. She saw them, but she couldn’t hear them. Everything was garbled, far away, all bass.

She swam as fast as she knew how, somehow- somehow- evading the boats. Tilda gripped the edge of the dock and pulled herself up, her joints creaking more like that of a Barbie doll than a human. She collapsed on the dock, water pooling around her and chest heaving. Everything hurt. Her fingertips and toes were numb, her forearms and calves tingled painfully, everything else was so cold, she was sure she’d shatter if she moved. Her were heavy and burning, locking her in place on the ground.
 

What the actual fuck just happened? She opened her eyes slowly, not realizing they were closed, and looked up at the sky. There was no trace of whatever cloud she just went through, only somewhat smoky blue skies.

Tilda stayed there a few minutes, letting her hearing return and her skin warm in the afternoon sunlight. Her ears rang and the burn in her bones ebbed away. She took a deep breath and propped herself on her elbows to look around. Women in long dresses and men in grubby trousers stared at her, murmuring to each other with hands covering their mouths. A horse drawn carriage passed by on the street above. Small children in what could only be described as street urchin rags watched her curiously.

Did I hit my head? Why is everyone dressed like that?

With aching joints, Tilda got to her feet, her tank top and sweatpants sticking to her body. She never felt the need to wear a bra around Calvin, and she regretted it. Tilda crossed her arms over her chest and ducked past the onlookers. She climbed the stairs leading up to the street, her bare feet slapping wetly against the stones. She stopped on the upper street and looked around. Brick buildings loomed overhead with shimmering windows and puffs of smoke escaping their chimneys.

The people on the street stopped to look at her, gasping and whispering behind fans. Tilda’s face went so red it was nearly purple.

“It’s rude to stare,” she spat and escaped down an alleyway across the street. She could feel eyes on her as she walked by men drowning themselves in liquor.

Everyone she passed dressed like that. Everyone stared in shock. Everyone was so…Victorian. Tilda passed under an unattended laundry line and ripped down the first thing she saw, a pair of patched trousers. Using the hanging bedsheets as a dressing room, she discarded her wet sweatpants and pulled on the air stiffened pants.

“Well, well, lookit what we have here, boys and girls,” a nasally growl called out, “caught a little wet bird stealin’ some clothes!”

Tilda’s stomach filled with dread. Where was her softball bat when she needed it?

“Yes,” a woman’s voice hissed, “who does she think she is?”

“Piss off!” Tilda pulled the bed sheets down so she could see them.

A tall bald man snarled down at her, the sash around his waist was an unsightly red. The woman cackled like a witch, her jacket the same color. Two men in red jackets stood by the entrance to the alley, grinning.

“We caught her naked!” the woman screeched. Tilda flushed and clenched her fists.

“You must be a fucking idiot,” she growled at them, her eye landing on a broom leaning against the wall, “why don’t you scatter before I do something about it?”

“Are you threatening us?” the man looked at his partner, “is she threatening us?”

“She is, I think she is,” a twisted smile broke on her face.

Tilda grabbed the broom, adrenaline pumping through her veins, “come do something about it, asshole. I’m not in the fucking mood,” her voice shook. She prayed she could remember something, anything from her short time taking Karate with Calvin. But she was nine back then, and not in any actual danger.

With a wild grunt, the man lunged at her. Tilda thrust the handle into his stomach as hard as she could. He doubled over in pain, giving her the chance to cracked it over his head. He slumped to the ground, groaning. The other men rushed at her, getting a face full of broom bristles each. She whacked the broom handle between their legs as they covered their stinging eyes. They joined their friend on the ground, gagging in pain.

A telltale click beside her ear forced her to stop. All moans of pain faded away as she felt the unnervingly warm barrel against her temple. Her hands trembled and she dropped the broom. She looked out of the corner of her eye, tears distorting her vision. The woman cackled, her face twisting and splitting with a disturbed grin, blood lust filled her eyes.

There was a loud crack and blood. Tilda slammed her eyes shut.

But nothing happened. No white light. No angels or Heavenly singing.

Tilda slowly reopened her eyes. The men laid writhing at her feet and the woman’s head was cracked open on the cobblestones. Bright red blood seeped into the cracks between the cobble stones, bits of brain matter floating along with it.

Tilda tore her eyes away from the scene and shook her head, “thank you-” she looked up to thank her rescuer, but was met with empty walls. She darted to the entrance, but saw nothing. Everybody had cleared out. She chewed her bottom lip and turned back to the scene, mulling over her options, which weren’t many. Tilda sighed a little bit and approached them.

“I’d be sorry, but you shouldn’t gang up on people, moron,” she said as she pick pocketed each of them. She made it out with some money, ammunition, a knife, and the woman’s gun. Tilda flipped over the woman’s body and quickly stripped her of her jacket and shoes.

“What the hell is wrong with you people?” she whispered, “all the same color? Some kind of sick club?”

Or a gang. She grit her teeth at the thought and slipped the jacket on. It was a little tight in the shoulders, but whatever. She pulled the boots on with a relieved sigh. The woman’s hat was a little too bloody for her, so she lifted one of the men’s hats, a dusty newsboy cap.

“If you have lice, I swear…” she beat the hat against the wall a few times, like that would help, and tucked her wet ponytail up into it.

Tilda popped her collar and skulked deeper into the alley. What the hell is going on? Calvin is an assassin? Calvin who begged me to help him with bullies? Eagle scout Calvin? That was a…a time machine. That’s not possible. I’m not even in denial. That’s not possible. Even Stephen Hawking says we can only travel forwards in time, he held a damn party for time travelers to prove his point! This is distinctly backwards in time! Holy shit, Calvin…

She lifted her head, mouth agape and drawn down. Was he okay? Who were those thugs? Who were the thugs that just attacked her? Who shot that woman? Tilda pinched the bridge of her nose, praying this was all some fever dream.

Bells chimed in the distance, gently pulling her out of her head. With satisfying click clacks against the cobblestone, Tilda moved forward. Every instinct told her to keep moving, whether or not those instincts meant anything in whatever kind of dream this was was entirely beyond her.

Chapter Text

The next morning, everything happened so fast.

Tilda’s leg jolted back, starling her awake. She lifted the gun and cocked it before her bleary eyes could focus. A man about her height in an emerald green jacket put his hands up. Mid morning sunlight crept into the back alley courtyard she found herself in the night before. The hard stone beneath her numbed her rear and part of her legs, sending pin pricks through her as she drew her legs up away from the intruder.

“Easy,” he stepped back.

“I’m not in the fucking mood,” Tilda growled. It wasn’t a fever dream after all.

“Ain’t here to hurt you,” another one chimed in, “boss asked us to wake ya up, sleepin’ beauty.”

“Boss?” she glowered, “who do you work for? What does your boss want?”

“A friendly chat,” a creamy voice sprang up from behind the green clad men.

Footsteps forced them to part, revealing a well dressed, barrel chested man with a short scruffy beard. Her eyebrows shot up, she was a surprised at the response. He didn’t look like the kind of guy that needed an introduction, so why the muscle? The longer she looked at him, the more he looked like a coiled snake ready to strike.

They’re not here to scare me. They’re here to calm me. She realized this and grit her teeth. Alarm bells rattled away in her head, screaming at her to keep looking at him. If she was looking at him, he wouldn’t move.

Okay so he’s a Weeping Angel? Tilda you freak. She tried to calm herself and rationalized. You’re probably wrong about him.

“Got a name?” Tilda kept her gun up, her voice shaking with the force of her heartbeat.

“Jacob Frye, leader of the Rooks,” he grinned proudly.

“Right. That means so much to me,” she tried to look at the other men in her peripheral without breaking eye contact, mouth running dry, “gang?”

“Very good,” Jacob leaned on his cane, “Now it’s your turn.”

Tilda looked him up and down, those scars on his face had to mean something. A sharp glint caught her eye. Her heart skipped a beat and she locked onto the gauntlet on his arm. It’s a strange weapon she had seen a lot of in the last 24 hours, was he an assassin like Calvin? Or was he like the thugs? She gently bit her tongue to try and wet her mouth.

“Matilda Everett,” she set her jaw.
He smirked, “well, Miss Matilda Everett, my colleagues and I would like to ask you a few questions in private.”

“What if I don’t want to?” suddenly aware of her vulnerable position on the ground Tilda got to her feet, eyes narrow and gun aimed, “give me a reason to trust you.”

Jacob smirked softly, “I’m afraid you don’t have a choice in the matter.”

Tilda gulped dryly, “oh yeah? Well, we’ll see about that.”

Grinning, he stepped forward, “we shall.”

She broke eye contact just for a moment, a fraction of a second, to find the nearest exit and was slammed against the wall with a blade at her throat. Jacob wrapped his hand around her wrist and twisted it against the wall, forcing her hand to release the gun.

“Shit!” she coughed, squirming under his weight. Tears stung her eyes from the force of the impact and threatened to roll down her cheeks.

“Bring the growler around,” Jacob ordered the men. He pressed the edge of the blade against her skin and crushed her wrist into the wall, “do stop writhing.”

“Fuck you,” Tilda hissed, “I’ll-”

Gunshots and shouting broke out at one of the alley’s connected to the courtyard. One of the Rooks backed into the courtyard, knife drawn and taunting an unseen adversary.

Another deafening crack rang out and his head bloomed open, sending a spray of blood across the walls. Jacob spun around, cane at the ready.

Tilda’s eyes grew wide when three grunts in bright red rounded the corner. She glanced down at the jacket she lifted the previous night and never ever felt so glad for gang rivalries. She locked eyes with one of them, twisted from sick amusement to rage at the sight of ‘one of their own’ stuck between a wall and Jacob Frye.

“Don’t make me come over there!” he waved his pistol and took several hulking steps toward Jacob.

Tilda held her breath as Jacob stepped away from her, wait-just another step or two…now! The instant there was a gap, she bolted past Jacob and pushed him toward the rival gang with as much force as possible. Her arms felt so weak against him, but he stumbled nonetheless. He cursed somewhere behind her. Tilda slipped between the red jackets and tore through the alley.

Everything rushed. Her heartbeat, her feet, her mind. She knocked people out of her way unapologetically as she ran. Pumping her legs as fast as possible, she went right into the road, skirting around a slow moving carriage.

Tilda’s boots slipped on the slick stones as she rounded a bend in the street, her elbow landing hard on the road. Pain shot up her elbow to the base of her skull. Wincing, she scrambled to get up, cradling her arm, and looked around frantically. Desperation clawed at her chest. In one last mad dash she ripped a passing carriage’s door open and threw herself inside.

“I’m so sorry, I need…” she slammed the door behind her, “…help.”

The carriage was empty. Her arms gave out with a mix of emotions, sending her to the floor. Relief that she got away and that she wasn’t about to be kicked out of a moving carriage. Anxiety that there was no dashing gentleman or dame willing to help her. She laid on the floor of the carriage, her heart calming with each passing second.

Each stone they passed over bumped and knocked her a little, but she barely felt it with the buzzing in her arms and legs. A surge of euphoria bubbled inside of her. She smiled, despite herself, and held her chest, holding back the laugh caught in her throat. To be honest, she had no idea if she was being chased or not. She prayed Jacob was too busy with the gang to notice where she went.

Breathing in the post-adrenaline bliss, Tilda sat up and peered out the window. It was impossible to tell where she was. She knew close to nothing about the layout of Victorian London. Scratch that. She knew absolutely nothing about it. Big Ben was somewhere, she heard it a few times the night before- but she could forget trying to get to it. What would she even do if she got there?

The scent of freshly baked bread wafted through the air and her stomach growled. She bit her lip and slipped under the window, hand clutching her stomach. It had been hours since she last ate. Maybe if she could just slip inside…

“Stop that man!” a man shouted right behind the carriage.

With the crack of the reigns and a sharp “hyah!” the carriage lurched forward, sending her against the seat.

Tilda clutched the seat, her euphoria shattered. The small jolts and bumps of the road turned into jumps and skids. The reigns cracked again and she tumbled across the carriage, slamming into the other side.

“What the hell is going on?” Tilda gasped in pain, too stunned to scream.

She lifted herself onto the seat. People and buildings whipped by at an alarming speed. Her heart raced in her chest as she slowly poked her head out the open window. Trepidation twisted her stomach uncomfortably. If she had any food in her stomach, she might have thrown up at the sight of the familiar coat and hat driving the carriage.

“You fucking asshole!” Tilda gasped and her knuckles went white as she gripped the window frame. Jacob Frye sat at the reigns. He flashed a shit eating grin at her and yanked the reigns to one side, sending the horses around the corner. Tilda flew across the seat and hit the opposite wall.

“Bastard’s trying to kill me!” she hissed, “slow the fuck down you maniac!”

This went on for what felt like hours, but in reality was only about ten minutes. She could practically feel her skin growing purple with bruises, and each time she tried to stabilize herself, the carriage jolted, earning her another bump. Hunger induced weakness wasn’t helping.

She knew what she had to do, and she really didn’t want to do it. With the last of her strength she braced herself against the seat closest to Jacob and peered out the little window.

“Alright, asshat! I’ll answer your questions!”

With that, Jacob pulled the reigns tight. Tilda’s hands slipped across the seat with the force of the stop. Her forehead crashed into the glass. Dazed, she stumbled back from the seat. The window was shattered and spattered with mud. Tilda blinked a few times, vaguely aware of the door opening.

Not mud.

Blood.

“F-fuck…”

A hard chill bloomed at the back of her neck, pounding throughout her body. She shivered and felt nauseous, her face wet with sweat and blood. She threw her head back and groaned painfully, her limbs were heavy and weak.

About five years ago, for Tilda anyway, she felt something very similar. Calvin was helping his friend install cabinets and she tagged along to lend a hand. Carpenters, they were not. One cabinet fell from the wall and hit her, breaking her ankle and giving her sixteen stitches along her thigh.

The doctor said she went into shock.

She felt darkness looming over her. With great concentration, she opened her eyes. Jacob’s leather jacket creaked as his arms slipped under her body and he drew her close. He murmured something, but Tilda couldn’t hear him over her own shivering and the roaring in her ears.

Tilda gripped the lapel of his jacket weakly, “where are you taking me?”

Jacob didn’t reply. He’s running, she realized, I can barely feel it. Tilda’s body buzzed like she was about to go numb. She blinked furiously and looked up at his face, the cold and pain forcing whimpers from her.

The next thing she knew, she was tucked into a strange bed with a little girl dabbling her forehead. The bed rocked and bumped gently, and the sound of a train whistle went off nearby

Tilda wet her lips and looked around at the tight space. It was actually very cozy. Tilda slowly grabbed the child’s wrist with a weakness that startled her. Hunger, dehydration, shock, time travel, it all sapped the strength from her body.

The girl smiled at Tilda and laid her wrist down, “you’re quite lucky Mr. Frye was there to save you,” her eyes glistened, “I’ll bet you’re thirsty, would you like some tea?”

Tilda didn’t have the energy to roll her eyes. Save me? Yeah, right. That’s pretty much the opposite of what happened. She slowly sat up. Instant pain throbbed against her skull and she put her hand to her forehead, a little surprised to find it wrapped up in bandages.

“Where am I? Who are you?” she groaned as she laid against the headboard, each vibration sending a new wave of pain through her head.

“I’m Clara O’Dea, you’re on the Frye twins’ train, Bertha,” the girl replied.

“Oh my g- there’s two of them?” Tilda closed her eyes and muttered, “two of them will definitely be the death of me.”

“I shall tell them you’re awake,” Clara leaned in and gave Tilda’s arm a soft pat. She ran off before Tilda could probe her for more information. Sighing, she pressed the back of her head into the headboard and took stock of events. Alright. I crashed into water- really gross water- the Thames? Got into a fight with a gang. Someone helped me but didn’t stick around for thanks. Wandered for… how long? Hours. Passed out in a cold alley- damn this bed is comfortable- and woke up at the feet of another gang. Got my ass kicked by the inside of a carriage. I’m on a train- I’m on a train with a bed?

Tilda glanced around the train car. It was full of knick knacks, a handful of books, and other little personal touches. Despite smelling like coal, it was pretty clean, as clean as she expected a Victorian train to be anyway. The wooden floors made her think of her grandparent’s house in Maine, as did the light fixtures. Well, in appearance anyway, they flickered strangely, making Tilda wonder if it was electricity or if she was looking at an actual gas light. All in all, it was a beautiful train from what she could see.

Nobody names anything without loving it. And it’s so homey. Someone loves this thing.

Soft, rhythmic thunks broke her from her thoughts. They grew nearer and nearer until a lithe young woman with dark hair and freckles came around the side of the bed closely followed by a handsome tanned man with jet black hair, and the last person Tilda wanted to see, Jacob. Tilda shot him a half-lidded glare.

“I see my brother has already made an impression,” the woman said with a tone that sounded a lot like ‘my brother is an idiot, I’m sorry.’

Jacob leaned in and growled, “I got her on the train, didn’t I?” and sauntered off to the foot of the bed.

“Yes, with a head injury,” the woman said, “I am Evie Frye, and this is our associate, Henry Green, you’ve already met Jacob” there was the slightest hesitation on the word ‘associate.’

Tilda looked between them. Right off the bat, they seemed calmer and less intimidating than Jacob. Henry smiled politely at her and bowed his head. Evie held herself with confidence, but spoke lowly, as if trying not to startle her.

Tilda’s glare softened, she didn’t feel like she had to keep them in sight like she did with Jacob, but maybe that was because she hit her head.

“Matilda Everett, Tilda for short,” she introduced herself, “you’re twins?”

Evie smiled a little and nodded, “yes-”

“Thank God,” Tilda interrupted her with a sigh, “I thought there was going to be two Jacobs.”

“One is quite enough,” Evie cast an irritated glance at her brother, who threw a shit eating grin back at her, and rested her hand on the bedpost, “are you feeling well enough to answer some questions, Miss Everett?”

Right on cue, her stomach growled. Henry immediately volunteered to bring her something to eat. What an angel, Tilda smiled gratefully as he passed. They waited until Henry returned with bread, jam, and tea to start their questioning.

“So,” Jacob began, still sour from the ‘two Jacobs’ comment, “care to explain yourself?”

Tilda glared at him and swallowed a bit of bread, “explain what, specifically?”

“What my brother means to say is what was that vehicle you rode?” Evie stepped in.

“Wait, you saw me?” Tilda looked up at Evie, who nodded in reply.

“It’s rather hard to miss a green fireball exploding out of a black cloud,” Jacob snorted.

“I…” Tilda shook her head, “it wasn’t a fireball. It was a…uh…atimemachine.”

“A what?” Jacob came closer, his tone sharp and agitated, “you’ll need to speak up, Miss Everett.”

Tilda took a deep breath and spoke slowly, “my friend told me it was a time machine.”
The Frye twins looked at each other, obviously in disbelief. Tilda gulped and gripped the sheets, her hands trembling from hunger. After several moments of silence, Evie turned to her.

“And what time did you come from, Miss Everett?” she spoke slowly, uncertain.

They’re humoring me. Motherfuckers. Why didn’t I study history? Even music history? I can’t prove anything.

Tilda’s chest thumped in her chest, they’d never believe her and probably send her to an asylum. She didn’t need to be a history buff to know they’ve always been shit places to store people. Tilda looked at Jacob, seeing more doubt in his face than Evie’s. She slowly glowered. She’d make him believe her, somehow.

“I was born February 13th 1997. April 22nd 2017, my best friend, Calvin- who, apparently is an assassin, and I were watching TV- and no, I am not explaining that right now- when his apartment was attacked by thugs wearing those things,” she nodded at Jacob’s gauntlet, “he saved my life. He had the time machine. No, I don’t know why. I also don’t know why he chose Victorian London. Don’t ask me to prove anything, because I can’t.”

Tilda sucked in a deep breath and took a sip of tea to wet her mouth.

“You were the only one to come out of the water. Where’s your friend?” Jacob asked.

She looked down into the teacup, all anger and arrogance draining from her face, “I don’t know. He was pulled from the machine before it went off,” her voice cracked, “listen, I don’t have many answers, okay? I’m a musician, not a scientist or a historian. I study music, not quantum physics or anything particularly useful in time travel.”

Evie sat on the edge of the bed and placed her hand over Tilda’s in a surprisingly warm gesture, “tell us everything you can, no matter how small the detail.”

“It is often the small details that tell the most,” Henry finally spoke up, “we will help you get home, if we can.”

Tilda shook her head, “right, not help me right into an asylum.”

Jacob’s face went stony, “You don’t have to worry about that.”

She searched his face. Now, Tilda was by no means a facial expression or body language expert, ask her which way eyes will flick when someone is lying and she’ll just shrug. But when she looked at Jacob, she believed him.

Tilda took a deep breath and recounted the last couple of days to the best of her ability.

Chapter Text

“Trying to reach Matthew Everett? He’s probably at work. Trying to reach Matilda Everett? Good luck!”

Calvin’s chest clenched at the sound of Tilda’s voice on the Everett sibling’s home voice mail, “Matt! Calvin. You need to take Veronica and high tail it out of there. Now. The apartment was attacked. You might be next. Tilda’s gone, I’ll explain later!” he hung up and punched in the next number on his list, Matt's girlfriend, Veronica. He pacing the back and forth in the kitchen as it rang.

“Hi, you’ve reached Veronica, I’m busy, but leave a message! Promise to get back to you ASAP. MWAH!”

“Veronica! Why do you never answer your phone?” he growled, “you and Matt aren’t safe. You gotta move. I’ll contact you.”

Calvin hung up, his hands shaking and covered with flecks of dried blood. His entire right side tingled with electricity, but no matter how many times he touched metal, it wouldn’t just shock him and leave him be. He hastily ripped the battery out of the old Nokia and shoved the pieces into his pocket. His previous carelessness brought this on, he wasn’t about to jeopardize the others by leaving his battery in his spare phone so that he could be tracked again.

Heart pounding, climbed onto the kitchen counter and wedged his hand between the refrigerator and the cabinet. His fingers pressed against a bit of paper that slid out with a loud hushing sound. A little black thumb drive was taped onto the paper. Calvin glared at it.

All this, for a little drive. And he had to mess it all up. They didn’t even know about the machine until he led them right to it. They just wanted the thumb drive.

The man that tore him from the time machine was weak, Calvin tried not to think about how easy it was to get information out of him once he lost two fingers. It made him sick.

He tore the drive from the paper, shoved it in his pocket, and jumped down from the counter. Tilda’s face beamed at him from the fridge, she wore a pale blue floral sun dress in the picture. He carefully took the picture in his hands. It took several minutes to convince her that, yes, because it was at his parent’s vow renewal meant that he got the keep the picture.

He tenderly folded the picture into his pocket. I will get to you, he promised, feet pounding as he ran out of the apartment, and I’ll kill anyone that gets in my way.

The streets were slick with rain water, giving the city a reflective glow from the traffic lights. When did it stop raining? It didn’t matter. He had to disappear, and one place in particular came to mind. Once he was there, he could contact Matt and Veronica safely and get to work bringing Tilda back.

It took him well over an hour to get to the two-hundred-years old building, the Boston Athenæum, but only moments to slip into the tunnel through the Granary Burying Ground.

The tunnels were probably older than the graveyard and the library. At least, they certainly smelled like it. The smell of stagnant water and old bones choked him as his feet splashed in what felt like primordial soup.

Calvin blindly reached out for the wall and stepped out of the water onto a narrow ledge. He edged down the tunnel, using his hands to guide the way. His hands slid across the damp stone walls, catching on support beams every fifteen feet. One beam…two beams…three beams…

The echoes of his feet shuffling across the ledge got shorter and shorter. After passing the fourth beam, he stepped down from the ledge into the water and carefully put his hands out, feeling for the door in the darkness. His fingers jammed against the wooden door, sending a jolt of pain up his arms.

“Ouch,” Calvin shook his hands and reached out more carefully. He found the doorknob and gave it a hard twist.

The door creaked as it swung open, revealing only slightly less darkness. Distant and dim light lazily poured into the room from a handful of ornate grates on the ceiling. He went into the middle of the room where a five pronged blob clung to the ceiling. He reached up blindly, waving his hand back and forth until he batted a small chain. With a sharp tug, he filled the room with light.

Calvin slammed his eyes shut and hissed at the light. Groaning, he waited a moment before blinking his eyes open. The light buzzed above him and cast everything in a yellowish light. Boxes stacked up to the ceiling filled one corner of the room, mostly hiding a metal office desk back there and partially blocking off another door. The corner directly across from the tunnel had a small set of stairs leading up to a small blocked off part of the library. Most importantly, against the far wall sat a computer. Thank God it’s still here.

This wasn’t just any ordinary computer though, this thing was take straight from Abstergo Laboratories. It had access to information that supercomputers could only dream about. Calvin made sure the doors were locked before plugging it in and booting it up. While it went through its start up processes, he put his phone back together.

Calvin punched Veronica’s number, unwilling to hear Tilda’s voice on her and Matt’s voice mail, and hit call while he kicked his wet shoes and socks off.

“Cal?” Veronica’s lilted drawl came through the speaker.

“Veronica!” he sighed in relief, “is Matt with you?”

“Yes.” The sound of a car driving past her came through just loud enough for him to hear. Veronica didn’t add her usual ‘darling’, 'hon', or ‘love’. Calvin looked up from the computer and furrowed his brow.

“I’m… I’m reading a really interesting book,” he said cautiously, “you and Matt should come by to check it out.”

“Of course,” she said quickly, “we’ll be right over.”

“Be safe.”

Veronica hung up.

Calvin looked at his phone for a moment before taking the battery out. All he could do was wait and hope. In the meantime, he worked to login to the computer. It took him a few tries, and several minutes of waiting between password attempts to keep it from locking him out, but fifteen minutes later he was logged in.

The door opened just as he reached for the thumb drive in his pocket. Calvin turned, but made no move, it could have been a draft in the tunnel. Right?

“Calvin, hon?” Veronica stepped in first, her long red hair a wreck and make-up running down her face. Calvin jumped to his feet and darted to her. Matt was right behind her, one eye a deep red with a few purple splotches and crimson stains on his knuckles.

“You made it,” Calvin smiled despite himself.

“Barely,” she huffed and threw her soaked shoes in the corner, “now, where’s Tilda?”

Calvin’s face fell and his fist clenched, “they came for me and the machine.”

Matt stepped around Veronica, “where the hell is my little sister, Calvin?”

Taking a deep breath, Calvin crossed the room to the computer. He gripped the desk and murmured, “London, England. 1868.”

“Excuse me?” Matt bellowed, “why is she there?!”

“I thought if I could use the machine, I could get us to a safe time, or at least a time I’m familiar with,” he admitted and fished the thumb drive from his pocket.

“I’m sorry, you what?” Veronica scoffed, “there’s nothing but total upheaval, even if you two found a safe place to hide, what would you do if she got sick or injured?”

“I know! I know,” he shook his head, “it was stupid.”

“Fucking right it was,” Matt turned Calvin around and held him by the collar, “my little sister is in the past! I knew we should have told her about the Assassins and Templars. I knew we should have hidden the machine with someone else!”

Calvin’s eyes went ice cold, “I wanted to bring her into the fold. If you let me do that, then maybe she’d be with us right now. Don’t act like you always wanted her to join us. You wanted to keep her out of all this. Well guess what? Tilda’s always been part of this- now we can fight about who’s fault it is, or we can get to work getting her back.”

Matt narrowed his eyes, his bloodied knuckles going white as he clenched his fists. Veronica laid a gentle hand on his arm and gave it a light squeeze. His head snapped to look at her, the sharpness in his glare softening as she nodded at him. Matt slowly uncurled his fingers and stepped back, letting Calvin go.

“Alright,” Calvin smoothed his shirt and turned to the computer, “this thumb drive has about 40% of the information we need on the machine, encrypted of course,” the drive fit into the USB port with a loud shick.

“Where do we find the rest of it?” Veronica asked, leaning against his shoulder to see the screen.

“I should…” Calvin booted up Abstergo Decryption software, “sorry, I should be able to find login information in here somewhere,” he stood up straight, watching the little black text box fill with lines and lines of code, “until then, it’s a waiting game.”

Veronica rubbed his shoulder, “it’s been a while since we worked out of here, we should get everything cleaned up, right love?” she looked at Matt.

“Right,” he huffed, dripping with anger, “clean, while Tilda is in the past, doing who knows what in order to survive!”

She looked at him icily, “What else can we do, dear? If you have a solution, I’d very much like to hear it.”

He scoffed and shook his head. He stormed over to the stacks of boxes and grabbed the first one, checked the label, and put it off to the side. Veronica sighed and joined him in silence, knowing all too well the frustration he felt.

Calvin rubbed his forehead. This wasn’t where he wanted the night to go. If they got to the machine just a second earlier, he’d be with her, safe and sound. But now, even the past was a mystery. Everything could have changed, and he’d never know, because it would just be history to him.

Whatever was happening, he prayed that Tilda was okay.

Chapter Text

Three days after she arrived in Victorian London, Tilda sat at the back of the train, watching the tracks disappear around the bend. A handful of stars dotted the twilight sky as the horizon lost it’s pink hue. She dangled one leg over the side of the step, keeping her calf flexed because she was worried about getting a foot caught between the railroad ties. It was chilly that night, and though she hated the color, the Rook jacket she was given did protect her from the cool night air. The yellow sash kept her hair back in a bow, because of course her hair band from the future went missing.

She picked at a hole in her trousers absently. She couldn’t comfort herself by thinking that she and Calvin were looking at the same sky. Even with her colorful vocabulary, she found it difficult to express her worry for a man that didn’t exist yet. Her fingers itched for her violin bow, or the buttons of her bass clarinet. Logically, she knew she didn’t have to worry, because Calvin wasn’t born yet, but her heart thumped anxiously when her thoughts drifted to that night. It’s not like she was only a few years behind and could warn him, she was over a century away.

A familiar song passed her lips, if she couldn’t play to relieve stress, she might as well try singing. Tilda kept it quiet, just a soft hum. It wasn’t very good, but it wasn’t for show, so it didn’t matter. She might be able to leave a lasting message for him, his parents were-or will be- history professors, but there’s still no guarantee he’d get it. Maybe a song? If she wrote a song and it was any good then maybe someone would find it in the future?

“My, what a lovely tune,” Henry’s warm voice broke her thoughts. She abruptly stopped humming and turned, face flushed.

“I didn’t know you were back there,” Tilda smiled nervously.

“To be fair, I am trained to be silent,” he smiled from the doorway, “I wanted to let you know that we have found a place to house you, should you wish to leave the train. Additionally, it would be unwise to keep dressing you as a gang member. We wouldn’t want to attract any unwanted attention to you.”

Tilda looked down at the jacket, she’d have to agree with him on that. She already made enough of a spectacle by flying through the sky on a big green fireball, seen by who knows how many people, the last thing she needed was to be recognized as a Rook.

“Yeah, you could call it false advertising,” Tilda looked back up at him with a frown, “I don’t exactly have my own clothes though, or money to buy any…”

“Not to worry, I know someone that may be able to help and owes me a favor,” he replied, “you are in good hands, Miss Everett.”

“I can’t imagine owing a favor to an assassin, people really live on the edge here,” she chuckled, “thank you, Henry.”

“You’re quite welcome,” he bowed his head, “do get some rest, Miss Everett, it will be a long day tomorrow.”

And boy, he wasn’t kidding.


***


Early morning light gently woke the city with it’s pale yellow glow. The roof shingles were slick with dew, but it wasn’t anything new to the Frye twins. The shop across the street was bright with warm light, various fabrics were moved around, getting ready to open while serving a special customer. Henry could be seen talking to the shop keeper and looking toward the back with nod.

“Any particular reason I’m playing nanny?” Jacob crossed his arms, breath coming in light puffs in the cold morning air.

“Mr. Green and I are tracking both the Piece of Eden and Miss Everett’s time machine, Jacob,” Evie explained, “you’re not playing nanny, you just need to bring her to the stronghold. Like it or not, she is our responsibility now.”

“Oh I’m sure she’s eager to get in a growler with me,” he scoffed.

The bell above the door echoed off the street as Henry and Tilda left the store.

“You might try walking,” Evie slid down and over the side of the roof. Jacob rolled his eyes and followed. He could read between the lines, she meant ‘you might try apologizing.’ If he apologized, it would be because he wanted to, not because his know-it-all sister told him to.

“I can’t thank you enough, Mr. Green,” Tilda smiled at Henry as the twins approached.

“It was my pleasure, Miss Everett,” Henry bowed his head graciously.

“You have all of Greenie’s contacts at your fingertips, and you pick the simplest thing possible,” Jacob teased, sauntering across the street. Tilda wore a pale yellow dress and a goose gray crochet hood, and her face grew red with irritation.

She shot him a glare, “yeah, sorry. High fashion entails squishing my internal organs. No thanks.”

Evie’s smiled in amusement at Jacob before looking to Tilda, “you look lovely,”

Tilda’s cheeks went full scarlet, and Jacob could feel his own cheeks warming. Her eyebrows furrowed together, lips drew tight in a forced frown, and it was somehow rather charming.

“Thank you, Evie,” Tilda muttered, as if unsure how to take a compliment.

“Don’t you and Greenie have some magical artifacts to search for together?” Jacob asked. Tilda looked at him, her dark eyes scrutinizing him and her cheeks fading to it’s natural olive tone. She still didn’t trust him.

Evie cast him a suspicious but far more trusting glance, “yes. Jacob will escort you to a safe place, Miss Everett,” she explained.

Tilda’s face soured, “Oh. Alright.”

“You will be quite safe,” Henry tried to assure her, “only the foolish will approach you with Mr. Frye at your side.”

It was hard not to let his chest swell with pride at the compliment. Tilda looked between Henry and Evie before nodding, “alright.”

Jacob offered her his arm with a cheeky grin. She slowly crossed the distance to him, eying first his arm and then him. He could see the gears turning in her head as she slipped her arm around his, her hand an uncomfortable fist.

With a careless wave to his sister, he led Tilda, “have fun hunting useless artifacts.”

Always gaining for the last word, he walked off before hearing what Evie had to say.

Tilda cast him a sideways glance, keeping lockstep with his steady pace with stiff silence. His natural swagger did nothing to dissuade her arm in his, if anything, it made her grip a little tighter. She pressed his arm tight against her side, and he could easily feel the warmth of her flesh beneath her dress. He could feel the very expansion of her ribs as she breathed. Her walk was too powerful for a young lady. It was the walk of someone with a great need to take action. And yet, there was an unmistakable air of uncertainty.

Jacob risked a glance at her face. Her dark eyes flicked over to him and she turned her face slightly.

“What?”

He leaned in, “you seem anxious, Matty.”

“It’s Tilda,” she snapped, “I’m only walking down the street with a known gang leader. What could possibly go wrong?”

Jacob grinned deviously, “there’s an obvious solution, you know.”

“What’s that?” Tilda looked at him out of the corner of her eye.

He leaned in closer, “we don’t walk on the street.”

“Oh. This ought to be good. Where are we going to walk, Frye?” she smirked.

“Follow me,” he unlinked their arms and slipped down an alley, turning only when he realized she wasn’t right behind him, “are you coming?”

She glanced around the alley before her eyes landed on him, “Follow the strange man down a back street. That’s a really smart idea,” with a huff, she did just that.

He looked up the side of the building, “about as smart as jumping into a strange carriage.”

Tilda rolled her eyes and stood beside him, “yeah, look where that got me. Alright, Frye, now what?”

“Now,” Jacob grinned down at her, “we have some fun.”

Jacob wrapped his arm around her waist and pulled her to him. Tilda put her hands on his chest and leaned away, her lips curled into a frown, “What the hell?!”

“Hold on, Matty,”

“Why?” her eyes went wide.

Jacob raised his arm into the air and looked up. She must have seen the grappling hook on the underside of his gauntlet, for her arms wrapped around his neck tightly, bringing her chest against his. Her warm breath tickled his neck and sent a shiver down his spine. Jacob grinned and the hook launched from the mechanism to pierce the brick chimney above. They sprang off the ground swiftly, earning Tilda’s forehead pressed into his cheek and a string of panicked curses.

His fingers dug into her side as he bounded up the face of the building with practiced ease. With one foot braced against the chimney, he cautiously deposited her onto the roof. Tilda pressed her back against the wide side of the chimney with her hand against her heart.

“Oh my gosh,” she said between gasps, her voice shaking.

Jacob landed on the roof gracefully, the hook clicking as it retracted into the launcher. He turned to her with a smug grin, only to find her doubled over with her hand on her stomach.

“They breed you rather weak in the future,” he shook his head and put his hand on her back, ready to grab her long chestnut braid if she threw up.

Tilda’s face suddenly came up, red and beaming, “oh my gosh that was scary!” she laughed.

Jacob raised his eyebrows in surprise, his lips curling upwards on their own, “oh really?”

“Yeah!” she straightened and put her hands out flat in front of her with another laugh, “I’m shaking, holy crap, that was so much fun.”

“Fun?” he was stunned, expecting fear or anger, but not laughter.

“Hell yeah!” Tilda’s eyes crinkled with her smile, “but warn me next time?”

It was Jacob’s turn to smile, “now, where would be the fun in that?”


***


It didn’t take long for them to reach the stronghold like that. Tilda had expected it to be a single building, not a handful of buildings nestled behind the city streets. On the ground, several Rooks talked around a fire barrel or milled about. Some leaned up against the recently repaired brick buildings, watching nothing in particular.

Jacob’s grappling hook sunk deep into the roof of one of the buildings and hand wrapped around her waist. It was warm and rough, but in a good way. Tilda tried not to think about it too much, focusing on the wind rushing around her when they cut through the air, but it was hard. He pressed her against him and she slipped her arms around his shoulders, remembering the feeling of his stubble against her skin. They landed on a little overhang, careful of the bricks stacked up near a patched hole.

Jacob threw one of the windows open, stepped in, and helped her inside. If she didn’t know any better, she might think this was a scene from a teen romance movie. Tilda smirked at the idea, I guess he does have that bad boy aspect, does that make me the nice girl? HA! That’s funny.

“Welcome to your home away from home,” Jacob shut the window behind her, breaking her from her thoughts. It took a moment for Tilda’s eyes to adjust to the darkness, but when they did, she was speechless. There was no door, but rather an open corner to the staircase and a small privacy screen. The room was large with thick paned windows and a well used fireplace with a log basket beside it. On the wall facing the fireplace sat a large bed with thick quilts and blankets. There was a dresser with a lamp, and a vanity was pushed against the wall closest to them.

Everything looked used, but carefully repaired or cared for. Something about it touched her. She walked around the room, her hand dragging on each of the pieces, “this is what you were doing those days I was stuck on the train.”

“What did you think I was doing?” he asked curiously. Surprisingly, there was no trace of sarcasm.

“Killing people,” she glanced at him.

“Well,” he couldn’t help but smirk, “perhaps a few.”

Tilda shook her head, frowning in that way people do when trying not to smile. I shouldn’t think that’s funny, she chastised herself. She peered into the fireplace, it was stained with soot, but clean. Suddenly, she had the image of little boys working as chimney sweeps.

“London’s a shit city to be a kid in, huh?” Tilda traced her fingers across the mantle and looked back at him, “Frye?”

His attention was fixed on something outside the window, his face riddled with concern and frustration, “wait here,” he put his hand up to her, like he was casting a spell to keep her in one spot.

“Why? Jacob?”

Without explanation, Jacob dashed around the corner and down the stairs. Tilda shook her head in confusion and ran to the window. Several Blighters were crowded below at the entrance of the stronghold. Green and red clad men shouted over each other, threatening each other.

“Oh shit…” her gut dropped as a Blighter raised his gun at a Rook. A loud crack reverberated off the walls, Tilda clamped her hand over her mouth, eyes wide. The Rooks burst into action and swarmed the Blighters. Bright red pierced the gang, and it was hard to tell if it was from bloodshed or coats.

Gunshots and shouts rose up to her window, sending her stumbling back. She pressed her back against the wall, heart thumping wildly in her chest. This was so different from her brush with the Blighters before. Splintering wood crashed down below, followed by stomping boots and shouts. Within moments, boots were storming up the stairs, a woman below her screamed. Her head buzzed with adrenaline, where is Jacob?!

Before she could talk herself out of it, Tilda scrambled to the window she entered through and threw it open with a loud slam.

“There’s someone up there!” a disembodied voice shouted. Boots stormed up the staircase to her room.

Tilda vaulted out the window, but her boots hit the roof at an odd angle. Her back hit the roof hard and she started to slide. Cursing, she grappled at the shingles, slowing her down. Her boots caught on the edge of the roof, finally stopping her.

“The window!” a gruff voice shouted from inside her room.

Tilda whipped her head around at the sound. She propped herself up and scuttled across the roof as fast as she could, palms slick with sweat. Boots slammed onto the shingles behind her and quickly gained on her, far more used to running on rooftops than she. A dirty, meaty hand snatched her hood, it easily slipped off her shoulders.

“Don’t think you’ll be getting away so easily, girl,” he bellowed and threw the hood aside.

Tilda scrambled to get to her feet and face him. The look he gave her made her blood run cold and all the noise and chaos fell away.

“What’s this? A dove among Rooks?” he purred. Everything was in hyper-focus, his snake-like grin, the beads of sweat on his brow, the veins in his hands and arms pressing up against his skin, his monstrous size.  A pulsing knot formed in her chest, choking her.

Tilda frowned, stumbling back as he confidently stepped toward her. She glanced out of her peripherals, looking for a way out, and aside from jumping, it looked like there was only one way. And she only had one shot.

“Oh yeah,” her voice shook as she stepped back, careful not to misstep, “I’m a dove. I’ll only coo and pray someone comes to help me.”

His eyebrows shot up at her accent and he chuckled, “never had myself an American.”

“Yeah, well, you won’t toda-” Tilda slipped. The shingle she stepped on dislodged and brought her to her knees. The Blighter broke into a run, his smirk more of a snarl. Tilda twisted, hand hastily grappling for the stack of bricks. She snatched one and, like a spring uncoiling, threw the brick at him. It flipped head over tail and smashed into his face. Blood sprayed from his nose. He stumbled back blindly, eyes unfocused and rolling. His ankle twisted as he struggled for balance, and he careened off the side of the roof.

His body hit the ground with an audible thud. Tilda cringed, the knot in her chest moving to her throat. She gulped, fighting to keep her breakfast down. Thank God for softball.

“Hey!”

Tilda’s head snapped up just as another Blighter yelled at her from the window.

"Seriously?!” she scrambled to get up, one of his feet already firmly planted on the roof. He suddenly stopped, gurgling something incoherent. Blood trickled, then violently burst from his mouth. Tilda froze. He slumped over and tumbled out the window.

“Matty?” Jacob shouted, his head appearing in the window next.

Tilda fell to her knees, her heart fluttering with relief, “ha! I thought Evie said this place was safe!”

Jacob vaulted out the window and ran to her, “are you alright?” grabbed her by the shoulders and helped her up.

“Yeah,” she rested her hands on his biceps, her voice and hands shaking with adrenaline, “I know Green just pulled some strings to get me dressed like a Victorian, but do you think I can, I don’t know, get me a gun or something?” she laughed nervously.

“I think that can be arranged,” he squeezed her shoulders gently and asked again, “are you sure you’re alright?”

“Yeah, yeah, I’m…” Tilda shook her head and looked in his hazel eyes. His brow was drawn up in concern, and his eyes searched hers. Did his eyes always have little gold flecks in them? I could have sworn they were just green. Heat rushed to her cheeks and she flexed her hands, trying to get a grip on reality, but all she got was a good grip on his biceps. The fluttering in her heart intensified, leaving her breathless. Oh my- those fucking muscles- stop stop stop STOP. Jacob’s grip softened and a subtle smirk played at the edge of his lips. His pupils started to dilate, the one piece of body language Tilda knew for a fact meant something, and she gulped. She was so hot, she was positively radioactive.

“I’m fine,” she breathed, “I just need…”

Why is it so hard to talk!!

“What is it you want, love?” he asked, his voice low.

To kick you or kiss you. I don’t know yet. Tilda peeled her hands off of him and took a step back, breathing slow and deliberately, “a gun,” she finally said, butterflies in her stomach, “I don’t want some asshole Blighter to think he can bully me around.”

Jacob hesitated a moment with a slack jaw, but stood straight and broke into a devious grin, “I think I can arrange that.”

Chapter Text

Calvin paced and forth across the small room. Even knowing the year and general location of the Time Machine, months of research yielded little to no results. Building a machine was totally out of the question, for it seemed no matter how much data they accumulated, huge amounts was still missing.

As much as it pained him, he knew he had to dive into the more conspiratorial research now. He’d have to wade and sift through all of the ‘look at this woman on a cell phone in the early 20th century’ and the ‘this guy’s t-shirt clearly doesn’t match the era of the photo’ bullshit.

Even with the amount of time Veronica threw into researching the era itself, nothing came up. Not one single mention of a Matilda Everett, not one that matched anyway, and no mention of a strange machine. Thousands of hours spent cross referencing census after census, article after article, and it’s like she and the machine disappeared into thin air.

Or worse.

There was always the possibility that the machine never reached it’s destination, and she was stretched across all of time, or compressed into a black hole, or flashing in and out of existence, or stuck in a perpetual loop, or-

Calvin crushed his head between his hands, a bead of sweat dribbling between his eyebrows. His fingers entangled in his disheveled hair. He couldn’t think of it, not right now. His scalp screamed as he knotted his fingers around his hair. Taking several deep breaths, he slowly released his hands and smoothed his palms over his thighs, resuming his deep stare at the phone on the desk.

Matt would call them from a secure line soon. Somehow, Matt convinced the man responsible for their area, Marshall Patterson, to relocate him to the UK. Of course, it meant telling Patterson what was going on, and Calvin blanched at the idea of the higher-ups knowing about his inability to keep the Time Machine safe. But Patterson promised to keep his secret for now.

As long as all research was sent to him.

Calvin couldn’t figure out what Patterson was doing with the research, but he had a good feeling. Or rather, he had a sure feeling. Patterson was taking the research for himself, no doubt to recreate the machine. No matter. As long as they found Tilda, Calvin couldn’t give two shits what Patterson did with the research they sent him.

“Has Matt called?” Veronica asked softly, her voice hinting at desperation. Surely, she missed her lover.

Calvin shook his head. Veronica made a sort of deflated sound behind him, a lovelorn sigh perhaps, and perched on the desk, “you’ve been watching the phone for an hour, dear. Why don’t you rest? I’ll keep the phone with me and-”

“I’ll rest when we find her.”

His voice was hoarse from disuse. Veronica pursed her lips, obviously bothered by his curt reply, “you can’t help her if you’re exhausted,” she snatched the phone off the table, holding out of Calvin’s reach as he scrambled for it.

“Calvin,” she held it against her chest, her tone motherly and commanding, “go rest. I’ll wake you when Matt calls.”

He sneered at the patience in her voice. It sickened him how she could just accept the snail pace of everything. She narrowed her eyes.

Calvin broke into a defeated sigh, “fine.”

Veronica promptly shoved the phone between her breasts. Months ago, he might have teased her or playfully reached for it, but today, he slumped over to the mattress in the corner and collapsed.


***


BLAM

BLAM

BLAM


Three green bottles exploded on the wooden fence. Tilda raised her eyebrows, impressed with Jacob’s skill.

“So you’re a good shot, that doesn’t mean you’re a good teacher,” she fixed the holster and belt resting on her hips, vaguely wondering how she’d keep it hidden outside of the stronghold.

Jacob grabbed three more bottles from the ground and lined them up with a smirk, “here,” he came to her side and showed her the gun, “check your ammunition like so,” he flicked the cylinder open, reloaded it, and shut it with a spin, “use the iron sights at the top and squeeze the trigger.”

Tilda took the gun, careful not to touch his hand more than necessary, “that’s all?”

“Did you expect some big secret to it?”

“I guess not,” she shook her head with a tight lipped smile. She struggled with the cylinder and Jacob made a move to help her. Tilda raised her hand, stopping him, and tried again, finally popping it open. He leaned against the fence behind her with his arms crossed and watched. She brought the gun up with both hands and looked down the tiny sights at the first green bottle on the beam.

She squeezed the trigger. A loud crack filled her ears and sent birds flying into the air, but the bottle remained intact. With a sharp sigh, she tried again. Miss. Frustration bubbled up inside of her chest.

“Oh, come on, just get it already,” she hissed to herself. The gun popped and the bottle shattered.

“How many bullets do you have left?” Jacob asked.

“Um,” she lowered the revolver and turned her head towards him, “three.”

“Are you positive about that?”

Tilda popped the cylinder open. Two bullets mocked her in the five chamber cylinder.

“It would be a bit difficult to check your ammunition in the middle of a fight,” Jacob pointed out.

“Yeah,” she sighed and looked at the two bottles left on the beam. She flicked the cylinder back in and aimed, taking her time to line up the shot before firing. Dark green glass exploded as bullet hit bottle. She trained the revolver on the next bottle. She squeezed the trigger, but the bullet sailed past the glass and into the stone wall behind it.

“Crap,” Tilda muttered.

Jacob pushed himself off the fence, “remind me never to call on you as another gun.”

“Right,” she holstered the revolver and playfully glared at him, “and I’m sure you were born jumping from building to building.”

“Obviously,” he smirked back at her, “would you care to learn that as well?”

She shook her head, “I’d rather not take a flying leap.”

Jacob chuckled lowly and went to the wall, inspecting the bullet hole, “and yet when trouble hits your instinct is to climb onto the roof.”

“Did I jump from the roof? No,” she planted her hands on the fence and leaned forward, “and I’d appreciate you mentioning that I brained that guy in one hit. Without a hidden blade or a revolver,” she crossed her arms and grinned smugly, “Dove my ass. This chick’s a Shrike!”

“Beautiful and deadly,” Jacob glanced at her, eyes half-lidded.

“Uh…” Tilda’s cheeks and ears burned. She stepped back, making some breathing room between them, “I mean- I was going for the whole ‘surprisingly deadly’ thing not…not beautiful, but I guess.”

Jacob shook his head, “so demure.”

She huffed and crossed her arms tight. He was definitely doing that on purpose now. Maybe it’s just funny to him, he likes getting a rise out of me.

Or…

Tilda shook her head. Jacob might be rugged and handsome and strong but…

I’m so fucked.

She risked a glance at him, eying him from head to toe briefly. He looked back, his lips drawn up in a lopsided grin.

“Something I can do for you, Matty?” he drawled.

Heat rushed to her cheeks and she looked down, eye catching on his gauntlet. She gestured to it and cleared her throat, “can I look at that?”

Yeah, that’s why I’m looking at you. Don’t over think it, Frye. Oh who am I kidding, he’s been flirting all morning.

He considered her request for a moment, but relinquished his arm to her. Tilda stepped forward and took his hand. A jolt of heat surged through her stomach upon contact and she could practically feel sweat working through her pores. Her fingers traced over the surface of the gauntlet, following the intricatly engraved designs. She turned it in her hands, her fingertips in his palm, and examined the hidden blade and grappling hook. The black leather and gold plated metal were finely made. She didn’t need to be an expert to see that.

Mmm. Yes. Interesting. What the fuck am I doing?

She looked up to see his eyes locked on her from under his hat, examining her. Heat engulfed her face and she furrowed her brow.

“What are you looking at?” Tilda’s hand slid further into his. She instantly realized that a psychologist would giggle at her stress response.

“I hope Greenie has an associate that can teach you how to blend in,” he shook his head, the corner of his mouth subtly grinning.

She grimaced, “Like a teacher? I hope not. I already feel like a fish out of water. Someone telling me how to be a ‘proper lady’ might send me over the edge.”

“Would you rather be improper?” the grin fully cracked over his lips, “how scandalous.”

Tilda rolled her eyes and reluctantly pulled her hands from his, “I’m running with a gang and assassins for crying out loud. How much more scandalous can I get without bangin someone?”

Jacob’s eyebrow raised inquisitively and his mouth opened to ask her about it.

“I- no! Shh! I’m not explaining that right now!” she blushed deep red and nervously rubbed her left shoulder.

“Easy, Matty,” Jacob slowly grinned, “…are you alright?”

“I’m fine,” Tilda brought her hand down with a huff.

Jacob’s grin waned as he considered her. It was a lie and they both knew it. But how could she tell him that she was feeling restless? Did Victorians talk about things like that? Normally, she’d practice playing her violin or her bass clarinet, or she’d grab her shit ton of softballs and work through some throwing drills.

Tilda could do none of it.

She was pent up, and knew what sort of trouble that could get her in. Tilda’s record showed nothing but upstanding citizenship, but if she kept a diary, it would tell a different story. Parties, fights, late night tears through the city. She had the scars to prove it, but she’d be pressed and clean at home before sunrise. It was all because she was bored, restless, stressed, anything but exhausted. Getting involved in sports helped, but she still had idle time. Tilda took up the bass clarinet on a whim, the violin followed soon after.

Her mind was always occupied, her hands always busy, and she was hooked. Looking back, all the debauchery and petty crime seemed so far away, and yet, it loomed over her as her fingertips ached for music and her glove.

But now there was nothing but her thoughts and a gun. Shooting the gun felt good, really good. So did throwing the brick as hard as she could at that Blighter. And flying through the air in Jacob’s grasp felt amazing.

If anyone was going to understand, it was him. Even standing there, he focused fully on the subject of his attention, occupying all of himself with it. Unlike Evie, who seemed able to focus sharply for a time, then shift into multitasking when needed, he had to completely invest in what he was doing. And right now, it was her, and he could read her like an open book.

She held his gaze, her heart beating unsteadily and fingers shaking, both in restlessness and…what? Infatuation? Desire? There didn’t seem to be a word that fit it just right. She was nervous, but kind of giddy and embarrassed at herself at the same time. His eyes never left hers, but he smirked when she clenched her hands and smoothed them over her skirt.

Just as the silence became unbearable, something shifted in his gaze, as if he remembered something, and the Jacob stepped over a fallen beam in the fence to walk past her toward the center of the stronghold. The spell broke and he mused, “even if you can’t shoot, it is comforting to know you can always throw the gun at a Templar.”

Tilda blinked and turned to his back, “a what?”

He stopped in his tracks. Gravel crunched as he turned on his heel and looked at her, “you really don’t know?”

She shook her head and shrugged, “Calvin’s parents will be history professors, and obsessed with secret societies. I know the word but… weren’t they the guys that went on the Crusades?”

Jacob came back to her, his eyes ablaze with a certain passion she couldn’t quite place. She stepped back and put her hands on the fence behind her, gripping it tightly for stability. He leaned into her ear, soft puffs of warm breath tickling the small hairs on her neck.

“Templars are men and women bent on bringing humanity to its knees,” he hissed lowly, pointing to the ground for effect, “they believe humanity to be cattle and will do anything to gain total control.”

Tilda’s gut twisted, “then why are you dealing with Blighters?” she turned toward him. Her cheek brushed his stubble and she went rigid, almost forgetting what she just asked him.

Jacob leaned back slightly to look her in the face, “who do you think is doing all the dirty work?”

She tore her gaze away and looked at the ground, thinking about her loose understanding of gangs in the future.

“They…gangs offer ‘protection’ at a price… force people to join, or to do what they want. Kill everyone that opposes them,” she said tentatively, “a large organization using them would have access to things. The black market,” she bit her lip and shook her head, “that’s pretty smart.”

“That’s why we need the Rooks,” Jacob explained.

“Fight fire with fire,” Tilda nodded.

“Precisely,” he let the space between them grow, but not before glancing her over.

Tilda crossed her arms and looked up, choosing her next words carefully, “how do I know if someone is a Templar?”

Jacob held his hand out to her, a gesture even Tilda found strange, and poorly suppressed a grin, “care to see for yourself?”


***


“Calvin, dear,” Veronica shook Calvin awake, the phone pressed to her chest, “It’s Matt.”

Calvin shot up, his eyes straining to focus. She handed him his glasses, sat beside him on the mattress, and turned on the speaker phone.

“Alright, darling,” she said a touch louder than normal, “Cal’s here.”

“Have you found anything?” he demanded, heart thumping.

Matt scoffed, “hello to you too, Calvin. And, unlike you, I actually have good news.”

Calvin gripped the edge of the mattress, “yeah?”

“Veronica and I put our research together and were able to find a curiosity shop owned by one Henry Green,” he explained.

“Who’s that?” Calvin looked at Veronica, to which she replied, “he was the Assassin watching over London in the 1860’s. We thought he might have heard something about Tilda, if she ended up there.”

“And did he ever,” Matt barely contained his happiness, “I found documents from 1868 detailing a strange cloud appearing in the clear blue sky and a bright green comet. It says that it landed in the Thames.”

Calvin stood and paced back and forth in front of the mattress, Veronica watching him curiously as he went.

“There’s no record of any machinery with the right description being pulled from the Thames.”

“I know,” Matt replied, “I’m organizing a team to search the bottom of the river. It may still be there.”

“Darling,” Veronica interjected, “what other documents have you found from Henry Green?”

“A lot of sales ledgers. I still have papers to look through, you know how hard this stuff can be to read.”

Calvin snorted, “especially when reading isn’t exactly your strong suit.”

“Thanks, Cal,” a trace of a smile could be detected, “I’ll update you on that front later, but there’s more.”

Veronica smiled at Calvin. For a second, he froze, wondering what was so funny, but then he realized it. He was smiling for the first time in weeks. Calvin cleared his throat, “what’s up?”

“There’s a group of Assassins looking for a Piece of Eden out here. It’s safe to say someone is syncing data for them,” Matt said.

Veronica grinned, “Henry Green was looking for a Piece of Eden with Jacob and Evie Frye, twin Master Assassins.”

Calvin grinned back excitedly, “if we can get a hold of that data, we could see the Time Machine’s entry for ourselves! Prove that she made it!”

“I have something even better.”

“By all means, continue Matt!” Calvin rubbed his hands, practically laughing.

A pause.

“You know what? I’ll send you a picture.”

Calvin plopped next to Veronica, his whole body vibrating with anticipation. She grinned at him and bit her bottom lip childishly. They stared at the small screen for fourteen agonizing seconds before a text alert appeared. Veronica opened it, her hands shaking, and gasped. She tilted her head, confused.

“Oh my goodness,” realization spread across her face and she pressed her hand to her chest. Calvin’s stomach twisted and his heart fluttered wildly. He snatched the phone and studied the picture closely.

“Matthew Everett, is that…?”

“I think so. Right size, right color, there’s a design along the side we can’t make out though. It looks like it’s been exposed to the elements for quite a while before being stored away in Henry Green’s shop,” Matt said, “you know what this could mean?”

Calvin sat on the desk, his insides fluttering with adrenaline, “Now. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. It could mean that Green found them and thought they were-” he laughed at himself, “curious. But. But. But. It could mean so much more.”

Veronica bolted up from the mattress and looked at the picture over Calvin’s shoulder, “tell me those are what I think those are, dear.”

Calvin looked at her, his eyes bright, “they are.”

He looked back at the image, “they’re the sweatpants Tilda wore the night this all happened.”