"Got one!" Jiya declared, slinking back around the loveseat she and Rufus were sharing. She plopped herself back down next to him, simultaneously also plopping a new bucket of four beer bottles and a board game down on the table in front of her.
Wyatt leaned up from his own spot on the loveseat facing them, snagging another bottle for himself and one for Lucy. But he grimaced when he read the title on the box as he popped Lucy's open. "No," he groaned, passing the bottle next to him. "You have like twenty-five college degrees between the three of you. Don't make me play a smart people game." He knew he was verging on whining, but he kind of didn't care; it was Scrabble. He was all for some drinks on a night off, but he should have known better than to agree to a board game with three people pretty much hired for their positions by sheer virtue of how much stuff they knew.
"Seven, actually," Rufus corrected.
Wyatt rolled his eyes, grumbling, "Same thing."
From beside him, Lucy nudged him in the leg with her knee. "Oh come on," she teased, "you double majored at Texas A&M on top of ROTC. I may call you an idiot, but you're not actually one."
He glared back at her. "Gee, thanks."
She just smirked and took a sip of her beer. It might have just been his imagination (aka wishful thinking), but Wyatt thought maybe she held his gaze a little longer than necessary.
But Jiya put an end to that line of thinking when she addressed him accusingly, "Yeah, don't you speak more languages than the rest of us put together?"
Before Wyatt could answer, Rufus piped up, pouting and indignant, "Hey, I-"
Jiya just cut him off with a playful elbow to the ribs. "C++, fortran, java, and python don't count," she informed. Then, looking back at Wyatt, she chastised, "This is a language game. You'll be fine."
Wyatt knew he was fighting a losing battle by that point, but that didn't stop him from muttering in protest, "It's not like there's Arabic tiles in there. And you can't use foreign words anyway."
"Not that he has a valid argument against it," Lucy interjected, glaring sideways at him before continuing to Jiya, "but didn't we try this once before? And more than half the letters weren't there?"
"Oh, the bartender said they got new tiles," Jiya assured, spreading out the game board and passing out the tile racks.
"Great," Rufus frowned, scooping said tiles into the bag, "so when I get seven A's and all I can spell is 'AAAAAAA', I can blame him?"
Lucy laughed from behind her beer. "You can use two of them," she pointed out. "A'a is a type of lava flow."
Wyatt shot an incredulous look next to him. "Why do you know that?"
She just shrugged innocently. "You have to know the little easy words. Scrabble strategy."
He spun to face Rufus and Jiya, gesturing to Lucy and begging. "Can't we just say she won and not play?"
"I don't think they left the extras in," Jiya assured Rufus first, before turning to Wyatt, ignoring his plea with stern instructions, "You, just pick a letter."
Wyatt scowled at her but begrudgingly drew a tile. Of course it was something as shitty as a 'U', he grumbled to himself. Jiya ended up with a 'B', so she'd be going first, followed by Lucy, then him, then Rufus. At least he wasn't last…
Once everyone had drawn tiles, Wyatt slid his seven onto his letter rack, relieved to not see the slew of 'A' tiles that Rufus had predicted. He poked at them, half-heartedly rearranging them until he realized exactly what he had. A snicker escaped of its own accord, eliciting a raised eyebrow from Lucy in his direction. He shook his head at her, brushing off her stare, still grinning to himself. He just hoped she and Jiya would leave him an opening to play it.
Jiya opened the game with an apology, sliding four letters into place. "It's all I've got, sorry. PINE," she stated, mentally adding her points. "Six, and double word, so twelve."
Wyatt certainly didn't care; he was inwardly giddy, suddenly much more amenable to Scrabble. 'Spine' and 'pines' were both words; Lucy couldn't screw him over no matter what she came up with.
Lucy took a minute, staring at her tiles for a while before placing 'LBOW' on the E of 'pine'. "Double letter on W, so fourteen," she relayed to Jiya, who scribbled the number on a scrap of paper.
With it then being Wyatt's turn, he grabbed all of his tiles, placing them down with a little trash talk, "Take this, smart people." And then he arranged them, adding his 'S' to the beginning of 'pine', eventually spelling out 'CONDOMS'. "Double word, double letter, seven-letter bonus and point for 'spine' too," he declared triumphantly. "Twenty-six plus… eight. Thirty-four. Plus bonus. Eighty-four," he amended.
Jiya gamely wrote the score, but snorted as she did, teasing him, "Not the way people usually score with condoms, but that's ok, good for you."
Rufus and Lucy burst out laughing at his expense, Jiya not far behind in laughing at her own joke. Wyatt rolled his eyes, hoping he wasn't blushing. He'd walked right into that one; Scrabble was most definitely the only scoring in that sense that he'd done in …years. Not that they all needed to know that, though he was pretty sure they could have figured it out on their own if they'd bothered to try. Unwittingly, his gaze flitted over to Lucy for a split second before Jiya waved the bag of tiles in front of him, coaxing him to choose his replacement letters.
Rufus was still choking out the last of his laughing, so he took a slug of his beer to settle himself. "Zing," he chuckled, earning a glare from Wyatt. "Ok, ok. LOAF," he stated, nudging his letters into place on the 'O' in 'condoms'. "Triple letter," he said to Jiya, "fifteen."
"P-R-A-W-N," Jiya spelled out loud next, building down from the 'P' she'd played on her first turn. "Double word, so twenty."
Recovered from his minor embarrassment, Wyatt taunted, "Never gonna catch up."
It was Lucy's turn again, but she didn't make a move right away. She studied her letters for a moment, rearranging a few, before stealing a furtive glance in Wyatt's direction. Then, without a word other than to announce her score of "Twenty-nine", she poked the letters spelling 'THRUST' into place, with the 'S' making a plural of Jiya's 'prawn'.
Wyatt's eyebrows flew up, not having expected Lucy to go so risqué. Not that he minded… He tried to catch her eye, but she just looked away demurely, sipping at her beer.
Jiya just giggled as she wrote Lucy's score, but Rufus was a little more scandalized, protesting, "Really? After the other one?"
Now his turn, Wyatt scanned his letters and the board. He didn't have any particularly impressive letters, but between Rufus' discomfort and intrigue over Lucy's rather bold move, he knew what he wanted to play. Using the 'W' from Lucy's play of 'elbow', he added 'E-T-T-E-R', telling Jiya "Eighteen."
"Seriously?" Rufus spluttered. "Are you guys trying to do this?"
"What?" Wyatt asked, feigning innocence. "What else am I gonna do with a bunch of E's and T's?" He chuckled at Rufus' expense, but not without sneaking a glimpse of Lucy smirking into her beer.
Jiya patted Rufus' leg to placate him. "Ok, grandpa, we'll be good. Just go," she nudged him.
Rufus shot both Lucy and Wyatt a glare of warning before playing 'RENTED' and sternly stating, "Triple word. Twenty-one."
Ten seconds later, Jiya herself was added to the group of them on the receiving end of that glare, having played 'LICK' on the 'C' in 'condoms'. "Double word," she giggled. "Twenty."
"Oh my god…" Rufus groaned.
"What?" Jiya laughed. "I wanted the double word on the K!"
"You must have an 'A' or an 'O'," Rufus scolded her, "or a 'U'."
Jiya just smirked back at him. "I had an 'I'."
As amusing as the exchange between Rufus and Jiya was, the vaguely salacious tone of the game meant that Wyatt really couldn't help by sneak a peek next to him at Lucy. He wasn't going to lie to himself; of course he'd been …feeling …emotional things for her for a while, things that were a whole lot more than just sexual attraction, but that didn't mean those feelings weren't there too… And even though he'd been the one to start, and even encourage it, those feelings coupled with any more suggestive words with her in close enough proximity that he could make out that apple-y hair stuff or perfume or whatever that she always wore might have him needing to adjust other things. Like his jeans.
He was kind of hoping everyone would yield to Rufus' request to keep things tame.
So of course he caught Lucy peering over her shoulder at him for a split second as she leaned forward to add an 'S' to the front of 'lick'.
Wyatt didn't even see what other letters she put down to complete the rest of her word; he was mentally short-circuiting a little on the thought of anything having to do with Lucy and 'slick'. He didn't even hear her rattle off her score to Jiya; she had to nudge him in the leg again to remind him to play his turn.
Trying to get his mind out of the gutter to someplace more respectable, he stared at his letters. Just as Rufus had predicted, he'd ended up with a whole lot of 'E's and 'A's. But he spotted a triple letter spot open, so he snagged his only decent letter, an 'H', plus one of the 'E's, to play a combo of 'AH', 'HE', and 'WE' using the 'W' from 'prawn'. "Thirty-one," he indicated to Jiya.
Sounding impressed at Wyatt's mounting total, Rufus eyed him with something akin to awe. "Dude, you're a stealth scrabble guru."
"And," Jiya added, grinning wickedly, "I think AH still counts as another sex word too."
Rufus grimaced and shook his head at her while Lucy snickered.
Jiya just smiled. "What?"
With another shake of his head, Rufus just played the rather tame BOARDER on the 'R' in 'wetter'. "Twenty-six," he said, his voice tight.
"Now we're getting to all those A's," Jiya sighed upon studying her letter options. She went for the benign 'AREA' on triple word score, for fifteen points, leaving the next move to Lucy.
"There's always a'a," Lucy reminded her with a laugh. Then she placed the word 'EX' down, also making 'OX' and 'BE'. "Fifty-four," she stated, then turned to Jiya. "And," she drew out teasingly, "if you're keeping track, that was a triple… 'X'."
Jiya burst out laughing. "Niiiiice," She offered Lucy a congratulatory raised hand, and both women indulged in a giggly high-five.
Wyatt gave half a smile. At least that was a pretty ridiculous way to involve sex rather than the more suggestive things earlier in the game. And, he realized, he had a pretty sad selection of letters, but he could still add to the tamer end of the innuendo spectrum. He put a 'D' on the end of the 'be' that Lucy had just played, to make 'BED' then spelled 'AID' to ensure no one else would get the triple word.
"Do not add an 'L'," Rufus warned.
Wyatt smirked, refraining from any jokes about getting laid considering he'd already walked into one trap about that topic earlier. "I'll leave that for you, man," he assured Rufus. "No L. But eighteen," he added for Jiya's scoring tally.
Rufus ignored that opening, instead playing 'GAZE' and 'ZA'. "Twenty-nine."
Wyatt squinted at the board. "What the hell is a 'za'?"
"No idea," Rufus admitted with a shrug. "I just know you can use it."
Wyatt looked to Lucy for help.
She just shrugged too, toying with the label on her half-empty beer. "He's right. Officially, it's short for pizza."
Wyatt shook his head in disbelief, even more so when Jiya quickly played 'MA' to also create 'EM' and 'TAG'. "What's 'EM'?" he asked, now half-wondering if they were making stuff up to poke fun at him on purpose.
Jiya giggled at his question, gesturing to Lucy to take the lead on the explanation again.
Lucy eyed him with a teasing smirk. "It's how you spell the letter M. Or like, fonts, for an em-dash."
Wyatt rolled his eyes, muttering, "Never mind…"
With another grin in his direction, Lucy slid the letter for 'FOOL' onto the board, extending 'spine' into 'SPINEL'.
"Now you're really all just making up words," Wyatt complained, exasperated. "Or possibly insulting me. Or both," he added, shooting Lucy some side-eye. "And," he jested at her, "you just didn't want to make it 'laid'."
Lucy rolled her eyes right back at him, trying to look stern but clearly fighting a grin. "Spinel is a gem, like garnet," she explained, "but from further down in Earth's mantle."
"What are you, a geologist now?" Wyatt asked incredulously.
"Garnet's my birthstone," Lucy snapped as a retort. "Sorry for knowing things about it. And it was more points than 'laid'," she smirked.
With dwindling decent letters, Wyatt weighed his previous resolve to avoid anything suggestive against the opportunity for points and to annoy Rufus even more. The points and poking fun at Rufus won out; he added an 'S' to the end of 'thrust', making 'SIN' as his new word. "Fifteen," he counted for Jiya.
"Only reason I'm not saying anything is because I can do this," Rufus grumbled as he proceeded to play 'TRYING' for a triple word score.
Jiya's next move was to stick a 'Q' down for 'QI', mumbling, "Gotta get rid of it. Eleven."
Yet again, Wyatt was at a loss, turning to Lucy with a "Wh-?"
She cut him off with an explanation before he could even finish the question. "Chi - Chinese for life energy, like aligning your qi?"
Wyatt just shook his head for what seemed like the millionth time; he was so not cut out for Scrabble against this crowd. "Jesus…"
Lucy quickly got rid of a 'Y' by playing 'YA' and 'YE' for fifteen points next, leaving Wyatt staring at the grim selection that was his last four letters. E-U-E-J wasn't going to go very far, especially considering Lucy had just blocked where he could have at least put 'JET' to get rid of the 'J'.
He was just about to play an 'E' somewhere random just to do something when he caught sight of the 'B' from 'elbow' still open. And the 'J' on his own tile rack. Definitely breaking his own mental rule to try to avoid further innuendo, but… he slid the 'J' next to the 'B'.
"That's not a thing," Lucy reprimanded immediately.
Wyatt looked over at her, smirking. "Pretty sure it is," he contradicted smugly.
"I know it's a thing," she shot back, her cheeks flushing pink, if he wasn't mistaken. "It's not a Scrabble thing," she rephrased, in what he imagined was her professor voice. "It's not an actual word."
"What, vowels?" Wyatt countered. "I've got like 12 E's. Would this be better?" Any previous thoughts of censoring himself were out the window as he slid two 'E's between the 'B' and the 'J' to spell it 'BEEJ' just to see what kind of reaction he could provoke.
With a withering glare, Lucy shook her head. "No, it's not better," she scolded. "I would give you actual 'BLOWJOB'-" The word was barely out of her mouth when she caught herself, her eyes going wide as she hurried to correct herself, blurting out "The points!"
But Wyatt's eyebrows had already practically gone through the roof, definitely never having expected that to come from Lucy. He didn't know if he was more amused or turned on. "You'd give me what now?" he asked, taunting her.
"The points," Lucy reiterated slowly, deliberately, her face now flaming red. "For the full word. If you played the full word." She glared at his still overly amused expression, warning, "Don't put words in my mouth." She leaned to drain the last of her beer, but then turned back to him. And with a sass Wyatt was not anticipating, she smirked again and raised an eyebrow, adding, "Or anything else."
Wyatt could only gape at that, taken aback and heat rising on his own face.
Jiya may as well have been rolling on the ground, given how hysterically she was laughing.
And Rufus looked utterly mortified. "People can hear this, you know," he hissed. "I can hear this."
Lucy took the final swig of her beer and pulled her lips off the bottle with a suggestive pop. "What?" she asked, the picture of innocence aside from the pink tinge still coloring her cheeks and neck.
"You know what," Rufus declared, suddenly standing up, "Wyatt still has the most points, he's gonna win. I'm out." And he wasn't bluffing; he was on his way toward the door before any of them could really react.
"Rufus, no!" Lucy called after him, sounding at least a little contrite. "We're sorry…" But he was already gone.
Jiya stood too, still giggling and swiping at the tears that had escaped during her fit of laughter. "Sorry, guys, you know him," she apologized. "See you at Mason tomorrow." She turned to leave, but paused before she did so. "Uh," she started, eyeing the board, then Lucy, then Wyatt with amusement, "have a good night." And then she was gone.
With just the two of them left, Lucy faced Wyatt, laughing but looking a little sheepish.
"I think that was just a little too much public foreplay for Rufus' prudish little heart to handle," Wyatt quipped, though as soon as he said it, Lucy's eyes widened a little, and he wished he'd maybe not described it as 'foreplay'…
Instead of responding directly, she eyed the incomplete game board. "We didn't finish," she observed with dismay.
Wyatt couldn't help himself when she looked back at him, raising one eyebrow and silently calling her attention to her choice of words with his expression.
He could see the moment she realized what she said, and then she dissolved into giggles. Her laugh was contagious, and coupled with the sheer ridiculousness of the game itself, he couldn't help but laugh too.
When Lucy couldn't stop laughing, Wyatt threw out another word to egg her on. "Anticlimactic," he choked out through his own laughter.
Lucy laughed harder, a snort escaping once or twice.
"Well, it's true," Wyatt added, feeling his eyes starting to tear up, "nobody played 'climax'."
"Totally different kind of coitus interruptus," Lucy managed to hiccup out amidst her laughter.
Even though none of it was actually that funny, between the drinking, and the fatigue from the last mission, and who knows what else, both of them were verging on absurdly hysterical; Wyatt had to wipe at his own eyes, and he could see tears of laughter streaming down Lucy's face too. He probably would have tried coming up with some other joke if it wasn't for the fact that she started waving at him, collapsing back onto the loveseat, coughing out, "Stop, I can't breathe," even as she kept laughing.
And as he watched her recover, doubled over, red-faced, and struggling to catch her breath, Wyatt was struck by such a sudden rush of affection for her that it was almost a physical ache in his chest.
He wanted her. Not sexually (well yes, fine, that too), but like this. He wanted her laughing until she cried, wanted her giggling over stupid, juvenile sex jokes, wanted this other side of her that he'd never been privy to in all the time they'd spent together since getting dropped in 1930s New Jersey all those months ago. He wanted her laughing and carefree, not weighed down by the loss of Amy or the knowledge of her mother's background, not stressed over preventing Emma from screwing with the past too much. He wanted to be there for the good times, wanted to help create those good times for her. He wanted her. Everything about her. All the time.
The words tumbled out of his mouth before he even knew what he was saying. "Lucy, can I kiss you?"
She'd already sat up to start gathering the tiles by that point, and he had to give her credit for looking almost unfazed by it, considering she had to have been caught off guard. Hell, it had caught him off guard. If he hadn't known her so well, he might not have noticed that she froze for a split second before going back to scooping up tiles.
And he supposed he couldn't really blame her reaction given the earlier tone of the evening. She let out a skeptical snort, her back still to him as she leaned forward over the table. "What," she asked wryly, "because dirty Scrabble got you horny?"
Wyatt took a deep breath. "Because I'm falling in love with you."
She definitely froze longer after that.
When she finally did turn to face him on the couch, wordless and her expression justifiably stunned, Wyatt was suddenly increasingly aware of the noisy dive bar, the cluster of people now hovering and staring, either because they wanted the game or the table, and he knew that it was absolutely not the right place to have the conversation that his brain had apparently decided they were finally going to have.
Before Lucy could protest, he grabbed her hand and stood, pulling her up with him. "C'mere," he mumbled, ushering her around the table toward the door. "Just leave the game."
Wyatt only let go of her long enough to guide her to the door with his hand in the small of her back; once outside, he wove his fingers through hers and scanned the darkened street. Amidst a crowd of smokers just outside the bar wasn't an ideal location either. But he spotted a bench on the corner, just across the street near the entrance to the botanical gardens. It was as good as he could do at that point for salvaging any sort of romance factor, so, after waiting for the one lonely car on the block to pass them, he tugged her to the crosswalk and over to the bench.
Lucy was still quiet when they sat, the expression on her face mostly unreadable.
"It wasn't the stupid words in Scrabble," he blurted out. "I-" His voice caught in his throat and he took a shaky breath, looking down at their intertwined fingers. "Luce, I've never heard you laugh like that before. How many months since this shit started, and I've never heard you like that?" He sighed and looked back up at her. "I know we almost-" He trailed off momentarily, thinking back to that day at Mason, full of tantalizing possibilities… "But after your mom and Emma and everything, it just seemed like it made more sense to deal with all that crap before…" He let out a self-deprecating chuckle as he rubbed her thumb with his, admitting, "But that was dumb because now I've missed the good stuff. Laughing like that?" He smirked, nodding back over to the bar. "Over ridiculous Scrabble games? God, I love that, and I think we both need it."
Lucy let out an emphatic sniffled laugh of agreement at that, prompting a couple of tears to escape down her cheeks. She swiped at them with her free hand, but still managed a shaky smile and squeezed where her other hand still held Wyatt's.
Wyatt took that watery grin as encouragement to just continue and spit it all out. "I want to know that part of you, Lucy – I want to hear that laugh every day; I want to be the one to make it happen," he affirmed. "And even if all we really do have is Rittenhouse shit, I still want to be there for you with that too. I just want to be with you. For all of it," he added, his voice cracking and a tear or two of his own slipping out before admitting, "I don't know what I've been waiting for."
And not unlike what he'd done to her back in Arkansas, without warning, Lucy slid her free hand to the back of his neck, pulling him in and pressing her lips to his.
The taste of tears – hers or his, he couldn't be sure – gave the kiss a salty tinge when Wyatt slid his tongue over her lower lip, coaxing her to open her mouth to him. When she complied, he sighed into her, untangling their hands and instead using his to snake around her waist and pull her as close as their seated positions on the bench would allow.
When the need for oxygen finally outweighed his need for her, Wyatt pulled back, breathing heavily. He moved to frame her face with his hands, wanting to thumb away some of those lingering tears, but Lucy didn't give him the chance as she wrapped herself around him in a hug, pressing her face to his shoulder, not unlike that day when he first truly realized he'd never be able to say goodbye to her.
"I want all that too," she mumbled against him.
Wyatt hadn't really known what to expect from her, but as reassuring as her kiss had been, it was still a relief to hear the words articulated. He let his eyes close, burying his nose in her hair and breathing in that apple-y scent with a smile. "Good to know," he murmured, adding cheekily, "ma'am."
He felt more than heard her giggled response, and, leaning back from her, he smoothed her hair and studied her face in an attempt to make sure that she really was good with all of this.
But he needn't have worried; she was practically beaming, and his heart swelled a little.
"Come on," Wyatt said warmly, standing and offering his hand, "I'll take you home."
Lucy stood too, but instead of just taking his hand, she pulled his arm over her shoulders, laced her fingers through that dangling hand, and looped her other arm around his waist so she could rest her head against his shoulder. And they headed down the street toward where his car was parked.
But they'd barely gotten halfway down the block when she tugged on his hand and looked up at him with a saucy grin. "So not even a little bit 'cause you were horny?"
Wyatt burst out laughing, definitely not having expected that inquiry. "No comment," he smirked.
"I mean, you started it," Lucy pointed out, wearing a smirk of her own, "but that's kind of what I was going for."
It took them a little longer than it normally would have to get back to the car after that, but only because there was no way Wyatt was letting that comment go without pulling her in and kissing her until they were both breathless (and a little horny) again.