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The Late-Night Time Travelers’ Philosophy Club

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Lucy was not chill. There was yelling, even after Wyatt pointed out that she couldn’t have gone and that knowing would only have made her worry, after which she explained—somewhat louder than Wyatt would have preferred—that she would have worried a lot more if Rufus and Wyatt had just disappeared, as if for example they’d been caught by whoever had been trying to kill her.

She had a point. It wasn’t exactly a secret kept. But “exactly” was for lawyers.

So he didn’t fight when she demanded the ability to go back as well. After grilling him and Rufus extensively about their travels, she took them to 2009, just outside New York City, and headed into town with a thick file folder.

“Why 2009?” he asked, when Lucy returned. He hadn’t felt the need to wander around, had a sort of superstitious fear of encountering someone he actually knew.

Lucy let him help her buckle up while she talked. “Twitter was founded in 2006, but 2009 was the year it took off. It was also the year ‘sexting’ entered the American vocabulary, after a few false starts years before.”

“What does that have to do with Rittenhouse?”

Lucy ducked her eyes. “That’s not what I was trying to stop.”

She was the first out of the door when they returned, nearly breaking an ankle in her hurry to get to an unoccupied computer. She typed a few words, then collapsed into a nearby chair in relief. She would have sent it rolling off of the platform if Wyatt hadn’t grabbed onto the back. “Huma Abedin didn’t marry Anthony Weiner.”

Rufus looked at the screen she’d abandoned. “Hillary Clinton is the president,” he said, as stunned as when he’d met other actual presidents.

“Huma Abedin didn’t marry Anthony Weiner,” Lucy said. “It was the smallest change I could think of, and it worked.”

“Articles of impeachment have already been introduced,” Rufus pointed out, leaning past her shoulder and scrolling fast. “Plus, fake news is still a big thing.”

“But we’re not going to drop a bomb on North Korea any day soon. I am a historian, and I have seen that man’s kind before.”

“No argument,” Rufus said. “I just hope you weren’t planning on a feminist utopia.”

Wyatt wasn’t sure what he thought about any of this. He hadn’t voted, disgusted by them both. But they’d seen up close what the misuse of power could do, and he trusted Lucy’s judgment. Still— “This can’t go on. Changing things we don’t like, because we can.” He grimaced. “I know that’s rich, coming from me.”

But Lucy and Rufus were nodding. “Absolute power corrupts absolutely,” Rufus said. “I have an idea about that, now that I have the data from our last trip. Give me a few hours. Go, I don’t know, go be somewhere else.”