Lucy stands with one hand resting lightly on the back of the pilot's seat in front of her, contemplating the empty space.
It's a space she has occupied a number of times herself, with white knuckles and a clenched jaw, determined to land them safely.
(She's gotten good, but it's never as smooth as he used to manage, which was still rough at best.)
The seat is worn and dinged up in places, but it's one of the few pieces of the interior that hasn't been replaced or upgraded. No one has tried, and if they did, Lucy was sure none of the others would let them. It's a reminder.
It's a memorial.
Away from everyone else, she allows her composure to slip just a little, worrying her bottom lip with her teeth. It's been long enough now that she can't quite remember his voice. She remembers things he said - jokes, doubts, kind words of friendship - but the years have taken his voice and kept it out of reach of memory. She still thinks of him every day. When she's not careful he brings a strain to her voice and a brightness to her eyes that the others graciously ignore. The passing of years hasn't eased the pain. Wyatt still wakes up some nights with Rufus' name on his lips and guilt in his eyes, no matter how many times she's tried to convince him that it wasn't his fault. Jiya still flinches at his name, so they've taken to not mentioning it in her presence. Even Flynn tactfully lets the subject lie.
It's been a rough few years, but all their planning has finally led them here. They've been delayed so many times, by Rittenhouse and old technology and repairs. But no more. They were finally ready. She squeezes the pilot seat, silently hoping that soon she may never have to sit in it again.
She turns her head at his voice, watching Wyatt carefully duck into the Lifeboat. He's geared up and ready to go, two guns strapped near his hips. She feels the weight of her own weapons as she turns. They're armed to the teeth and not taking any chances. It's just going to be the two of them this time, and Lucy can't help but think that that's the way it should be - the two of them going back for Rufus, bringing the team back together once again. She thinks Rufus would be proud of them.
Wyatt looks to where her fingers still linger on the pilot's seat before his eyes find hers. "Today's the day," he says softly.
"Today's the day," she murmurs with a nod.
He takes a deep breath, as if to steady himself. Then with a thoughtful look he says, "You realize that if we pull this off, it'll be like he was never gone? Like these past few years never happened."
She nods slowly. It's a strange thought. They've returned to changed timelines many times before, but never one that promised to be such an improvement. It's been a long couple of years, a brutal stretch of time. She isn't sure if they'll remember it if the past is restored—Mason didn't seem certain about that one with them moving between three timelines—but she's okay if they do. That's always been their burden to bear. So much has happened, much of it painful. Even so, she reminisces, there were a few bright spots. Her eyes linger over Wyatt for the briefest of moments before she whispers, "I've really missed him."
The crack in her voice betrays her, and before she knows it he's wrapping her in his arms in a tight embrace.
"Me too," he acknowledges, and she can hear the tremor in his own voice. For a moment she allows herself this comfort, relishes in the feeling of being surrounded by him and the soft kiss he presses to the crown of her head. She tightens her arms around his neck, and presses her face into his shoulder. But comfort in this timeline is few and far between, and she knows that they have to go. She steps away from him, wiping the last stray tear away.
"Ready?" she asks, and for a second it almost feels like any other trip.
Wyatt gives her a small smile. "Always."
"I'm driving," she says firmly, sliding into the pilot's seat. She hears him chuckle and mutter something that sounded an awful lot like "of course you are". She hears the snap of his buckle and starts flipping switches, powering the machine up.
She takes a deep breath, anticipation buzzing in her fingertips. This is it.
"This is going to be weird," Wyatt says, and she appreciates the attempt at humor. "Rufus would love it."
"He really would," she agrees, the corner of her mouth twitching upwards.
The Lifeboat starts to shake as they begin the jump, but her hands are steady even as nervous energy floods her stomach. Unbidden, her right hand reaches up over her shoulder and feels his hand in hers a second later, holding firm. She closes her eyes briefly, remembering a time that felt like long ago when she'd held on tightly to her two best friends in a damaged Lifeboat, praying for a safe landing and just hoping to get home.
Now she just hopes this will work.
We're coming, Rufus.
And then with a final jolt, they've landed. There's a distant metal thud, and she thinks she might have bumped the old model on their way in. She checks the readings to be certain they're in the right spot and cranes her head over her shoulder to nod to Wyatt in confirmation. They both undo their straps and stand.
His eyes meet hers across the small space and he says, "Lucy, whatever happens here..."
"I know," she whispers, bringing her hand to cup the side of his face. She does. Always has. She knows it in her bones, the same way she knows he'll have her back the whole time. The same way he never has to look over his shoulder to know that she has his.
"We're bringing Rufus home," he breathes, and for the first time he lets anticipation show on his face.
She smiles, and this time it's a true smile, stretching wide across her face. "I know."
She lets her hand fall to her side and watches as Wyatt makes his way to the door, climbing out the hatch. She follows, shoulders squared and ready.
They are greeted by younger, familiar faces. She sees a stunned Jiya and confused Mason and Denise. She sees Flynn staring at them in awe, a knowing look in his eyes. She sees Wyatt's clean shaven face and wide blue eyes, sees her own battered face and look of amazement. The sight of all of them and the memory of how broken they had all been in this moment almost gives her pause.
Almost. She's been waiting nearly five years for this moment.
Beside her, Wyatt speaks first. "Well...what are you waiting on?"
She smirks. "You guys want to get Rufus back or what?"