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The Envy of Brothers

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From her spot curled up on Flynn’s armchair, where she was curled up with a well read and well-thumbed novel, Lucy Preston’s head shot up when she heard the alarm sound through the bunker. Almost immediately she closed the book, silently lamenting that she was having to put it down and get her head in the real world. In her mind, there was nothing better than relaxing with an old book (the smell of used books was one of her favourites in the world) and a glass of red wine. What was even better was being curled up on an armchair in the company of someone she cared about deeply. And he was just across the room from her, laying back on the bed with a book held open in one hand and propped against his knees whilst his other arm was thrown listlessly behind his head.

It was hard to think that at one point, Garcia Flynn had been considered as the enemy. But even when that had been considered to be the case, he had never once hurt her. Oh there had been threats of course – but it was war. And at that point, they were on opposite sides. The team had been unknowingly working for Rittenhouse whilst he had been fighting against them. And he’d made the point often enough – had it been Wyatt or Rufus in that box with Lincoln, he would have threatened them, too. Hell, he’d threatened the two of them often enough. And he’d apologised to her profusely ever since for hurting her – and she’d forgiven him. Not that he needed forgiving. In her mind he’d done nothing wrong. She would have done exactly the same thing if she was in his shoes.

But she’d grown to love him with her heart and soul. He felt the same and although neither of them had put it into words, they both just seemed to know. They were comfortable with each other, they made each other smile and spending time in each other’s company filled the void that had been left by the loss of their loved ones. They had found solace in each other.

As the alarm shattered the sense of peace the two of them shot to their feet and rushed from the tiny little room towards the control centre. Already Jiya was sat at one of the computers with Connor and Agent Christopher lurking over her shoulder – all three of them looked worried. As Lucy and Flynn rushed into the large space they were joined by Rufus and Wyatt…who was closely followed by Jessica.

“They’ve taken the Mothership?” Lucy all but skidded to a halt, asking the obvious question and shooting a glance at Agent Christopher.

It was Connor Mason who answered, “14 June 1497, Rome…”

“Why the hell would Rittenhouse want to go back over 500 years?” Wyatt all but spat the words, “Isn’t that a bit far back for them?”

“No…” Lucy shook her head, “Rome at that time was the world of the Borgia family and their head was Pope Alexander VI. They were literally the most powerful family in the world…and on 14 June 1497 the Pope’s son was viciously murdered, hid body found floating in the River Tiber. Some say he was murdered by his own brother, Cesare, who was super jealous of him…”

“So what…you think Rittenhouse want to kill the Pope dude?” Rufus arched a brow.

“Or they want to make sure Juan survived and his place taken by Cesare…” Flynn shook his head, his next words causing Lucy to smile softly to herself, evidently pleasantly surprised by his knowledge of the Italian Renaissance, “Cesare Borgia went on to unite the Papal States and married into the French Royal family. His death would change the course of history…and probably not for the better.

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{Rome: June 1497}

Lucy grimaced as she shifted beneath the heavy fabric skirts, struggling slightly to breathe with the tightness of the corset. She had to admin, though, that the dress looked beyond beautiful – it had long been a dream of hers to dress up like a Renaissance princess and now here she was, doing exactly that. She’d just never imagined how damned uncomfortable it could be.

The breath had truly been taken from her lungs, though, when the boys had emerged wearing their breeches and rich doublets, with swords hanging at their sides. Flynn had a black velvet cap perched atop his head and as he walked, he walked with a completely uncharacteristic swagger. It had her heart thumping in her chest, her legs going slightly wobbly and all it had taken was a look from him and she’d almost keeled over. She’d blamed it on the heat after she’d swooned and he’d caught her in his arms.

The little white lie worked. It was incredibly warm for the time of year, uncharacteristically so even for Italy, and as they made their way into the great City of Rome mosquitos swarmed all about them. Her mind went then to the stories of malarial fever that swept the city every single year and how it ended the life of Pope Alexander VI in just a few short years. It was deadly, along with every other disease of the time period. If a child survived their childhood then they would be lucky to make old age – it was only the rich and powerful who managed such things, for the most part.

“So what’s the plan?” Wyatt piped up, fiddling with the sleeve of his linen shirt.

“Well…the history books tell us that Juan and his brother attend a meal at their mother’s home not far from the Church of St. Peter ad Vincula. After the meal is finished the brothers separate and Juan is followed by a masked man…he’s never seen alive again…” Lucy glanced towards him, “They find him the next day covered in stab wounds.”

“So what do we think? Rittenhouse wants to keep Juan alive? You think Emma’s going to somehow get the brother’s to switch places?” Rufus questioned, evidently uncomfortable with the whole situation.

“I don’t know. But it seems likely…” Lucy sighed, “I guess the first thing we have to do is find the Borgia brothers. And they’ll be at the Vatican…we just have to hope that Emma and my mom haven’t gotten to them first…”

***
“My God…”

The moment Wyatt Logan stepped foot inside Old St. Peter’s Basilica, his eyes widened. He had never seen such beauty before and Christ knew he’d stepped foot in a lot of churches over the years. But this? This was something else entirely. Gold seemed to surround him, mixed in with some of the most stunning frescos he had ever seen in his entire life. But that wasn’t the best of it. Light streamed through the stained glass windows, casting beautiful patterns upon the ancient flag stoned floor and causing his eyes to well up with tears of utter joy.

The silence was beautiful, too. It calmed him to his very soul and almost made him forget about Jessica. Almost.

All about them were people praying on their knees in silence, crimson robed Cardinals going about their tasks. Some led confession in the confessional booths, others spoke in hushed tones to Church visitors.

And then Garcia Flynn stepped forward, causing Wyatt Logan to break himself free from his reverie and glare daggers at the one time terrorist.

“Excuse me, your eminence?” Flynn’s accent echoed off the high stone walls, “But we were wondering if you could tell us where Cesare Borgia and his brother currently are? We have a message for them, you see, and as it is our first time in Rome…”

“God he’s such a dick…” Wyatt muttered under his breath, the words causing Lucy to jab him painfully in the ribs.

The Cardinal eyes Flynn for a moment with his aging and watery eyes before gesturing towards a door at the side of the massive church, “The Lord Cesare is currently preparing himself for a meal at his mother’s villa. As for the Lord Juan…he is probably off drinking himself into oblivion. But you are not the first who come baring messages for the brothers…”

Flynn bowed his thanks and gestured for the others to follow him before striding confidently towards the grand oak doors that led into the depths of the Apostolic Palace.

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It was said, at least in the ‘modern day’, that Cesare Borgia had the countenance of Christ and the eyes of Satan. And as Emma Whitmore faced the infamous warlord she almost let herself be overcome by fear. Almost. It took her a moment to remember that at this point in his life he was still nothing more than a cardinal and, if she had her way, he would be dead by this time tomorrow. But still, she found herself feeling somewhat intimidated by those cold eyes and his piercing stare. It mattered little that he was dressed in the crimson robes of a cardinal – he exuded confidence and gave over the impression that he would happily garrotte anyone for simply looking at him wrong.

He remained seated, lounging in a comfortable looking chair as he absently held a glass of wine between long fingers, and his head tilted /just so/ as he regarded her. It was obvious that he was practically undressing her with his eyes – it was well known just how much Cesare Borgia liked being between a woman’s legs.

“You say you wish me to meet an acquaintance of yours this evening, Madonna?” His tone gave over one of amusement, “Why not bring her here, to the Vatican?”

Emma gave a brief shake of her head, “She is not one for religion, my Lord. She is, however, interested in meeting you. And she has a proposal for you…”

“So she is a heretic, then?” He cut her off.

She couldn’t help the way her brow arched, her irritation beyond evident, “She simply holds a different belief system. As she knows you do not believe in the Holy Mother Church.”

The smirk that flitted across her features quickly dissipated as he got to his feet and stalked over, his hand darting out to wrap his fingers tightly about her slender neck. Had she been anywhere else other than Renaissance Italy she would have pulled a gun and shot him on sight. Except she wasn’t anywhere else and the only weapon she had on her was a dagger strapped to her leg. A dagger that wasn’t easily accessible. But still she reached for it, trying desperately to scramble beneath her velvet skirts. He noticed her struggle and the laugh that escaped the confines of his throat was chilling.

“You would dare speak to me in such a way?” He leaned in and whispered in her ear, “I’ll meet this friend of yours. And then I’ll make you suffer. Now…” He released her, sending her sprawling to the floor gasping for breath, “Be gone from my sight.”

Emma Whitmore stared up at him for a moment, her eyes flashing with utter hatred, before pulling herself to her feet and sweeping from the room in a flutter of skirts.

***
“More messengers?” Cesare exhaled a breath before absently waving a hand at his secretary, Agapito Geraldini, “Send them in, Agapito.”

The balding man bowed his head before gesturing the group into his master’s rooms. They were led by a tall man dressed in sumptuous finery, who was accompanied by two other men and a /very/ attractive young woman. He stood to greet them, “You are welcome here, friends. Please, take a drink with me and then we shall discuss business.”

The tall, dark haired man glanced towards his companions before taking a breath and standing up just a little bit straighter, “My Lord Cesare. I am Garcia Flynn. This is Lucy Preston, Rufus Carlin and Wyatt Logan. And we’re here to warn you that tonight, a group of people known as Rittenhouse is going to try and have you killed…”

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Rufus felt uncomfortable. It wasn’t the fact that he was in the Vatican, in a suite of rooms surrounded by splendour. It wasn’t the fact that he was dressed in a super uncomfortable pair of breeches and a doublet that stank of stale sweat and long nights spent in a whorehouse. It was the cold, demonic look of Cesare Borgia. The man’s eyes were dark and soulless, set in his stupidly handsome face, and you could just tell that this was a man who had committed the worst sort of atrocities. Lucy had filled them in on just some of the rumours when they had arrived in Rome, but she hadn’t been able to describe how just a look from Cesare Borgia made you want to run away screaming. And what was even more frightening, at least in Rufus’ mind, was that this man was a Cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church. An apparent man of God.

A shiver passed through his body when he realised that Cardinal Borgia was staring at him, “What? Is there something on my face? In my teeth?”

The Borgia Cardinal’s lips curled into a wry smile, “It is rare to see a free man of colour in this city. Rarer still that a man such as yourself would have such a….sense of humour.”

A man such as….? The comment had Rufus bristling and it took him a moment to remember both where he was and who he was speaking to. He supposed that casual racism was just as common as breathing in somewhere like this – hell, he’d come across it in so many ways since he started travelling through time with the rest of the team. He should be used to it by now. But it never really got any easier.

But Borgia’s attention had moved on now. His eyes roamed over Lucy, his cold eyes taking in the swell of her breasts beneath her corset. In an instant the mood in the room shifted – you could see the way Flynn’s body language changed. It was a silent warning for Borgia to back off. Even Lucy’s body language changed. Her cheeks had grown flush and she was wringing her hands – not something you would normally see Lucy Preston do. The woman had grown into a bit of a badass in the time since Rufus had known her and he could imagine her breaking Borgia’s nose if he did more than /look/.

Wyatt cleared his throat then, “Your /Eminence/” He used Cesare’s formal greeting as Cardinal of Valencia, “We’re here because we have intel….intelligence that says someone will try and kill you tonight…”

The Cardinal barked a laugh, “No one will try and kill me, Lord Logan. No one would even dare.”

“Be that as it may…” Flynn piped up, moving protectively towards Lucy, “I imagine you’ve just had a meeting with a woman by the name of Emma?” The way Borgia’s eyebrow shot up only confirmed that Flynn was right, “She is part of Rittenhouse. And she wants you dead. I can’t explain why…but there are those who will try and kill your brother tonight. She wants to make sure it’s you that ends up in the Tiber…”

The room fell silent for a moment before Borgia stood up suddenly, the legs of his chair scraping upon the beautiful tiled floor. His faced had turned a bright shade of red – and it reminded Rufus of a tomato, making him turn away to stare through one of the gorgeous windows before he burst out laughing. It took him a moment to realise that Wyatt was doing the same thing – just gazing at the window with an almost blank stare.

“I am planning to visit my mother’s vineyard tonight!” Borgia spat the words, “And I know full well that my brother Juan has invited this Emma along tonight. He /must/ be in on it…” His nostrils flared and he banged his fist upon the table, “I want all of you there with me tonight, do you hear me?! Especially…” His gaze once more settled on Lucy, “You. Meet me here at sundown and I will escort you to my mother’s home near to Santa Maria ad Vincoli. We will go together and make sure than what you say will come to pass, does not.”

***
Lucy breathed out a sigh as she sat at the old wooden table in one of Rome’s many taverns. Before her was a cup of strong wine, a jug of the stuff sat between the four of them. Next to her sat Flynn, his hand sat comfortingly upon her knee.

“Do you think we can stop this from going wrong?” Lucy reached for her cup of wine, lifting it to her lips and draining it in one.

Flynn refilled her cup before setting it down, a long sigh escaping from his lips, “I don’t know. We’re going to have to be very careful.”

Lucy’s head bobbed into a quick note, her sharp eyes moving between every member of the team, “Okay, so we’ll go to this dinner. I’ll stick with Cesare – I’m sure you noticed the way he was looking at me…”

Flynn bristled, “Do not let him lay a hand on you…”

“I won’t…” She reached for his hand beneath the table, “When it comes to leaving, we’ll make sure we’re careful. We’ll make sure Juan leaves with the masked man he’s supposed to. We’ve got this, guys. We have to make sure Cesare doesn’t die or it will change /everything/”

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{Vanozza Cattanei’s vineyard}

Lucy could feel the way Emma was glaring at her from across the table, the hatred in her very soul emanating from her very being. It had to be noted though, that Emma looked gorgeous in her silk gown with diamonds and rubies hanging about her neck – and Juan Borgia obviously thought so, too. He was practically glued to her side, whispering in her ear. The two laughed together, cold and callous laughter that chilled Lucy Preston to her bones. Lucy herself had made the effort to look nice, knowing that Cardinal Cesare Borgia would be expecting it. Her gown was a deep emerald colour, low cut and showing the swell of her breaths. About her neck hung a necklace hung with a large, perfectly shaped pearl and her chestnut hair was done up, held within a net of spun golden thread. Flynn had been speechless when he had seen her, reaching to take her in his arms and he had held her close, muttering that he thought she was the most beautiful woman in the world.

“Lucy is not a name I have heard before.” Vanozza Cattanei poured Lucy a glass of wine, smiling warmly at her. It was hard to believe that this woman was the mother of the infamous Borgia children, “And your accent, where are you from?”

“We’re from…” Lucy offered Vanozza a smile in return, “England…well…Wyatt, Rufus and I are. Garcia is from Europe…a small country called Croatia…”

Juan leant his elbows on the table and leaned forward, his eyes dropping hungrily to Lucy’s breasts, “You don’t sound very English to me. I think you’re lying.”

“That’s enough, brother.” Cesare snapped, “These people are my guests. I suggest you go back to fondling the Lady Emma beneath the table. Or I’m sure you could always take her to your chambers for a good pounding.”

Juan Borgia turned to his brother, his eyes narrowing, “That is the plan for /later/, brother. But for now we have a meal to enjoy and plenty of wine.”

Lucy shifted in her seat, feeling more and more uncomfortable by the second. She could see the masked man lurking behind Juan – just who the hell was he? It was a question that had plagued her since she had first begun researching the fascinating Borgia family. This was the man who was reported to leave the party with Juan and then, hours later Juan’s body would be fished up from the River Tiber. Was he a henchman of the Orsini clan who so despised Juan Borgia after the military failures of Bracciano? She reached for her wine with shaking hands, taking in every detail of the Venetian glass to try and calm her thoughts. The talk about them had shifted now – Cesare was talking enthusiastically with Rufus, questioning him about how it was he had been born free. He had never seen a man of colour be free before – he had thought that Rufus was Lucy’s servant. It was surprising to her that Cesare seemed so genuinely interested in Rufus and his story. She had always imagined the man to be particularly ruthless, a man who had no close friendships whatsoever. Yet here he was talking as if they were all old friends.

Vanozza reached across the table and patted Lucy’s hand, “Pay no attention to Juan. He has never been good with words. Rather he is impulsive, prone to flights of fancy and violence. But he’s a good boy, really. And his father loves him so. But tell me, Lucy, you are unmarried?”

“I…yeah…yes, I mean. Not married. Though courting, I guess you’d call it…” Her gaze shifted to Flynn and Vanozza’s eyes widened in realisation.

She clapped her hands and laughed brightly, “Oh that is wonderful. I trust you will marry this beautiful young woman one day soon, signore?”

Garcia Flynn froze for a moment, shifting to face the Borgia matriarch, “If I have my way, Madonna, I will make an honest woman of Lucy sooner rather than later.”

More wine was poured and the conversation turned to other matters. But all the while, Lucy Preston was trying desperately to think of a way to make sure than Juan Borgia would end up dead in the Tiber. This couldn’t fail. She wouldn’t let it.

***
“This is where we say goodbye, Brother.”

Juan’s voice echoed throughout the darkness as he brought his mount to a halt. There was promise in those words, words laced with violent intentions that made the hair on the back of Lucy’s neck stand up.

“The Lady Emma and I will take our leave. You!” He shot the masked man a command over his shoulder, “Come with us.”

“You’re riding about Rome in the dark without armour, brother?” Cesare snorted, “You are practically begging for death to take you.”

“My pageboy will fetch my light armour for me. Have no fear for my safety, Cesare. Perhaps you should fear for your own first.”

He left then, Emma sat on the back of his horse with her arms about his waist. As the sound of horse hooves got quieter, Lucy breathed a sigh of relief, “They’re going to double back…”

“Then we must be ready for them, my Lady. You say he will be coming back by the river, then we will meet him there. We may be family, but let me tell you, I would rather make sure he dies in place of me and risk my father’s wrath!”

***
Emma watched the team through the darkness, clinging to Juan as she sat behind him on the while palfrey. This was going to be more difficult than she thought – Cesare was definitely not going to continue the journey alone. Not only was he accompanied by those idiots, but his manservant Michelotto Corella was Cesare Borgia’s constant shadow.

But thankfully, she had a gun.

And if she had to, she would kill /all/ of them. She wouldn’t cry about it, wouldn’t feel a damn ounce of guilt. This was for the cause, after all. This was for Rittenhouse. And she’d make sure that Garcia Flynn watched as the light left his precious Lucy’s eyes before killing him too.

“Here” She reached beneath her voluminous skirts to where her gun was holstered, pulling it free and pressing it into Juan’s hand, “Use this. Just point it and pull the trigger. But leave Lucy for me. I want to make that pathetic little bitch suffer before you drop your brother’s lifeless corpse into that disgusting thing you call a river”

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Something felt wrong and it had the hair on the back of Cesare’s neck standing up. Rome was always busy, no matter what time of the day it was. But right now it was far too quiet. It was as if someone had made sure that the whores and reprobates had been cleared away, as if someone knew that dark deeds were about to be committed.

A dark scowl marred his features then and he raked fingers through his hair, turning to face his companions. It had surprised him just how much he liked these strange individuals, who seemed to know his entire life history and who seemed to know just what his brother was up to. He especially liked the one named Lucy – he would happily have taken her to his bed had the one called Flynn not been joined to her hip. The two were evidently lovers and he was evidently incredibly protective over her. Cesare Borgia was many things but he certainly wasn’t a fool, and there was something about Flynn that told the Cardinal he was dangerous. Not that it mattered all that much to Cesare. He was dangerous himself, after all.

“I don’t like this…” Cesare crossed his arms over his chest, “It’s too quiet. But what is to say that Juan hasn’t taken the Lady Emma back to his bed?”

At that, Rufus gave a snort, “She’s no lady. She’s like a demon. A demon who’s crawled up from the depths of hell…”

“You’re damn straight…” Wyatt – what sort of a name was ‘Wyatt? – agreed, fiddling with a loose thread on his doublet, “She’s killed too many and changed way too much history. Bitch even turned my /wife/ from me…”

The man’s demeanour seemed to crumble then, if only for a moment. And then it was as if a wall had gone back up. Was this Emma truly as bad as was being made out? She must be if she had decided to side with Juan and conspired to end his life.

“She needs to be stopped…” Lucy peeled herself away from Flynn’s side and stepped towards the cardinal, “If she…if /Rittenhouse/ gets their way and you end up dead, it will change everything and probably not for the better. It’s your brother who has to end up in that river, Cesare. Not you…”

There came a strange noise then, a clicking that seemed to echo through the humid night air. It had him freezing where he was, noting the way that Lucy’s eyes had widened in horror. And then there was that voice – a voice full of complete and utter amusement, a voice that spoke of violence towards innocents and hatred towards him.

“Hello, brother”

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“Hello brother”

The click of the gun echoed throughout the humid Roman night, the words of Juan Borgia hanging in the air like the sword of Damocles. Lucy froze where she stood, her eyes widening as the figures of Juan and Emma materialised out of the darkness. The gun was held in Juan’s hands whilst Emma stood back with her arms crossed, a smirk painted across her features. It was as if she knew she had won.

Something had to be done, and quickly. Yet fear materialised in Lucy’s soul, terror settling in the pit of her stomach. She couldn’t let this happen. If Emma managed to change history then what would change in the present? They would get back home and everything would be different – just as the time team had seen happen over and over again. She spared a brief look towards Cesare – there was no fear on his face at all. He stood there in his black velvet finery, sword hanging at his side, and all he did was smile. A cold smile that did not reach his eyes. A smile that promised the worst sort of violence.

“Our father would not countenance fratricide, brother.”

Juan’s head tilted just a little, the gun in his hand shaking, “Our father would not miss you, Cesare. You are /nothing/. I am the favourite son!”

Flynn began to edge away from Lucy’s side. With Juan and Emma’s attention on Cesare, it left an opening. A small one, but still an opening. Cesare’s eyes flickered towards Flynn just briefly and his eyes flashed with understanding. He had to keep his brother talking.

“The favourite son? You’re a laughing stock, brother. The whole of Rome thinks you are nothing more than a spoiled boy who plays at warfare. Your failure at Bracciano only proved just how much of an idiot you truly are!”

The gun shook harder this time as Cesare’s words began to have an effect. Juan Borgia knew that he was a failure – and his posturing was nothing more than a cover for it all. In truth he was little more than a scared boy playing at being a soldier. He knew it. The whole of Rome knew it. And Pope Alexander VI knew it. For the moment, the younger Borgia was lost for words. His mouth opened and closed as he tried to find a retort for his brother yet nothing came out. And silently Flynn edged around the back of him, his hand moving to the knife on his belt…

“Juan, just fire the goddamn gun!” Emma snapped, “Or give it to me and I’ll kill the bastard!”

“No! It has to be me!” the retort was practically screamed, the desperation evident in Juan’s voice. He stepped forward then, closer to Cesare, and his finger pressed on the trigger, “It has to be m…”

But his words were cut short, his eyes widening in shock as the gun fell from his hand and clattered upon the ground. His head dropped, eyes barely focusing on the blade that now stuck out from his chest. Then it was gone and he coughed, blood appearing on his lips before his legs gave out and he fell to the ground. Flynn, from where he had been standing behind the younger Borgia, casually wiped the blade on his doublet and turned to face Emma.

“I suggest you leave now. Before I kill you”

She was gone in a rustle of skirts, living to fight another day thanks to Flynn’s mercy. Mercy that confused Lucy – Emma Whitmore was the enemy and would have the opportunity to cause more issues now. All thanks to Flynn. She would speak with him about it at some point – questions flew around her mind regarding it, questions that she would have to voice. And one kept repeating. Had Flynn and Emma been lovers? Was that why he allowed her to leave?

Still, that would have to wait. She moved to Cesare, gently touching his arm, “You have to finish this, Cesare. Kill your brother and have him dumped in the Tiber. Leave his purse on him. Then cut the straps on his horse…”

Cesare nodded, just once. His cold eyes were focused on his brother as Juan’s lifeblood seeped out onto the cold stone ground. Yet when he spoke, he spoke to Lucy, “Thank you, Madonna. You and your friends will be rewarded for your help. Leave now, go to my palazzo in Trastavere. I will join you once the deed is done….”