April 15, 1912
Lucy was right. She had been totally, completely, one-hundred percent right. Dammit, he thought, teeth chattering uncontrollably as he clung to the small life jacket. I wish I was actually going to get the chance to tell her she was right.
It took every ounce of strength Wyatt had to simply force another shaky breath partially into his lungs. The icy cold water felt as if it were stabbing through his heart with every exhale, and he knew it was only a matter of minutes before its icy grip around his chest prevented any more.
He was under no false impressions that he would survive now that he was in the water. She had told him as much, and had openly chastised his assurances that everything would work just as they had planned. When, she had asked, have our plans ever gone off exactly the way they are supposed to?
She had been absolutely correct in her assessment of their situation back at Mason Industries. Her eyes had shown with fervent tears as she pleaded with him to find another way.
Wyatt, if we are on that boat when it steams out of Cherbourg YOU. WILL. DIE. There is NO way in which you survive this without a DAMN good plan.
And they had one. Or so he thought, but even he had not had the foresight to think someone would steal their bag from under their bed. The bag, containing their modern emergency raft and cold water dry suits, had inexplicably disappeared two days ago. Two days filled with theories, plots, plans, and ideas of how to escape a doomed ship with no success.
At one point Lucy was actually desperate enough to become a lookout to find a way to avoid the iceberg altogether, until Wyatt dutifully reminded her of their job to protect history at all costs. She had quieted at that, obviously torn by what it might cost her.
Might as well enjoy this while we can, Lucy, he had told her flippantly at dinner, mouth full of steak and waving his fork towards the elaborate crystal chandelier overhead. In about forty-eight hours this boat will be on the bottom of the ocean.
Her face had noticeably paled, and he had instantly regretted the comment. He had held her hand tenderly as he led her back to their room, relishing the opportunity to again play her husband. Their fictional cover story of a young married couple returning to the US after a European honeymoon had allowed him plenty of opportunities to publicly touch and caress her, but the second the door to their private quarters was closed her walls had returned.
Wyatt had thought they were headed towards…something. But then she had returned from her mother's house after another bomb was dropped and her world had been shaken to the core again. Needing to be her friend and her partner took precedence over investigating what was between them, and several weeks had passed in the meantime.
And now I'm going down with the Titanic, he thought ruefully. The boat had finally gone under several minutes prior, and remembering one of the key points from the famous movie Wyatt had tried to be one of the last people finally forced into the water. He knew he had only a matter of minutes, maybe ten, fifteen tops, before his body gave out on him and he went under for good. He was already too weak and in too much shock to get the stolen life vest around his body, and when he finally did release his grip he knew he would simply sink below the surface.
Lucy's face came unbidden to his mind. How pale her face had looked when he placed her into a life boat by herself, next to her new friend Molly Brown, making sure she had the key with her. The key Emma had so valiantly tried to find before the early stop at Cherbourg where she disembarked, unbeknownst to them until they were well over a day out of port. Lucy had raged at that revelation, turning her fear and frustration solely on Wyatt.
A small amount of warmth bubbled deep inside Wyatt as he remembered that night. Lucy had been beside herself, knowing they were in danger for absolutely no reason now that Emma was gone, as she put it, and he could easily read between the lines to know that she feared for him. She had given him the statistics, that the majority of the victims of the tragedy had been male thanks to the "save the women and children first" theory. She had been red-faced and pacing for several minutes, growing increasingly more agitated by the second, when he finally decided to intervene.
A simple hand on the shoulder would have sufficed, but instead he grabbed her somewhat roughly around the waist and spun her around into his arms, planting his mouth firmly over hers. She hesitated at first, most likely from shock, but quickly melted into him and returned the passionate kiss.
It will be okay, Lucy, he had told her softly, smoothing her hair back from her face as tears began forming in her eyes. It will be okay. She had tried to speak but he had shushed her with another kiss, not wanting to let the moment get away. The remainder of the night was spent wrapped in blankets on the floor in front of the glowing fireplace, taking comfort in each other and taking advantage of the moment.
The warmth of that night with Lucy couldn't warm him now though. His body was struggling even more to breathe, and he suddenly realized he hadn't taken a breath while dreaming of her. His chest heaved violently, and his lungs felt like they were frozen from the inside out.
AAggghhhh, his frustration rang out in a garbled cry, a frozen whisper amongst the watery graveyard he was now floating in. The cacophony present immediately after the ship went under was growing increasingly quieter as the minutes ticked away, adding to the eeriness and inevitability of the moment.
Lucy, he whispered silently. I'm so sorry. Please forgive me.
She was going to be pissed, and rightly so. He would feel the same way if the roles were reversed, and knew pissed wouldn't even begin to describe her turmoil. He had never hit a woman before, at least not one that wasn't trying to hit him back, and to hit the woman he loved seemed unthinkable only an hour ago. But he knew she would never leave him alone on a doomed and sinking ship, not willingly anyway, and he had to make sure she survived. So he did the unthinkable.
He had placed her, unconscious, into the boat next to Molly, who had taken an instant liking to Lucy earlier in their trip. Naturally, from one independent woman to another, they had formed a quick bond, and she had commented several times on what a good match Wyatt was for her. His wild eyes when he brought her to the boat unconscious had told Molly everything she needed to know, and she had instantly promised to look after Lucy. He had kissed her forehead, then was forced to step back and watch as the boat lowered to the surface without him.
Knowing she was safe had made staring down his impending death much easier. She would get to New York in a few days on the Carpathia, meet up with Rufus at their agreed upon rendezvous point, and they could grieve together when they got home. But she would make home.
His eyes were growing heavier by the minute, the growing silence finally enveloping him into a peaceful half-slumber. His lungs were no longer fighting for air, instead content with small jerky gasps every few seconds. The cold was beginning to feel not-so-cold, and he could see a faint light in the distance, drawing him closer.
He let go.