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The Haunting

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Garcia stood in front of the sink in the bathroom with a towel wrapped around his waist. He blew out a tired breath as he wiped the steam off the mirror and looked at his reflection. It had been a long two weeks since Rufus had been saved, his gunshot wound was nearly healed. His shoulder still ached from time to time and he couldn’t sleep on it yet but the stitches were out. All of it was good but he was exhausted to the bone and melancholic.

He looked at his drawn features and the 2 weeks’ worth of growth on his face, he knew it was time to shave. He hoped shaving his face might pull him out of the melancholy he had been experiencing. But even as he stood there, he couldn’t quite bring himself to do it. The weight of the simple exercise weighing on him when he just wanted to escape. He closed his eyes and let the steam and heat surround him. He could let his mind drift to better times, to old memories. He remembered the way Lorena would come into their bathroom while he was shaving. The way she would embrace him from behind, her hands smoothing up his chest and slowly down.

He remembered how her body pressed up against his back, the way she would press a soft kiss to his back and rest the side of her face against his back. She’d whisper about normal mundane things like her plans for the day or issues with the house and what their daughter was up to. He missed her, the little things she did like that and he missed physical human contact.

Sometimes, when he stood in this dingy room and closed his eyes. He could pretend he was there again. Crazy as it sounded, it sometimes he felt the tactile sensations of that memory. He took a deep breath and sank into the memories, for a moment pressed his hand to his chest as if invisible hands, as if he were being embraced. He found that place of peace until it hurt as he remembered it wasn’t real and he was alone. He opened his eyes and pushed aside the grief and the pity he felt for himself. He needed a shave more than he needed to be stuck in his own head.

A loud banging sounded at the door, Garcia frowned and headed to the door. He pulled it open to find Wyatt. The shorter man glowered at him.

“Team meeting in 5.” Wyatt told him, with that he walked away. Garcia rolled his eyes at the man’s petulance. He didn’t get why Wyatt was being an ass to him. It wasn’t his fault Lucy rejected him. If anything, Garcia was relieved as Lucy could do better than Wyatt. She deserved to be happy. They all did. He closed the door to the bathroom and knew his shave would have to wait, he just hoped this meeting was worth his time.

 

**

Lucy laid in bed with the blankets over her head. She had moved into the storage room that they kept JFK in. Or tried to, as the kid escaped. It wasn’t a great space, in fact, she hated it with a passion but it was better than the couch in the living area. She wasn’t imposing on anyone and she didn’t have to worry about being watched like she was in the room she once shared with Jiya. She didn’t have to feel guilty about Garcia sleeping in his chair or on the floor.

She gave a frustrated sigh as she closed her eyes and wished she could sleep. She had been tossing and turning all night. Now, it was probably morning. She wished she had crawled through the air vent JFK used to escape to freedom than stick around. But sadly, she just hadn’t mustered the courage and motivation needed to crawl through a small space. But then, she lacked motivation for many things of late.

She had felt this way ever since she met her future-self and they saved Rufus. Unmotivated, exhausted and emotionally all over the place, she didn’t know how to get out of it. If she were honest she was just tired of being in grief. She spent years grieving her mother when she watched her slowly die from Cancer, then history changed. Lucy got back her mother, healthy only to lose Amy. If that weren’t enough, her mother was killed and Lucy had to experience it twice. It didn’t seem fair, Lucy fought so hard and felt like she was just losing all the damn time. That she couldn’t have some small glimmer of hope and joy to keep her going. There was nothing, and whatever glimmer she found was transient and usually snuffed out by Rittenhouse or some small alteration to the past before she could enjoy it.

It was why she was hiding under her blankets instead of getting up. She couldn’t see the point. If she did, she would spend the day with everyone staring at her in concern or telling her what to feel, or worse the alarm might sound. Then, the whole game of ‘stopping’ Rittenhouse would begin again.

A loud knock sounded at the door. Lucy curled herself up into a tighter ball under the blankets and scrunched her face up. The loud noise frazzling her nerves in an unpleasant manner.

“Get up, we’re having a team meeting.” Wyatt said in a loud curt tone through the closed door in an annoyed tone. Lucy expression turned dark as she couldn’t imagine what the point would be in having a meeting. “Luce!” he shouted, Lucy pulled blankets from her face.

“I heard you!” She shouted, though she wanted to tell him to get lost. She hated when he called her that stupid name. She was not ‘loose’ or ‘Baby’ or whatever stupid pet names they used to have. They were just work colleagues as far as she was concerned. She heard his footsteps fade away and she gave a relieved sigh. But her relief was short-lived as she pushed herself up.

She leaned over her knees and propped her head up on her elbows. Her fingers speared through her greasy hair; reminding her she needed to wash it. To put on a front that she was ‘ok’ to stave off concerns for her wellbeing.

She knew the others were well meaning but they didn’t get it. Garcia did, but she hadn’t wanted to burden him while he was healing. She wanted their friendship to be about them, not her perpetually dumping her baggage on him.

She had a lot of baggage since Wyatt opened his stupid mouth and declared he loved her. She might have been fooled until they went back to save Rufus, Lucy found out that Wyatt had tried to save Jessica. How he pleaded with Jessica to take him back, for them to be a family. It was ok, even expected.

But she was angry as Wyatt mislead her and belittled her. It was demoralizing to be the consolation prize when the wife walked out. Even worse, when Wyatt thought simply telling her that he loved her would just do the trick. She’d nearly been a sucker for it too but she knew better now. She just wasn’t handling it well, or anything else.

But now was not the time to dwell as she rose to her feet and threw on the last of her clean clothes. She moved to her door and took a deep breath; mentally telling herself she could do this. After a small mantra, she opened the door and headed to the kitchen.

When she got there, Rufus was already at the table half asleep with his head propped up by one elbow. He cracked open an eye and gave Jiya a grateful smile as she placed a fresh cup of coffee before him. Connor was in the kitchen making himself a tea. Denise, Garcia,  and Wyatt were the only ones missing. Denise, however, was at home sick with the flu.

“Morning.” Lucy said as she plastered on a smile. Rufus mumbled a reply while Jiya gave a small wave both looked too exhausted for words. But then they had been working up upgrades for the lifeboat.

“Morning, would you like a cup of tea?” Connor offered.

“Please.” She said as she sat down at the table. She was grateful when Jiya sat next to her. It saved her from Wyatt thinking he would weasel his way into her good graces through Stockholm syndrome.

“Does anyone know what this is about?” Jiya asked them, Rufus shook his head. Lucy thanked Connor as he placed her tea on the table.

“Probably some nonsense about a proper chore schedule.”  Connor remarked drily as he opposite Rufus; who sat at the other end of the table.

“You wanted the schedule.” Rufus said.

“I tried to have an equal division of labour but some parties were not good at adhering to it.” Connor drawled in a snide manner as he eluded pretty much all of them even himself. It was hard to keep a schedule when time travel was involved.

“No, we’re here for another reason.” Wyatt told them as he walked into the living area and headed to the kitchen.

“It couldn’t wait for the afternoon?” Rufus asked.

“No.” Wyatt said as he poured himself a cup of coffee and went about making himself some toast.

“Where’s Flynn?” Jiya asked.

“I’m here.” Garcia said as he casually strolled into the living area. He sat down in the chair opposite Lucy. He wore a bored expression as he pushed his chair back and crossed one leg over the other. His arms folded as he didn’t want to be here any more than the rest of them.

“Good, we can-Ow, damn it!” Wyatt exclaimed, the lights flickered for just a second. They looked at the man who was sucking on his thumb.

“We really need to get new fluoro tubes.” Rufus remarked casually, as the lights flicked again.

“Are you ok?” Connor asked Wyatt in a droll manner. Though given the ungodly hour they were up, Lucy couldn’t help but smother a smile. As they didn’t care if Wyatt was hurt given he was still standing and conscious. If anything, it was just desserts that he be tortured as they all felt.

“No. I plugged in the toaster and it zapped me. That’s the third time this week.” Wyatt complained as he picked up the oven mitt and used it to put his bread down into the toast. Lucy frowned as she wondered if Wyatt understood that cotton wouldn’t stop him from being electrocuted. But decided to say nothing as it was easier to let Wyatt learn from experience.

Instead, she surreptitiously drank in the sight of Garcia. He was handsome as ever as he wore his usual jeans and a burgundy linen shirt with the sleeves rolled up. His arm was out of the sling but he still had two weeks of stubble on his face. She had to admit, the scruff was sexy in the start but now it was becoming more a beard. Not bad, but not Garcia, he liked to maintain a clean-shaven look and she quietly preferred it that way too.

“I told you to turn off the power point and then plug in any appliance before you use it. Though the electrical system in the bunker has been wonky since 1888 mission.” Jiya remarked as she referred to the mission where they saved Rufus, not her.

“How about fixing it?” Wyatt asked her, Jiya and Rufus both wore strained expressions as they didn’t appreciate Wyatt’s demand.

“I can’t fix it. The wiring and fuse box really need to be replaced.” Jiya said, for a bunker the size that they reside in. It was a monumental task for two people.

“Then replace it.” Wyatt said as if it were simple.

“We’re not qualified electricians or plumbers and it’s not in the budget.” Jiya told him in a cutting tone. “Is this why we’re here? You want to renovate the bunker?” she asked him.

“It needs work, it seems like the place is falling to pieces. The plumbing is having fits and starts. Hot water seems to be a rare luxury than a given and the electricity is fritzing all the damn time. It shouldn’t be hard given you guys built a time machine.” Wyatt argued, Lucy couldn’t help but feel annoyed on Rufus and Jiya’s behalf. So much so, as she watched the smoke come out of the toaster; she remained quiet.

“We built part of the time machine, there was a whole team of people and your toast is on fire.” Rufus told him, Wyatt picked up a tea towel and started smacking the toaster that was now on fire.

They all knew they should help Wyatt put out the fire. But the burnt toast smell had been in the bunker all week and there was just something rather mesmerizing about the sheer stupidity before them.

Wyatt threw his coffee onto it which made the fire explode as the water in the coffee lit up the grease in the machine. Wyatt shouted his surprise as he backed off and continued to smack the toaster with the tea towel as if he were taming a lion. Unlucky for Wyatt, the tea towel started to catch fire. True to his character, he didn’t ask for help. There was a reluctance in the group to help him given he never seemed to appreciate it.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, may I introduce the best and brightest of US Army.” Connor drawled mockingly, taking one for the team; he rose from his chair. He pulled the fire extinguisher from the wall and extinguished the fire in seconds.

“That is the second fire in a fortnight.” Wyatt told them, as if they all didn’t know given there had been a burnt note to the air of the bunker since the first toaster fire.

“Agent Christopher isn’t going to be happy.” Garcia drawled, the others wore tired expressions and nodded in agreement.

“If we fixed the power this wouldn’t happen.” Wyatt pointed out.

“If you hadn’t turned on the toaster onto its highest setting then we wouldn’t have these little bonfires.” Connor informed him.

“I had it on three.” Wyatt said.

“It says five.” Connor told him as he pointed to the dial on the toaster which was indeed set to ‘5’, the highest setting of the toaster.

“You know, it seems like Wyatt is the one who’s breaking everything.” Lucy said, she couldn’t help but be a little petty at pointing the finger at him. But she had to get in her kicks when she could.

“It’s not me!” Wyatt said defensively.

“The toasters only commit harakiri around you.” Rufus pointed out.

“The toilet overflows when you use it.” Garcia remarked as he was usually stuck with the job of trying to fix that problem. Luckily, it was a simple fix and only clean water overflowed but one day, it wouldn’t be clean.

“We run out of hot water regularly after you use the shower.” Lucy added.

“The wiring in this place is shot. The toasters are fried by electrical surges. I can’t help it if the toilet overflows from time to time. It’s not my fault and I have cold showers cause all you get in before me. Ergo, none of it is my fault.” He said defensively.

“Really? The toaster thing is really simple. Turn off the power point, plug in toaster, turn power on. Then make certain toaster is set to the third hottest setting, insert toast. Done, no fires, just toast.” Jiya told Wyatt plainly as it was simple.

“Toilet; gently push the button. You don’t need to bash it down fast and bolt. The toilet only flushes at one speed which is not explosive. Same with the taps, just gently twist until the flow stops. You don’t need to wrench it every time.” Garcia informed him.

“Yes, we know you’re a strapping lad with muscles. But it would be nice for the washer to last more than a month.” Connor quipped. Wyatt gave him a dark look.

“Shorter showers.” Lucy said keeping her response short on how to fix the hot water dilemma.

“Seriously? You’re all blaming me?” he asked them incredulously. The others nodded as it was commonplace for them all to take turns lecturing the group about how to do things. But really the lectures were for Wyatt. The group tagged along so it didn’t seem like they were continually singling the man out.

“Tell us, who’s fault is it?” Rufus asked incredulously, but before Wyatt could respond Jiya spoke.

“I know, we have a ghost and Wyatt pissed it off. We’re just suffering as collateral damage to his punishment.” Jiya said mockingly.

“Yes, it would explain the lights flickering and the toaster fires.” Rufus mused.