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Friends in Time

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The Bunker
A couple of years into the apocalyptic future

She was tired.

Lucy closed her eyes, stretching her hands above her head feeling her spine crack in a satisfying fashion. The ache in her shoulders lessened but nothing could ease the ache in her heart. This wasn’t the type of tired that a good night's sleep, or a mug of coffee, could cure. It was a bone-deep weariness that had everything to do with the world outside the bunker - the world that they had failed.

Rufus was dead. Connor was dead. Agent Christopher was dead. Jiya was dead. The time machine - the lifeboat - looked more like a warship now than a ship of mercy but then hadn’t it always been a warship? The outside reflected its real purpose, the rugged armor protecting the delicate components, which was a good thing. There was just the three of them of them now - two soldiers and a historian. If the lifeboat broke then they were done because none of them knew how to fix it.

“Like that matters,” Lucy muttered.

She paced up and down next to the monitors, waiting for a ping, a call to arms at a point in history. She couldn’t sit, she couldn’t settle. In the distance she could hear Wyatt shouting, and something smashing. She never heard Flynn, he vanished silently into his room, and said precious little when he was out of it. What was there to say? They were running on emergency mode, responding to the fires that Emma set whenever she pleased through history. Always reacting, always late which was ironic, and it was never enough.

The bunker looked the same as it always had. She could almost kid herself that nothing had changed, that at any moment she would hear the screech of the hatch as Agent Christopher arrived, she would hear Rufus and Jiya bickering about Star Wars or Trek or whatever it was, but it was an illusion, a trick of the mind because everything had changed.

Outside the world more readily resembled a dystopian blockbuster movie than it did the twenty-first century they’d left one day. Chaos creeped, seeds of anarchy drifted through the ages. Rittenhouse - Emma - they had won in the end as a limited nuclear exchange and resulting economic depression shaped the world. Nothing they did in the past undid what happened. She had tried charting how it had come to this, history and creating a narrative of cause and effect was her speciality after all, but no matter how much she tried she couldn’t theorise a way to fix it.

“Lucy!” Wyatt bellowed. “Lucy!”

“I’m in here,” Lucy called, twisting round to see Wyatt stride round the corner. She frowned, seeing him coiled tighter than a spring was normal, seeing him move with this much purpose wasn’t. “Has something happened?”

“I know what we need to do!” Wyatt shouted triumphantly.

Lucy frowned, relieved to see Flynn quietly appear behind him. He leaned against the wall, arms folded, wearing a frown to match.

“We go back …” Wyatt paused, his eyes twinkling. “And stop Connor Mason from ever inventing time travel.”

Flynn snorted. “That’s your big idea? I think you’ve been hit over the head a few too many times.”

Wyatt shot Flynn a dirty look and turned his back on the other man. Lucy licked her lips nervously, feeling the weight of Wyatt’s full attention. He looked so earnest and she felt the remnant of the awkwardness she would have once felt. Back before all this started she would have wanted to let him down gently, aiming more for constructive than outright dismissal, perhaps it was the teacher in her. However, now she was more willing to agree with Flynn - it was an idiotic suggestion.

“Think about it Lucy. I know it’s the nuclear option because everything that happened since day one with the lifeboat is wiped away…”

“Aren’t you forgetting we can’t travel back within our own lifetime?” Flynn interrupted.

“You could get your sister back,” Wyatt persisted, continuing as if Flynn hadn’t interrupted. “This apocalyptic future would be gone.”

“We’d be dead,” Flynn interjected.

“Will you shut up!” Wyatt snapped, twisting to glare at Flynn.

Lucy’s eyes flickered between them, it was like refereeing a tennis match. Flynn wasn’t wrong but his points were somewhat irrelevant and they all knew it. All of them would gladly give their lives to destroy Rittenhouse. The problem was that Wyatt’s suggestion wouldn’t do that, in fact hitting the reset button would only strengthen their enemy.

“Rittenhouse existed before time travel. They are the ones that prompted Connor Mason to invent the time machine. If we convinced Mason Industries to get out of the time travel business, it’ll just be someone else,” Flynn explained simply, his tone that of talking to a small child. Lucy winced, Wyatt looked thunderous. “And besides,” Flynn continued. “In case you’ve forgotten Rittenhouse killed my wife and daughter before they had the power to travel through time.”

“Flynn’s right,” Lucy said. Wyatt snorted, his face twisting into stubborn resentment. “It doesn't seem like it but right now Rittenhouse is the weakest it’s ever been…”

“The world has gone to hell!” Wyatt roared. “Or have you not taken a look outside this bunker lately?”

“It’s about infrastructure,” Flynn picked up. “Rittenhouse is all but destroyed. When Emma killed the … previous leaders, she didn’t know enough to take over. All that’s left is one intelligent but probably slightly insane woman with a time machine. We hit the reset button and Rittenhouse is restored to its heydey, with all the funding and agents and resources at their fingertips.”

“You make it sound like we’re winning, but we’ve already lost,” Wyatt shot back but his heart wasn’t in it. He crumpled into himself, the fight going out of his eyes. Wearily he ran a hand through his hair, and paced in a tight circle, and Lucy’s heart ached for him.

They were all desperate and willing to try anything, to do whatever it took to bring about a better world than the nightmare existing above them. She felt his frustration and it hurt all the more because she didn’t have a better idea. They needed to do something, they couldn’t keep on trying to put out Emma’s fires, as the world descended further into an apocalyptic wasteland.

“It probably wouldn’t be possible anyway,” Lucy murmured. “We can’t use time travel to wipe out time travel, because if we did that then we’d never have gone back, so time travel would exist …”

“You’re giving me a headache,” Flynn noted dryly.

“Paradoxes are like that,” Lucy joked weakly.

“Destroying the time machine is the goal Wyatt, we just need to do it now,” Flynn offered conciliatorily.

“And how does that fix what’s out there?” Wyatt gestured violently towards the hatch.

“It doesn’t,” Lucy admitted hollowly.

Wyatt growled in frustration and stormed off. Lucy met Flynn’s eyes, and saw sympathy reflected. He didn’t say anything else either, there wasn’t anything left to say, and he wandered back in the direction of his room. Lucy heard Wyatt start on the punching bag and she pinched the bridge of her nose. Truthfully she wasn’t sure there was a way to fix what was out there. Perhaps the best they could hope for was to prevent Emma from making it worse, and then hoping the world recovered on its own.

Lucy snorted, memories of Rufus coming to mind, she knew what he would say. Rufus would optimistically wonder if the Federation was in their future, and remind them that the Trek world had been dark before the dawn of space travel. It was a nice dream, unrealistic and fictional, but hope was in short supply right now and until they had a ping - or she came up with a plan - it was all she had to hold onto.

*****

The Bunker
Present Day

“So do you want to get Rufus back or not?”

Lucy blinked, and then blinked again. She felt like rubbing at her eyes, or pinching herself, because what she was seeing couldn’t be reality. However, no matter how many times she squeezed her eyes shut and then opened them, the vision in front of her didn’t change. There really was a second lifeboat, which was larger from all the armor plating covering it, and there really was a version of herself standing in the hatch. She really just had heard herself speak.

She would never admit it but she had sort of got used to time travel. ‘Just another day at the office’ sounded blasé but it was kinda like that. Even with her love of history, seeing incredible moments in the past had become almost routine - this was anything but routine. The one inviolate rule of time travel - or so they had thought - was that a traveller couldn’t return to a time within their own lifetime. That had always been a little suspect given Flynn’s assertion that he’d seen a future version of her, and that this future version had given him the journal which had started his crusade against Rittenhouse through time.

It wasn’t that she hadn’t believed him because she had, whatever else Flynn had been he hadn’t lied to her, it’s just it had seemed too fantastical. Well it wasn’t fantastical, or theoretical, anymore - it was real and it was right in front of her, she was right in front of her.

“Are you as freaked out as I am right now?” Wyatt asked quietly.

Dumbly Lucy nodded. Their duplicates, or future selves, or … she was getting a headache, seemed to have anticipated this stunned reaction. Was that because they’d been in their shoes? How would that even work? She was giving herself a headache now, her brain imploding at the impossible manifesting in reality. To distract herself she focused on the mundane, Flynn had said she was about five years older and had looked good, he hadn’t mentioned she’d been going through a Lara Croft phase. Her hand drifted up to her hair, future her had cut it short, an idea she’d toyed with for the convenience but rejected due to the time travel. It was hard enough trying to fit in the past as a woman sometimes.

“How have you not exploded?” Connor Mason blurted out.

A wry grin crossed the future Wyatt’s face but Lucy focused on her own expression. How her eyes flickered down, the puff of air that escaped her lips, acknowledgement of the question, and then the blazing look in her eyes that spoke of defiance.

“They don’t care,” Lucy murmured.

Her future self nodded, making Lucy blink in surprise as she didn’t think she’d spoken loudly enough to be heard. “We’ll only explode if we go back because that timeline doesn’t exist anymore but as that’s the goal, it’s ok.”

“How is it ok that you are on a one-way trip?” Agent Christopher asked carefully.

Future Wyatt’s face screwed up and future Lucy shrugged, and Lucy understood. The future wasn’t worth saving. The warlike lifeboat, and the practical soldier look the two future time travelers had, made a lot of sense in that context. Whatever the next few years - or rather their last few years had been like - they hadn’t been easy.

“You can get Rufus back so long as you avoid a paradox,” future Lucy said. “If any of your past selves see you, then it’s game over, but we talked about it extensively and we think it can be done.”

Future Wyatt nodded. “You can…”

“Why didn’t you go back for him then?” Wyatt demanded.

“We did,” future Lucy admitted simply. “But as you can tell the future didn’t exactly work out. You have a chance to get Rufus back and fix the apocalypse that became the future.”

“How?” Flynn asked, speaking up for the first time since the second lifeboat had shimmered into existence.

“Can I get a beer?” future Wyatt shrugged. “Future ran out of beer. Plus this feels like an interrogation.”

“Maybe because it is,” Wyatt said waspishly.

Lucy frowned. She was curious and a tiny bit scared when it came to her future counterpart. The future was supposed to be uncertain, but it felt all too real and all too unhappy, and while they’d said that they’d changed things just by coming here and it didn’t have to be that way, it was still far too close for comfort. Perhaps that’s where Wyatt’s anger was stemming from, he was scared of what he was seeing, or freaked out as he’d put it. Coming face to face with your future self was certainly an emotional wrecking ball.

She watched as her future self put a restraining hand on future Wyatt’s shoulder, preventing him from lashing out and kickstarting an argument between the Wyatt’s. Lucy pinched the bridge of her nose. Time travel gave her a headache if she thought about it too much, and this was migraine-inducing. What was she supposed to even call herself, other Lucy?

By mutual silent consent they moved the few feet into the living room area of the bunker. Wyatt threw his future self the beer he requested, glaring at him as he lounged back on the couch like he belonged there. Future Lucy remained standing, her hands rubbing together, she was nervous but then Lucy reasoned this was new territory for all of them. Her hands drifted together mirroring the motion. After all if the future was that bad, then there was a lot riding on this conversation.

“You were going to tell us how we can save Rufus,” Connor prompted. He shook his head. “I still don’t see how that is possible.” he gestured between them all. “How this is possible.”

“What happened to the rest of us?” Jiya piped up. Future Lucy winced and future Wyatt set his jaw. Jiya held up her hands in surrender. “Forget I asked, I don’t want to know.”

“Rufus,” Agent Christopher repeated.

“After Emma kills … Carol and Nicholas, Rufus leaves the photographers first. You can get him alone, slip him a blood pack and tell him to play along,” future Lucy explained. She reached behind her, withdrawing a gun from where it had been tucked in the small of her back. “Emma’s gun was just like this. You can get her alone at the same time, two blocks over in an alley. Knock her down, swap the gun, everything has to happen the same way. You saw Rufus die, he has to die, but it’ll be fake because it always was.”

“No.” Lucy shook her head.

From the moment her future self had asked if they wanted to get Rufus a kernel of hope had ignited inside her. She didn’t want to put it out but there was a problem with the scenario they’d laid out. If they had already gone back and got Rufus once, they had done all this but he’d gone back with them, presumably to die as he wasn’t with them now. There wasn’t a Rufus left in the past for them to save.

“You already did it,” Flynn picked up, echoing her thoughts. “So how can we do the same. Besides.” he gestured with his free arm to the sling he was wearing. “Those weren’t fake bullets.”

Future Wyatt laughed. “Yeah you’re going to have do that, one of you shoot him, in the chaos it won’t be noticed that it didn’t come from Emma’s gun. She was shooting, you were shot, two and two make four.”

“Oh and I bet you were so willing to volunteer,” Flynn said dryly. “Well don’t bother, I’ll do it myself.”

“That’s what you said last time.” Future Wyatt snorted.

“Back to the issue of you already having gone back,” Lucy prompted.

“We haven’t because we’re here and so you won’t - I think,” future Lucy said, her eyes crossing a little. “Anything that happened in the next five years hasn’t happened, there’s been a reset.”

Agent Christopher sighed. “Oh I really hate time travel.”

Laughter flowed round the room like a mexican wave. It wasn’t forced but it wasn’t felt either, this was after all the day that Rufus had died, or they thought he had up until five minutes ago. It was the day her mother died, though she tried not think about that as she wasn’t sure how she felt, or perhaps more accurately how she should feel. Lucy chewed on her lip, it was like having emotional whiplash. As welcome as this intrusion by their future selves might be if it made for a better future, it meant today was on overload. It was all getting to be too much.

“Erm guys.” Jiya raised her hand hesitantly. “Not to point out the elephant in the room again but how were you flying the lifeboat? Did one of you train as a pilot?”

Lucy’s stomach sank. Future Wyatt was staring at his beer bottle which was never a good sign. Her future self wouldn’t meet Jiya’s eyes either. Whatever the answer was, she had a horrible feeling it wasn’t as simple as either of them training as a pilot and she really didn’t want to know. She’d had enough of today, she couldn’t cope with anything more.

*****

The Bunker
A year or so into the apocalyptic future

Jiya hummed lightly under her breath, her hands rewiring the delicate component in front of her with ease. The time machine’s trip into the past, and then time travelling the long way round to get back to the present, had done a number on pretty much every component. Plus Emma wasn’t shy about spraying them down with bullets. The outside of the lifeboat was now heavily armored because if they broke down in the past, there would be nobody coming to rescue them. It wasn’t like before, with the protocol of burying the bottle, there was nobody left - they were on their own.

Her hands stopped, Jiya held her breath and froze, another vision of the future stealing over her. A beat later she let out a shaky breath and continued with the wiring. Anyone looking at her from behind wouldn't even know anything had happened, she had got so good at controlling them. That was perhaps a mistake. Jiya sighed, the others didn’t understand. She wasn’t losing herself like Stanley had - not yet - but the visions were increasing. She hadn’t ‘seen it’ but she knew in her bones that one day she would lose herself in time. If only Rufus had lived…

She tensed, a vision of Rufus flashed into her mind; she could feel his arms around her, feel her arms around him, feel his solid warmth beneath her palms, smell the hint of his aftershave as she pressed her face into his neck. Jiya blinked and set her jaw. Those were the worst visions, the ones taunting her with what would never be because Rufus was dead! He was dead and he wasn’t coming back. They had saved him once but the second time, the second time there was no chance of a do-over. She got the same damn vision of them hugging every time she thought about Rufus living, or the fact that he was dead, and it hurt! Quite frankly the universe couldn’t hurt her more if it was stabbing her because that’s what it felt like, being stabbed in the heart.

“You know I think you’ve replaced every wire in that thing,” Flynn commented.

Jiya hesitated for a moment before turning. Flynn was leaning back against the computer desk, his arms folded and expression carefully blank.

“I have, this is an upgrade.” Jiya straightened before continuing. “For the AI.”

“I thought we’d agreed …” Flynn said slowly.

You agreed,” Jiya interrupted.

She shook her head, the feeling bubbling up inside her that now was the time to ask. Since her visions had started she had learned to trust her instincts. They had been screaming at her for the past few weeks, causing her to work every waking minute and sometimes when she should have been sleeping. Time was running out. She was the only pilot. Every time they went out was a risk and given the dystopian future they were now living, it was past time for the others to get with the program.

“Lucy would never agree I knew that. Wyatt … I wasn’t sure about Wyatt but I knew he’d hate it. It’s you I can’t figure out."

“Why’s that? Because I used to be the bad guy?” Flynn asked, arching an eyebrow. “Well I do hate to disappoint but there is a heart in here somewhere.”

He tapped his chest and Jiya rolled her eyes.

“I know that, I didn’t say that you’d like it but I thought you’d understand the necessity.”

“I do.” Flynn nodded. “I just don’t think we’re there yet.”

Jiya blinked, every muscle in her body tensing as a hundred images flashed in front of her eyes. When she came back to herself Flynn had moved, his hand hovering an inch from her upper arm as if he wasn’t sure whether he should touch her or not.

“I’m fine,” Jiya said quickly, although her pounding heart begged to disagree.

It would be today.

And indeed just a few hours later the lifeboat thumped back into existence. Wyatt leapt out of the door, sprinting towards the medkit. Flynn carried her out, laying her gently onto the bunkers concrete floor. Lucy’s bloodstained hands pressed hard into her side, desperately trying to apply pressure but there was already too much blood, so much blood pooling around her, choking her and she was cold.

“Get it, get it,” Jiya hissed, meeting Flynn’s eyes.

He didn’t hesitate; he had surprised her by taking the risk because what if she hadn’t made it back? If she had died then the ‘last resort’ would just be a useless box of tech at the bunker. She had to be alive for it to work.

“What the hell?” Wyatt roared, skidding to a halt, the medkit in his hands.

“There’s no time,” Flynn snapped, gently cradling her head as he slipped the helmet she had designed on her.

Jiya closed her eyes, concentrating on her breathing, trying to hang on just a little longer even as she felt the life seeping out of her. This whole thing had been her idea. There was no auto-pilot on the lifeboat as no AI was intelligent enough to make the adjustments. However, an AI built from a human consciousness? especially hers which could connect to points in history - that would work. It should have been impossible but then before Mason Industries they’d said the same about time travel. Connor would never have let her build it. He would never have accepted her dying as a possibility but Connor was long dead, and she was dying, so if the electrical feedback finished her off before the blood loss it didn’t matter.

She heard Wyatt cursing. She felt Flynn gently touch her hand. He was warm. He said something but he was so far away and then she felt the switch flick. Jiya arched her back, her eyes rolling back so just the whites of her eyes could be seen.

“Rufus,” Jiya whispered.

He was there. He was real. Her death and their resurrection.

She could see it all.

*****

The Bunker
Present Day

In the end they’d taken a day to prepare, to deal with the monumental shock of having a visit from the future. Future Lucy had known that was how her younger self, and the younger versions of the team, would handle things. It would have been foolish to have left to get Rufus immediately. In her timeline they’d taken a day before going back for Rufus but that was because it had taken them a day to think of it. Their younger selves were leaving about the same time they had originally - just as expected.

“I do love it when a plan comes together,” Future Wyatt murmured as they watched Jiya, Wyatt and Flynn climb into the lifeboat.

Future Lucy glanced over to where her younger self stood. Lucy was fidgeting lightly, standing with Connor and Agent Christopher. There were only four seats in the lifeboat, one of them needed to be left empty for Rufus and Jiya needed to get them there. Wyatt refused to stay behind and Flynn was insisting on being the one to shoot himself. Future Lucy bit her lip, resolutely not looking at future Wyatt. Given everything she knew, Flynn’s insistence was quite understandable.

“We should …” future Wyatt coughed.

“Yeah ok,” Future Lucy agreed, resisting the urge to glance at her watch. They weren’t entirely sure how tight the timeline was so they did need to hurry.

She followed Future Wyatt through the living area of the bunker, absently feeling the slight pop as they air pressure changed when the lifeboat left. As the Kennedy incident had proven their younger selves didn’t know every inch of this bunker. They were going to use that fact to their advantage. At the end of the corridor which housed the bedrooms and bathroom was the storage room where they’d once tried to hold the young Kennedy. At the other end of the corridor was the hatch leading to the surface. Nothing that would help them there, it was the other side of the bunker that contained their ace in the hole.

They’d found it by accident one day. Wyatt and Flynn had been fighting, a full mug of coffee had been smashed on the floor and a wall proved not to be as solid as it looked.

“You ready?” Future Wyatt checked, his hand hovering over the hidden switch.

“Let’s do this.” Future Lucy nodded.

Future Wyatt pressed the lever, which was deceptively small and all but invisible underneath the cereal shelf in the cupboard. There was a click, and then a loud clunk as the door mechanism flared to life.

“Hey guys,” Future Wyatt shouted. “You’re going to want to see this. It’s a cool secret door we found in the … future past.”

“A secret door?” Connor asked, hurrying over.

Future Lucy felt a pang, they’d had their differences especially at the beginning but it was times like this that she could see the inventor in Connor, see the man who had been lost under everything money and fame had brought him. However his enthusiasm was a mere echo of what Rufus would be like. Future Lucy felt a smile tug at the corner of her lips. She couldn’t wait to see it.

"Yeah and you won't believe what's inside," Future Wyatt teased.

He kept one hand on the wall-door, blocking the way until Agent Christopher and Lucy arrived. He then gave it a light push, the weight making it swing slowly open as he stepped out of the way. Connor hurried inside and Future Lucy's heart leapt into her mouth, pounding in her ears as each second stretched on, making it seem like everything was happening in slow motion, like there were dozens of frantic heartbeats in between Connor's entrance and then Agent Christopher and Lucy following him inside.

It was only a small room, there was a cork-board with some old pieces of paper pinned to it, a filing cabinet which had turned out to be mostly-empty apart from a half-drunk bottle of scotch, and a heavily scarred wooden table. It was a secret meeting room, security through obscurity because vaults could be broken but thieves couldn't steal what they didn't know was there. If they didn't step fully inside ... if they were too close to the entrance ... future Lucy felt sick and sweaty - if this didn't work?

Future Wyatt swung the door closed. There was a muffled shout, future Lucy caught the aborted flicker of movement as Agent Christopher turned and moved to stop them but fortunately they had been fast enough. There was a bang as Agent Christopher collided with the door a second after it clicked shut. Future Lucy let out an exaggerated breath.

"That was way too close."

"We always knew it would be." future Wyatt shrugged.

"I know but ..."

Chapter Text

Future Wyatt winced. He glanced to his hand, to the wooden chopping board he was holding and threw it back down onto the counter. It had been the first thing that had come to hand. Future Lucy - his Lucy - lay crumpled on the floor where she had fallen. He closed his eyes at the trickle of blood forming at her temple and crouched down, carefully gathering her up into his arms, carried her the few feet to the couch and arranged her comfortably.

He cupped her face with his hand, an anguished expression on his face. "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry, but you never would have agreed."

For a long moment he stayed there, frozen, and then abruptly he moved, striding with purpose towards the armory. He had no idea how much time he had. All of this would be for nothing if he wasn't in position. He selected a pistol, slamming the clip home and racking the chamber while he strode back to the time machine room. Future Wyatt dropped to one knee, resting his arm on the table, his gun unerringly pointing at the empty space where the time machine usually stood. His breathing normalised.

It was a waiting game now.

Time ticked by and future Wyatt started to sweat. He'd had more than enough practice at hitting people to know how much force to use to knock them out. Knocking out his Lucy though had been difficult, as two instincts battled inside of him, and he was concerned that he might have erred on the side of caution. He really hadn't wanted to hurt her. If she woke up too soon ... if Connor or, more likely in his opinion, present-day Lucy, found a way out of that room before ... he shook his head and tightened his grip on the pistol. He'd cast the dice and he just had to trust it would work out. There wasn't anything else he could ...

The air shimmered, there was a thud and the pressure changed. Future Wyatt felt like laughing in in sheer relief. Everything was going to work out. There was a hiss as the door opened. He lined up his shot, his target ducked their head to step out - bang! The bullet hit Emma between the eyes, she tumbled out of the mothership like a ragdoll with the strings cut.

"Don't shoot!" Future Wyatt yelled. He dropped the gun, standing up and raising his hands. "Jessica it's just me. It's just me here."

"Wyatt?" Jessica leant out of the mothership, her brow furrowing in confusion. "What ..."

"Don't worry about the others," future Wyatt interrupted soothingly, tears prickling at his eyes. "They aren't here. It's just me, just you and me."

He stepped round the desk, drinking in the sight of his wife. When he'd decided on this course of action he'd felt peaceful for the first time in years - first time ever perhaps. He'd buried Jessica twice, this was their third time lucky and he was determined everything would work out this time. For a while he'd entertained hopes about Lucy but that had just never worked out. He'd professed his feelings repeatedly but she had always demurred. When she refused him after he buried Jessica, and Flynn died, he'd known that it was a lost cause. It was just the two of them at the end of the world - he was literally the last available man on Earth given how they were trapped in the bunker, and she still didn't return his feelings. So he'd had to come up with his own plan.

"I can't help you rule the world but we can still have a good life, a life together if you want it."

Future Wyatt took another step, until he was directly in front of the mothership, looking up at Jessica. He held out his hand, begging her to take it with his eyes, begging her to give them one last chance at a happy ending.

*****

Her head hurt.

Future Lucy groaned quietly and screwed her eyes shut. With her left hand she explored her surroundings, she patted the soft material wall of the cushion, and a slight shift of her body confirmed she was laying on the couch. With her other hand she gingerly reached up to touch her aching head. What had happened? She didn't remember laying down, in fact the last thing she remembered was standing by the door to the secret room.

Clutching her head, and wincing, future Lucy opened her eyes and carefully sat up. The world didn't spin but a fresh flash of agony cut through her eyeballs. She hissed feeling the sticky spot on her temple and glared at the blood coating her fingertips. If the mothership had arrived they would have heard it - she would have felt it - and she wouldn't have been blindsided so completely. Somebody had hit her from behind but the only other person here was ... Wyatt.

"Oh Wyatt what did you do?" future Lucy murmured under her breath.

The air thrummed and popped. Future Lucy's head snapped round, adrenaline pumping, but it was just the lifeboat returning. She breathed a sigh of relief and staggered to her feet. Black spots danced in front of her eyes, she blinked them away and then blinked again. For a moment she had thought the lump on the ground was just her eyes. Bile flooded her throat. She lurched forward, absently hearing the hiss as the lifeboats door opened, the body was face-down in a pool of blood. Future Lucy swallowed convulsively. It was Emma, just as planned, but the blood pool and the body was too much deja-vu for her mind to cope with. She had seen far too many bodies on this floor.

"What the hell?"

Future Lucy looked up. Rufus' head was poking out of the door and he looked baffled. Obviously having heard him she saw movement behind Rufus, and a moment later Wyatt was at the door, a deep frown etched on his face. He jumped down and rolled the body over, exposing the bullet hole between Emma's eyes.

Wyatt glanced sharply at her. "Your work?"

"Yours actually," future Lucy said sardonically. She gestured to her bloody head. "This too. You'll find the others in the secret room. The catch is underneath the cereal shelf."

"There's a secret room?" Rufus asked, as Wyatt left to retrieve the others.

"Can we get back to the dead woman on the floor," Flynn prompted.

"I would also like to know why you locked us in a room," Agent Christopher demanded icily as she approached.

Future Lucy pinched her nose. Her head was throbbing, she was too groggy for this and struggling to make sense of it herself. They'd had a plan but Wyatt - the Wyatt from the future - had obviously never intended to see it through. He'd had his own agenda and she should have seen it coming.

"It was to keep you safe," future Lucy explained. "We told you, we went back for Rufus ourselves, and if we hadn't come back then you would have done it just as we did, well because we'd be the same."

"So Emma used the mothership to infiltrate the base in your timeline too," Agent Christopher said slowly.

"Of course the timelines aren't that different yet," Connor reasoned. "You know..."

"You knew they were coming and you didn't say anything?" Wyatt interrupted accusingly.

Future Lucy grimaced and looked round. Rufus looked confused, and she wondered how much the others had managed to tell him; he kept looking between her and Lucy like he couldn't believe his eyes. Jiya was standing at the back, watchful like always, and Flynn too was keeping his own counsel but she could see his quick eyes flickering, taking everything in and knowing him he'd work it out if he hadn't already. She met his eyes and the stab of sympathy she saw in them proved her correct.

"It was supposed to be an easy ambush." future Lucy gestured to Emma's body. "It looks like it was, and this was supposed to be the end of it. Emma dead, the mothership in our hands, Rufus saved. This was the moment, the key moment that everything could be changed for the better because it's when everything went wrong last time."

*****

The Bunker
Present day in the alternate apocalyptic timeline

They had done it! And they really needed to put another seat in this thing. Lucy couldn't contain the grin spreading across her face seeing Rufus at the controls of the lifeboat, back where he belonged. Jiya was strapped into the seat closest to him, her hand resting on his shoulder, like she wanted to make sure he was really there. It was miraculous really. They had all seen Rufus die, except he hadn't - he never had. It had been an illusion, a play that they had staged for their own younger selves benefit, so as to avoid a paradox. Flynn had shot himself, providing 'proof' that Emma was shooting with real bullets, Rufus had played dead, and the blood pack had sealed the deal. It hurt Lucy's head to think about but she supposed with the chaos of the shootout, they could be excused for having fallen for it. The lifeboat shuddered as they landed back in the bunker.

"This is your stop," Rufus joked. "I'll go back directly for Flynn."

Lucy unbuckled her straps and waited as Wyatt pulled open the door. He froze, framed in the entrance, before he jumped down. Lucy frowned, with how nervous Connor had been about this she had expected him to be waiting for them. Usually whomever was left at the base pulled the stairs over so they could get out comfortably. Perhaps Connor had been so antsy, Agent Christopher had dragged him away.

"Go back for Flynn now!" Wyatt roared.

"What the hell?" Rufus muttered.

"Wyatt?" Lucy called, scrambling out of the lifeboat.

Wearing a dress might mean she fit in back in the past but it definitely affected her agility. She landed hard, wincing she took two steps and saw Wyatt kneeling on the ground. He looked anguished, her gaze continued past and her gut clenched. She saw the blood pool before she saw the crumpled body. It was Connor Mason.

"Agent Christopher is over there." Wyatt gestured weakly. "They are both dead."

"Dead. What? No!" Rufus shouted. "No! No! No! What happened? How did this? Who did this? How?"

"The mothership."

Lucy turned, to see Jiya sitting in the doorway of the lifeboat. Jiya was expressionless, her voice hollow, she looked as numb as Lucy felt. They had just got Rufus back. Their emotional whiplash was supposed to end on a high point, not plunge into a fresh round of grief. Lucy looked at the lifeboat, solid in the space and then she closed her eyes. They had been blind, they had all been blind. Jiya had escaped from Rittenhouse by taking the lifeboat back to the past, she had just then failed to stick the landing on her return. It was a backdoor to the bunker that they'd all failed to acknowledge, Rittenhouse would have had the coordinates from Jessica. They should have moved as soon as Jessica had betrayed them.

This had only been a matter of time.

*****

The Bunker
Present Day

"Without anyone at homebase, we lost our link to the outside world. We didn't know what was different, we remembered how things were, not how they became," future Lucy continued. "It was the beginning of the end, which is why we came back to this point. Everything was supposed to be over."

"It's almost over. Emma's dead, Rufus is safe, we're all alive. There's just future Wyatt, Jessica and the mothership left," Flynn summarised. He looked at Jiya. "Where did they go?"

"Erm, hang on," Jiya said, moving to the computer.

Jiya's hands flew across the keyboard. Rufus moved to look over her shoulder and future Lucy pinched her nose again. This was a complication she hadn't expected. She looked at Wyatt, his expression was mutinous, his lips pinched firmly together, his eyes like daggers as if he was daring anyone to blame him for his future self's actions. She didn't blame him, that would be wrong, and truthfully she didn't blame her timeline's Wyatt either. Now she'd had a minute to think about it, she completely understood; she couldn't condone it, but she understood.

"He's gone back to the 1850's, California," Jiya said.

"The gold rush." Lucy spoke up for the first time.

"He's gone to make himself rich," Flynn reasoned. "Not a bad plan, especially with all those cash for gold advertisements. If they came back to almost present day, a bit of intelligent pre-investing and they can have a very nice life."

"You have to go after him," Agent Christopher decided. "I'm sorry Wyatt, it's not that I don't trust ... you, it's just we can't have a time machine out there."

Awkward didn't quite cover it. Future Lucy shifted uncomfortably and touched her hand to her forehead, wincing again at the stickiness she found. Not that it mattered. There was only one more thing for her to do. She looked at her younger self, who was resolutely not looking in her direction; scratch that, there were two more things for her to do.

"Lucy," future Lucy said hesitantly. "Can you help me with this?"

"Ok," Lucy agreed.

Future Lucy headed for the bathroom, hearing her past self trailing behind her. The moment they were both inside, future Lucy shut the door firmly. "I didn't ask you in here for this." she gestured at her head. "We need to talk."

"Ok," Lucy managed eventually.

"Yeah I know, it's weird." future Lucy smiled weakly in sympathy. "Don't worry I'm not going to be here for much longer. I have one last trip to make. Once I give Flynn the journal, the circle will be complete. I just ... I need you to promise me something."

Lucy's eyes narrowed. "I know you're technically me, but you already lied and locked me in a room so blind trust is off the table. You're going to have to be specific."

Future Lucy sighed, her thoughts were scrambled and she didn't quite know how to say what she needed to say, or perhaps more accurately she wasn't sure where to begin. "I should have seen this betrayal coming," she said slowly. "Wyatt he's ... he's not a bad man. We had a plan, we knew this was a one-way trip and ... " she rubbed at her forehead, struggling for the words. "I get what he's doing, and in a lot of ways he's justified. The danger is gone, Rittenhouse is leaderless, Emma is dead and the time machine is out of their hands. There are probably elements left, they had a massive infrastructure after all, but they are a bit like a toothless tiger right now."

She paused. Her younger self was leaning against the wall next to the mirror. It was weird, like seeing double, herself and herself and they both looked damn tired. Belatedly future Lucy realised that for her younger self it probably hadn't fully sunk in yet that her mother was dead. It had taken a while for her, as Rufus and then Agent Christopher and Connor, had taken precedence. So much had gone on, and so much was going on again, that the full force of grief and confusion hadn't hit until much later. How do you mourn a mother who had become the enemy? How do you mourn someone you weren't sure you ever actually knew? Do you mourn the mother who gave you the greatest gift in the world - the love of history? Do you allow all those years of memories to be tainted by the revelation of her allegiance? What had been real? What had just been a lie? Future Lucy wished she had the answers for her younger self but she supposed her younger self had the advantage - she'd have time to process it, without having to helplessly watch the world burn around her.

"There's so much I want to say but I don't know how to say it," future Lucy admitted. "I just ... the promise I want you make is that I want you to save Wyatt from himself. It took me a long time to see it, and he really isn't a bad man, please don't misunderstand, it's just he thinks everything is about him and what he wants, what he needs."

"Were you together?" Lucy asked suddenly.

Future Lucy snorted at the thought. "No. We had a routine almost. He'd say he loved me, I'd tell him I needed time, and then he'd storm off. The first time I actually meant it, because I wasn't sure how I felt, but seeing his ... anger I guess is the word, it just made me think."

Lucy's eyes narrowed. "Why are you telling me this?"

"For the same reason I'll repeat what Emma told me in the future. I have no proof, Emma was a liar, but Wyatt wouldn't meet my eyes and I have always wondered." future Lucy hesitated and took a breath.

She perhaps shouldn't say this but she had lived with the suspicion hanging over her for so long, and there had been nobody to share it with. She needed to say it now, almost like draining the poison out of the wound.

"There was a shootout. I wasn't there, I was back at the settlement, they were in the orchard. It was Flynn and Wyatt vs. Emma and Jessica. Wyatt told me that Jessica went down and that Emma shot Flynn, but Emma said that ..."

"It was Wyatt," Lucy finished softly.

Future Lucy shrugged. "I don't know, truthfully I didn't want to know because we were the last two left, we only had each other. I could never love him how he wanted but ..." she shook her head. "Look I just needed you to know. Everyone here is family. We've saved Rufus so please, save Wyatt from himself."

"Obviously we'll try but no promises," Lucy allowed, she rolled her eyes. "You know how stubborn Wyatt can be after all."

"I do." future Lucy reached for her younger self and then aborted the motion. In the mirror she saw her expression like an echo, next to Lucy as they both had the exact same thought.

"This is so weird."

"It really is."

*****

California
Around 1850

Lucy rubbed at the back of her neck and stretched, sighing softly in satisfaction when she heard the vertebrae pop. She peered out of the hayloft hatch again but the view hadn't changed since the last time she'd looked. The yard, which had been empty when they arrived, still had three labourers roaming around. They were trapped for the time being seeing as they didn't want to explain their presence to anyone. As always their quick 'in and out' plan had gone awry.

No matter how many times Rufus had explained the nature of time travel to her, she still didn't understand why there was never enough time. Whenever the mothership jumped, they always scrambled to follow as fast as possible, when in theory they should be able to relax because they were travelling in time , and could go back to the moment the mothership arrived, or even before, irrespective of when they left. However, it didn't work that way for bridging reasons? The amount of time that passed between the mothership jumping and them jumping, carried over into the past. So if they left an hour after the mothership, they arrived an hour after the mothership.

She supposed that made sense. That was also why their time travel trips actually took time. If they were in the past for five hours, then five hours passed between them leaving and then getting back. They couldn't spend a month in the past, and then return five seconds after they left, which helped with making sure they aged at a commensurate rate with their own timeline, but honestly it sucked because it meant that for time travellers, they still didn't have enough time .

Her older self, or future alternate timeline self, had left in the upgraded lifeboat to give past Flynn the journal. Lucy had been surprised that Agent Christopher hadn't argued, but then they were up against fate or a paradox, Flynn had been given that journal so he had to be given it. They had to let future Lucy go. She had promised to destroy the upgraded lifeboat and they had to have faith she would. Lucy was glad that her older self hadn't explained how she planned on doing it, as she wasn't sure she wanted to know. If that had been her ... although in a way it was? She had her suspicions, some dark thoughts that she'd never speak out loud.

Future Lucy had left almost immediately, just an hour after their conversation. Wyatt had wanted to leave immediately to pursue his future self and Jessica but again, surprisingly, it had been Agent Christopher who had vetoed that. Flynn was hurt, they were all tired and reeling from events, and future Wyatt wasn't going anywhere. It would take time to gather up enough gold, even with the help of the explosives he'd taken from the armory, so they had taken a few days off. That meant that future Wyatt had established himself in the past, he'd got a ranch and hired employees, hence why they were stuck in his barn hayloft.

Lucy twitched and glared at Flynn, her partner on this mission. He was lounging back, looking irritatingly relaxed given the situation, and he kept flicking hay at her. Jiya had stayed at the bunker with Agent Christopher and Connor, and Wyatt was guarding both Rufus and the lifeboat. Wyatt had wanted to come with her, and leave Flynn with the lifeboat, but she had reasoned that if anyone saw them - saw double - that it could cause issues. Sure, they would probably assume Wyatt was an identical twin but thankfully Wyatt hadn't thought of that. Truthfully Lucy just felt he was too emotionally involved, and the half-promise she had made to her older self echoed in her mind 'save Wyatt from himself' .

"Will you stop that," Lucy hissed, as another piece of itchy hay tickled her neck.

Flynn smirked and held his hands up in mock surrender. She rolled her eyes and then flicked a bit of hay back at him. After the intensity of everything lately, it was nice not to be serious for once. Their plan had been simple, to confront future Wyatt and make him see reason. That wasn't much of a plan but then future Wyatt wasn't their enemy. She remembered her future self saying that she understood future Wyatt's actions, and Lucy thought she understood as well. He had been facing the end of the world, and so a one-way trip to ensure a better future was an easy call to make. However, once back in the past, having to face that his life was gone because there was another version of him living it - where would he go? What would he do?

He'd made the logical choice in a way, he'd made a new life for himself, but the problem was Jessica. They could probably have trusted that future Wyatt would destroy the mothership when he was done; but Jessica had been Rittenhouse, and Wyatt loved her so much, he might be careless. They had to be sure. This was why time travel was such a risk, over the countless missions Lucy had lost her fear that she might step on a bug and change the future, but small pebbles could lead to large avalanches. As fascinating as walking through history was, she would be relieved if this was the last mission. Her missing sister danced in her mind, there were consequences for meddling in time.

"Still there?" Flynn checked.

"Yeah." Lucy nodded, she shifted and growled in frustration, completely unable to get comfortable. "How did rolls in the hay become a thing?" Flynn laughed and Lucy bit her lip, snorting as she tried to contain her own laughter. "Shhh, they'll hear us."

Flynn mimed zipping his mouth shut and then shrugged off his coat, laying it down on the hay. He gestured and gratefully Lucy lay down on it, on her side, her hands together cushioning her head. Flynn settled next to her, his arms folded behind his head. If this really was their last mission, she wondered what would happen to Flynn afterwards. Technically he was an escaped prisoner. Agent Christopher, Rufus, Wyatt and herself could all return to their lives pretty much. Jiya had her condition, and Connor had lost everything he'd worked for, but they could leave the bunker and try and rebuild. If Flynn left he'd eventually be captured and put back in prison for life, which just didn't seem fair. He'd told her that they'd work together one day, and he'd been right, they'd always been on the same side but it had been her who hadn't realised that.

The conversation with her future self swam in her mind once more. This wasn't the first time she'd contemplated possibilities, she was quite well acquainted with the ceiling above her bunk, or the couch, as sleep was an elusive concept. In the dark of the night her mind liked to wonder about things, and she had wondered about Flynn, about Wyatt, about maybe feeling feelings. The darkness was a good time for plumbing the depths of her soul. However, this was the first time she'd thought about the practicalities, because it was the first time a future without the concern that time travel could wipe out the world seemed possible.

Knowing Agent Christopher she probably had a plan to help Flynn, maybe a new identity. He could never be himself again legally, but he could have a new life, they could all have lives. The question was, what kind of life did she want?

Chapter Text

Wyatt paced up and down. He glanced over at Rufus, who was leaning against the side of the lifeboat looking pained. Rufus had already told him to calm down three times but he just couldn't stop pacing. Instinctively Wyatt went to check his watch, growling for the hundredth time seeing his bare wrist. It was 1850 so the watch had stayed at home and he had no idea how much time had passed, probably not that long but it felt like forever.

"I'm going to just ..." Rufus gestured vaguely at the lifeboat and scrambled back inside.

"I'll be here," Wyatt called after him.

He scuffed the ground with his boot, his gaze moving between the lifeboat and the path that Flynn and Lucy had taken. Somebody should stay with Rufus, they'd only just got him back. It didn't matter that before Rufus' apparent death they would all have left him alone if necessary - that was before . It didn't matter that Rufus was miraculously, and thankfully, back with them, because they had all felt his death and it could have been any one of them. Now that one of them had 'fallen', so to speak, Wyatt felt ten times more protective, acutely aware of how vulnerable his team was. He couldn't, he shouldn't, leave him.

Wyatt glanced between the lifeboat and the path once more, then he bolted for the path. He couldn't wait any longer, he should never have let Lucy convince him to stay put. They had arrived in the middle of nowhere, nestled at the foot of some rocky hills, far from civilisation. Rufus and the lifeboat were safe enough and he wouldn't be long. The dirt crunched beneath his boots as he swiftly covered the ground. Up ahead the homestead ranch his future self had purchased grew closer, and he could make out more details. There were three labourers in the yard and so he skirted the fence, circling round to look for the backdoor entrance of the house.

It was locked but a swift kick fixed that. Wyatt strode into the house, his heart hammering in his chest, as he ducked his head into each room. He took the stairs two at a time, and checked upstairs, but found nobody - the house was empty. It was only then that Wyatt realised what, or rather who, he had been so desperate to find. Lucy had said they needed to confront his future self, make him accept that mucking about in the past was a bad idea, but Wyatt knew himself and knew that wasn't the right tactic. He went back downstairs and roamed around, one of the front rooms had been furnished as an office. It was still spartan but then they had just had a couple of days, there hadn't been much chance to make it a home yet.

The front door clicked, and the hinges creaked. Wyatt swiftly moved to the wall by the door, flattening himself against it. He heard heavy footsteps and then his older self walked past him into the room.

"Where's Jessica?" Wyatt demanded.

Future Wyatt whirled round. "Oh you couldn't leave it alone could you? I gave everything ..."

"No, I gave everything," Wyatt growled.

"You have your life, what was my life," future Wyatt argued.

"So you took my wife? My kid?" Wyatt yelled.

He saw his future self's eyes move, saw his stance shift, his weight adjust, and instinct kicked in.

*****

"What was that?" Lucy asked uneasily, although she already knew.

"A gunshot," Flynn confirmed darkly. He scrambled to his feet, crouching down out of sight he peered out of the hayloft hatch and sighed. "I see Rufus."

"Wyatt," Lucy groaned.

"The locals have gone," Flynn said.

That was all Lucy needed to hear. With as much haste as her period dress allowed she headed for the hayloft ladder. She stumbled, falling down the last two rungs, but she barely noticed. When they'd gone to hide in the hayloft, climbing the ladder had felt like it took forever. She'd been so conscious of the arriving labourers, feeling the prickle of awareness that at any moment they could walk into the barn and find them. In contrast descending felt like it took no time at all, in one breath she went from the hayloft to striding across the yard to meet Rufus.

"I was just checking systems, I turned my back for five minutes," Rufus said in a rush, his face etched with concern.

Lucy hesitated, staring at the front door of the ranch. It was nice, there were steps up to the front deck which ran the length of the house, it was a large solid looking wooden door, alternate future Wyatt had done well in just a couple of days. She hadn't been able to get out of the hayloft fast enough after hearing the gunshot. 'Save Wyatt from himself' but she was scared and couldn't help but regard the ranch with trepidation. Wyatt had left Rufus and the lifeboat, there had been a gunshot, but they didn't know who had been shot or why. If they walked into that ranch who would they see with the gun? Who would be on the floor?

"Lucy," Flynn prompted.

"Yeah, let's go."

With confidence she didn't feel Lucy led the way to the ranch. The handle turned easily under her hand and she stepped into the front hall. She looked right and saw Wyatt facing the doorway, gun in hand, staring down at the Wyatt on the floor. A blood pool was forming around his body and Lucy's heart constricted. Rufus stepped round her, his eyes wide with horror, moving between the Wyatt with the gun, and the Wyatt on the floor. Lucy forced herself to take a breath, to think about it, and the next breath came easier because she knew what clothes Wyatt had been wearing when they had left the bunker. It was the same clothes he'd worn on the Chinatown mission, to first save Jiya and then to save Rufus.

"You killed your future self. I thought I had the monopoly on that branch of time travel strangeness having to shoot my past self but this." Flynn gestured to the body, shaking his head.

"I need to find Jessica." Wyatt stepped round the body, pushing past them like they weren't there.

"Hey, Wyatt, wait, just," Rufus stammered, while following him out of the house.

Lucy's hand came up to cover her mouth. She couldn't tear her eyes away from future alternate Wyatt's body. He was just a few years older, he still looked basically the same, and he was her friend, he just had a few years more memories of a life she hadn't lived and would hopefully never live. Seeing him dead was shocking. Her mind was running in circles, thinking of her alternate older self and how she'd presumably meant save this Wyatt as well, and clearly that was a failure. Also she thought of how her alternate older self was adrift, and looking at the alternate Wyatt how clear it was that nobody would mourn him as Wyatt was still alive. It was like she wasn't sure how to feel because Wyatt was still here, and this wasn't their Wyatt but it was, and it could have been, and ...

"I suppose it was inevitable," Flynn commented suddenly. She looked sharply at him and he shrugged. "Having duplicates running around, it wasn't likely to end well."

"He's not just a duplicate. He was a person, he was Wyatt ," Lucy said firmly. "We should bury him."

Lucy tore her eyes away and moved to the front door. Rufus was standing helplessly in the middle of the yard as Wyatt stalked around. She supposed if they were taking Jessica back with them, then alternate future Wyatt's body would provide a story for the locals as to what happened to the new arrivals. They would assume that Jessica had killed him and vanished, or that persons unknown had killed him and then kidnapped Jessica, either way they'd have a satisfactory explanation. Still it didn't sit right, just as leaving Rufus behind in Chinatown had felt very wrong. They had thought Rufus dead and that he would be buried in an unmarked grave, just another John Doe; nobody to mourn him, nobody who knew him to give him proper last rites. Rufus deserved better and this alternate version of Wyatt deserved something more as well. Unfortunately she didn't think he'd get it.

"Hey, you!" Wyatt yelled, finally spotting one of the labourers. "Where's my wife?"

"She's not back from town yet sir, but she should be back soon," the man said warily.

Wyatt growled in irritation and waved the man away, striding back towards the ranch. "When Jessica gets back we're leaving."

"I suppose I'll wait behind," Flynn offered. "Rufus can come straight back for me."

"Sure," Wyatt said shortly, sharply nodding his head, his gaze fixed to the road heading away from the ranch, towards town.

His foot tapped in agitation and Lucy found herself staring at the horizon line herself, watching for movement, probably a cloud of dust from a horse-drawn cart as the town didn't look to be within easy walking distance. Jessica would presumably be back before dark and, looking at the position of the sun, that was only a few hours away. However even if was just five minutes away, the level of impatience in the air meant it would feel like a very long wait. Lucy sighed and moved to sit on the ranch steps. After a minute Flynn joined her, leaving poor Rufus trying to calm Wyatt's impatience.

With a start Lucy realised that she hadn't spoken much with Rufus since his rescue. Jiya and Connor had monopolised him but once again the words of her future alternate self echoed in her mind - 'everyone here is family' . This was their second chance, they probably wouldn't get another one, and hopefully wouldn't need it, so they really needed to learn the lessons events should have taught them. Number one was to tell people how much they meant to you. Rufus probably knew how much she cared for him but everyone needed to hear the words occasionally, and people needed to say them as well or it led to a lifetime of regret. Her mothers face flashed into her mind and she forcefully pushed it away.

"Hey I think I see movement," Rufus said, pointing to the speck of dust in the distance.

Wyatt jogged to the gate. Lucy stayed where she was, watching as the speck of dust grew larger, and more defined, until a clear horse and carriage could be seen. The driver pulled into the yard, and the moment the horse careened to a stop Wyatt leapt for the carriage door, yanking it open. He held out his hand and Lucy saw a feminine hand take it, and then her jaw dropped.

"Erm guys," Rufus murmured.

"I see it but ..." Flynn shook his head.

Lucy blinked. They'd taken just a couple of days before they came after future alternate Wyatt and Jessica - just a couple of days. They'd last seen Jessica in Chinatown and she hadn't looked pregnant, although she'd promised Wyatt that she was. According to their records the mothership had jumped twice since then. Once for half a minute in order to then return and infiltrate the bunker, and then this last time to the 1850's where they had pursued. It hadn't disappeared into time, so there was no logical reason, no reason that Lucy could understand, as to why Jessica now looked more like eight months pregnant.

"How?" Wyatt's hand moved up and down hovering over Jessica's protruding belly.

"You were there," Jessica said waspishly. She turned to the driver and gestured dismissively. "Go, park."

The driver nodded, taking hold of the horses reins, turned the horse and carriage round and headed towards the barn. Lucy warily watched him leave, they didn't need an audience for this discussion. They should probably take it inside, as there were several people within potential earshot, but alternate future Wyatt's body was inside. Plus the plan had been to head directly for the lifeboat, there was no point in going inside the ranch if they were just going to immediately turn around and leave.

"No, I meant ..."

Jessica's eyes flickered over them all and she sighed, rolling her eyes. "Oh, you are the other Wyatt. Where's the older one?"

Wyatt's mouth opened and closed, as he tried and failed to find the words. Lucy winced, Flynn winced, Rufus winced - it was a collective wince, because what could they say really?

"He's dead," Rufus said gently, when it became clear Wyatt wasn't going to say anything. "We're here to take you back with us."

"We need to know where you've hidden the mothership." Flynn gestured to her stomach. "And an explanation for that would be nice."

"It's in a clearing covered with branches, a couple of miles that way." Jessica pointed in a similar direction to where they'd parked the lifeboat, and gave her stomach a wry glance. "You'll forgive me if I don't show you myself, I'm not exactly up for trooping through the woods these days."

"Yeah, Jessica, I don't..." Wyatt breathed, he ran a hand through his hair, his eyes wide. "Seriously how?"

Jessica shrugged. "I guess time travelling while pregnant isn't the best idea." She grimaced and stepped round Wyatt, heading towards the ranch. "If you'll excuse me..."

Her hand flew to her stomach as she groaned in pain. Wyatt was at her side in a second, gently holding her arm, and looking impossibly even more panicked. Then liquid splattered on the dust beneath Jessica's feet. It seemed her accelerated pregnancy was at an end.

"We need to get her inside," Flynn said urgently, moving to take Jessica's other arm. "If the pregnancy was this fast, we don't know how fast the labour might be. Lucy find towels. Rufus boil water."

"How do you know what to do?" Rufus asked incredulously.

"My wife gave birth in the hospital but I was there ," Flynn explained. "Now hurry."

*****

Tiredly Lucy leant against the wall of the ranch and took a deep breath. Flynn had been right to be concerned as labour had been fast, or at least fast compared to the horror stories she occasionally saw old high school friends share on facebook. It had been a nerve-wracking experience because none of them had ever delivered a baby before. Inside the baby was quiet, swaddled in clean linen, and hungrily feeding. Wyatt looked pole-axed, an expression of giddy disbelief glued to his face, as he repeated the same words with awe 'I have a son'.

She'd stepped outside to get some air and had been surprised to find that night had fallen. The stars twinkled clearly in the sky and she shivered as the air cooled. Decisions would have to be made, and she supposed they could now wait until morning, because truthfully she didn't know what they could do. If time travel was bad for pregnancy, then what would it do to a baby? They couldn't possibly know and she certainly didn't want to find out. The question was though, what did they then do about it?

"Hey, you ok?" Rufus checked.

"Yeah." Lucy nodded. She shivered and Rufus shrugged his coat off, handing it to her. She threw it round her shoulders with a grateful smile. "Where's Flynn?"

"Out back, digging a hole, I'm going to go help. We can't just ... we can't leave him like that," Rufus said awkwardly.

Lucy swallowed hard. They'd closed the door in the chaos of bringing Jessica inside, and setting her up in the parlour to give birth. They'd just closed the door, leaving future alternate Wyatt's body laying there; out of sight, out of mind, she felt sick at the thought. She bit her lip, holding back the other questions bubbling in her mind. Tomorrow seemed so uncertain after the drama of the day, and she didn't want to put voice to her suspicions about what would happen. She wanted to keep her denial for a little longer. Rufus seemed to feel the same way as he said nothing, just standing with her in companionable silence for a few minutes, before turning and heading back inside.

*****

The morning dawned bright and clear. None of them had slept much, not with the baby wailing every few hours, and so Lucy was feeling far groggier than she would have liked, when she took her seat at the kitchen table. Rufus was sitting opposite, his head in his hand, his eyes half-closed. Flynn put a cup of tea in front of her and she managed a weary, grateful smile.

"Did you sleep at all?" Lucy asked.

Flynn shook his head, opening his mouth to say something when Wyatt burst into the room. Lucy's gut clenched. She'd seen Wyatt decisive and determined a hundred times, but it had always been on missions. When it came to his personal life, especially since Jessica's return, she'd seen him agonised and unsure and painfully uncertain. However, right now he seemed at peace. His eyes were bright, despite the fact that he'd probably not slept, and he was radiating decisiveness. He had clearly decided what he was going to do, and Lucy's heart ached because she'd known it all along, she'd known it ever since Jessica had stepped down from that carriage revealing her accelerated pregnancy.

"Jessica and the baby can't go back and I'm going to stay with them," Wyatt announced.

"But, no, you can't," Rufus spluttered. "It's 1850."

"It's a simpler life," Wyatt acknowledged with a shrug. "But my wife, my kid, what else do I need?"

"Ah, how about modern medicine? You're looking at a life without antibiotics, without..."

"We'll be fine." Wyatt rolled his eyes, a soft smile spreading across his face. "Really, Rufus."

Rufus shook his head, his eyes suspiciously wet. Abruptly he stood up, the chair scraping against the wooden floor. He marched round the table, wrapping Wyatt up in a bear hug. "We can give you the medkit from the lifeboat, but there's not much in there. We could bring back more, we can come back for you!"

Wyatt stepped back and shook his head. "When? How old do you think the kid has to be, in order to be safe? This is my choice Rufus."

Silence descended on the kitchen. Wyatt was earnestly, pleadingly looking at Rufus to understand. Lucy could see that Rufus did understand, they all understood, but they just didn't like it. Wyatt was their friend, they had just got Rufus back, none of them were willing to lose another friend. They weren't supposed to leave people behind, they were all supposed to go home.

"We'll need to destroy the mothership, they'll be no way back," Flynn pointed out, breaking the silence.

"I know." Wyatt gave a slight nod in acknowledgement. "That was always the plan, and we brought enough explosives on the lifeboat to do it."

"Agent Christopher won't like it," Rufus argued weakly.

"None of us like it," Lucy murmured and silence fell once more.

Wyatt was right, this was his choice and in many respects it was the only choice. They couldn't safely take a baby back to the future, and what could they do, just abandon it alone in 1850? That would be much worse. It was a case of a situation where there were no good choices, only a decision between a bad choice and a worse one.

"My wife, my kid," Wyatt repeated, a soft smile spreading across his face once more. "There are far worse places to be stuck than 1850. It'll be ok."

Rufus made a noise in his throat, and abruptly turned his back on them all, stepping out of the backdoor to get some air. Lucy met Flynn's eyes and wondered if the same thought had crossed his mind at Wyatt's words. They'd rampaged through history and had got lucky so far on a macro level, as nothing had changed that much, but on a micro level? Her sister danced through her mind. If they left Wyatt in the past, they had no idea what impact that would have on history in terms of individuals, but once again it came back to the simple question - what else could they do?

*****

Agent Christopher's mouth had thinned, her lips pressing tightly together as they exited the lifeboat. Lucy exited first, Flynn behind her, and when Rufus climbed out for half a second Lucy expected an explosion. Four of them left, they had expected six to return and instead there was only three. Rufus instantly went to Jiya, and she wrapped her arms round him in a comforting embrace, realising what none of them said.

"Wyatt stayed behind," Agent Christopher stated, after a tense moment.

"Jessica had the baby, time travel accelerated everything. We really should have found her and the child a doctor but a 21st century one wouldn't have known what to do, let alone one in 1850," Flynn explained. "Did you really want us to bring a baby back given what happened to it before it was even born?"

"Let me check history," Lucy said, before Agent Christopher could respond, or anyone else said anything.

Wearily Lucy sat at the computer. She checked the timeline after every mission, so she knew where to look for concise summaries on the main points, and she would also check more specifically on events surrounding the Californian gold rush. In the background she absently registered Connor asking questions, the time machine had been his invention and this impact on Jessica was she supposed fascinating from a scientists point of view. She could also hear Agent Christopher cross-examining Flynn about the mothership, and what they'd left with Wyatt.

The minutes ticked by, her eyes tiredly scanning the lines of words, feeling the weight slip off her shoulders with every successive paragraph. Everything seemed to be as she remembered, at least on the macro level. History was intact, Wyatt and his family hadn't changed anything major, although of course they could have wiped out the birth of the next Einstein for all they knew, just like her sister had been wiped out. However the point was they didn't know - they couldn't know, and sometimes they just had to do their best and call it good enough.

"I found him," Lucy said, feeling a sad smile spread across her face despite herself. "He lived to be eighty-four and they had three more children, two more boys and a girl."

"That's ... nice," Rufus managed.

He coughed, as it suddenly hit home for all of them that they'd just left Wyatt less than an hour ago, but that for him it had been a lifetime, that he had been dead and buried for a hundred years.

"So that's that then, I guess," Flynn said, breaking the awkward silence.

Lucy nodded. "The mothership is gone. Rittenhouse is thoroughly defanged ..."

"And will be eradicated completely if I have anything to say about it," Agent Christopher said crisply. "A lot of their records went up in smoke, but we got enough from Wyatt's raid on their base, that there are threads to follow. Now they no longer have the power of time travel, and they are also without a central leader, it's like any other conspiracy case..."

"Oh because there are lots of those," Rufus said sarcastically. Agent Christopher shot him a look and his eyebrows raised. "Ok then, I really didn't want to know that."

"Then it's really over." Lucy looked at the lifeboat. "We destroy the lifeboat and..."

"No," Agent Christopher interrupted, shaking her head firmly. "We should keep it, just in case."

Lucy's heart pounded in her chest, there was a ringing in her ears, as she hoped for the words to come to mind because if there was ever a time for a convincing argument it was now. Flynn looked resigned, Connor looked pained but then it was his life's work they were talking about. Rufus looked troubled, and Lucy saw him slip his hand into Jiya's. It was going to be up to her then.

"In case of what?" Lucy asked, her voice sounding foreign to her ears, ringing through the suddenly far too quiet bunker. "So long as it exists there's always a danger it could be stolen. If it were so easy to make another one then Rittenhouse would have done it. You destroyed all the research?"

"Of course," Connor replied automatically, looking nonplussed.

"Then let's blow it up and draw a line under this mess," Lucy said firmly. She looked at Flynn, and saw the understanding in his eyes. "We all have people we want to save. My sister ... Flynn's family, but my sister vanished because of the ripple effect in the first place. There's consequences to meddling in time. Time travel is a power that nobody should have."

"What if somebody somehow develops the technology again?" Agent Christopher argued halfheartedly.

"Yeah because fighting fire with fire always works out really well," Flynn said sarcastically.

Agent Christopher sighed and bowed her head in reluctant agreement. Lucy felt the tension ease and she let out a relieved sigh. The timeline truly had forked, their alternate older selves had succeeded in their mission of changing things, and while there was no guarantee the future would be better, it at least would be shaped the regular way, and not by people walking through time. It really was over.

*****

Epilogue
Two Years Later

They say cold hands, warm heart but what do they say about cold feet? Lucy didn’t know, maybe there wasn’t a saying about cold feet at all, but what she did know was that Flynn’s feet were often freezing. She hissed as he got into bed, his cold foot accidentally brushing against her warm leg.

"Sorry," Flynn murmured, as he shifted position, getting comfortable under the sheets.

"It's ok, you can put your cold feet on me," Lucy offered, with a wry smile. "I'll warm them up."

Flynn laughed softly and Lucy twisted, turning to snuggle into his arms. Sometimes she couldn't believe that they were here, that this was their life now. It had taken months to adjust back to what passed for normality, to go back to the regular rhythm of life rather than the frantic responsive action waiting game of life in the bunker. Life had been such an after-thought, and she hadn't considered the implications of dropping off the face of the Earth. It had been such an emotional time with the reveal that her mother was Rittenhouse. There had been the explosion at Mason Industries, and Lucy had thought she was the last one left. She hadn't given any thought to her life as she planned on blowing up the mothership with them both inside it.

However, while she had forgotten about the world, the world hadn't forgotten about her, and there was only so much Agent Christopher could quash without raising suspicions. Her work had filed a missing persons report, and one of her mothers friends had done the same for her, the police had been very surprised when she'd just returned home one day. The paperwork, trying to explain that her mother was dead had been something of a nightmare, but Agent Christopher had come through once again, and managed to sort it all out in the end. That was when it had hit her, that her mother was dead, and she had no idea how to feel about that. Her sister was gone, and nobody could understand because nobody knew Amy had ever existed.

Nobody except the team - the family.

They didn't walk through time anymore, and they weren't all living in a secret underground bunker, but they usually ate together at least once a week. It was haphazard as to where, and whether someone would cook or it would be takeout, but they nearly always managed to make time for it. Rufus, Jiya and Connor missed nights occasionally, they'd formed a new startup together. With Connor's connections, and their combined brainpower, it wasn't exactly a 'out of the garage' operation but that was the energy with which they approached it. Given they were on the computer most of the day, it made sense that most of Rufus and Jiya messages came through online messaging apps. The notifications pinged almost everyday; it was mostly nothing major, sometimes just sharing a funny picture, but it kept their bond alive. They were all still so close and Lucy was thankful for that because they were her only family now, the team and Flynn.

Lucy rubbed her hand against Flynn's chest, her ear pressed so she could hear the reassuring thud of his heartbeat. While she'd had feelings for Flynn, the old cliche 'relationships formed in intense circumstances never end well' had crossed her mind so she'd decided not to pursue it. Agent Christopher had provided him with a new identity so that he could leave the bunker. She'd gone back to work at the university and Flynn had picked up a casual job working in a coffee shop. He'd said that he didn't know what he wanted to do, and wanted something low-stress while he figured it out. It had also meant that out of the whole team, it had been Flynn who was available the most to help her with everything. He'd listened while she'd ranted, he'd held her while she cried, he'd gone to lawyers meetings with her, he'd helped her pack up her mother's belongings, and then he'd helped her find a new house and move because the family home held far too many memories.

It hadn't been until she'd moved into the new house that Lucy had realised that they'd been dating, just without the romantic parts, so she'd kissed him and soon after that her new house became their new house. Best friends really did make the best partners. She supposed maybe it had been inevitable, they understood one another in a way that nobody else in the world could. They both had pieces of their hearts which would forever belong to people that weren't around anymore; they had been battered, bruised and almost broken by Rittenhouse but their lives hadn't ended. While they would never forget, they could move on and have a brighter future.

Flynn had told her that they'd 'be quite the team someday', but Lucy was sure that back then neither of them would have ever guessed exactly how good a team they made. It had been a hard two years, as the emotional fallout took much longer to deal with, than the events that caused it in the first place. However, Lucy finally felt like they were ready to take the next step, and maybe start talking about adding to their team.

Their family .