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leave me shuddering for days

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leave me shuddering for days


 

  The heat from the steam-powered locomotive diffuses through the air, reaching out with tendrils that want to suffocate her on this unseasonably warm April day. Beads of sweat cool across Lucy’s forehead, but with a quick swipe of her fingertips, as though she’s fixing her hair, the perspiration disappears in the most lady-like of fashions. The breeze is almost enough to cool her down as she puts some distance between her and Robert Todd Lincoln (who may have more to do with her current flustered state than the weather or the train) when Flynn’s haughty voice stops her mid-step. But she doesn’t turn right away; she allows herself a moment, to close her eyes and suck the coal-laden air into her lungs, to collect herself before she breathes out her fury.


She hates him.


He killed his family, he’s the reason she’s been dragged into the past, the reason Amy is gone, the reason she’ll have to stand by and watch as a man dies in front of her tonight. A man she would give anything to save. And she hates that he knows so much about her.


And she hates him.


He grips her hand, growls more than an idle threat, and before she pulls her hand fiercely out of his grasp, he tugs her forward, and presses his harsh lips to hers in a rough, dangerous kiss. When his lips touch hers, his fingers loosen around her wrist, and she yanks her hand free and pushes him back with two palms firm on his chest. She spits out an expletive, and strides away from him before she betrays her upbringing and slaps him hard across the cheek.


She hates him.

Much later, back in the present, stripping out of her blood-soaked dress, scrubbing the dry tears from her face, she will realize that the funny thing about hate is how tightly it can be entwined with another emotion...




  She came to him, looking like she’d been torn straight out of the battles of time, with deeper lines marring her once-smooth face, and her eyes darker, haunted. Hair slicked back, clothes sticking to her as the rain pounded down relentlessly around them, she didn’t even try to shield herself from the storm. What was a little rain when her life had been so buffeted by the howling temporal winds? She stood tall, steadfast in her determination as she handed him the diary she had guarded inside her long coat.


Without a word she had reached for his hand, carefully curled her long fingers around his thick wrist, and brought him stumbling to her. With a gentle touch she cupped his cheek, pressed her damp lips to his, and sighed her forgiveness into his mouth.


She tasted like desperation and hope, and a good decade older than he thought she should; she tasted like the answer to a question he didn’t yet know how to ask.
She left him, bidding him a goodbye with a slight dip of her chin, and with that same sad smile playing on her wind-burned lips, the one he would come to associate with her in time.
The one he would see more and more each time their paths crossed in the past.
The one he would do anything to erase all traces of rue from.


He harbored enough pain for the both of them.



  She doesn’t hate Ian Fleming. Not even a little bit. She could lie, say she’s growing tired of these men, who she had only previously read about, flirting with her, but there’s something about attracting the affections of a Lincoln, of James Bond himself, that warms her. Just a little, of course. And Wyatt’s watching her with curious eyes and a wry smile tugging at his usually smug mouth. Funny how his blue eyes can look green in a certain light.


She could kiss any one of them and probably feel nothing. Like kissing Jonas for tenure. The kiss would get her nothing more than the thrill of having kissed Bond, and maybe a half decent night of release with Wyatt.
But there’s a tingling on her lips and a need decidedly lower when it’s someone else’s mouth her mind wanders to.
Harder, sadder, eroded by the endlessly pouring sands of time against the inside of a perpetual hourglass.


She stands at the bottom of the stairs, surrounded by Nazis and touches the tip of a finger to her lips, under the guise of touching up her lipstick again, should anyone glance her way. She closes her eyes. She takes a breath.
And then she feels Flynn, tangible on her arm as he takes hold of her. He spins her around, pulls her body closer until the heat from him licks across her cheek like a kiss from Mephistopheles himself.
She stares him down. She hates him. She won’t give him von Braun, she’ll never work with him, she can’t admit the diary could be anything less than a fake.


She hates him.


So why is it, in the moments before a gun is pressed to her head, that the only lips she thinks about kissing are his bitter ones?



  There’s a line, between Lucy’s present and future selves, in the form of a leather-bound book. The day the older woman pressed it into his palm, it connected them, in a way he doesn’t think present Lucy could ever understand. Because he’s not sure anyone has the ability to comprehend that.
But the bond exists now, and it links them like two fettered ankles, tied to one another, actions bound by the other.
When he kissed her, on that platform in 1865, she remembered kissing him before. One hundred and fifty-one years in the future while a winter rainstorm soaked them to the bone.
He thinks when he understands time travel he’ll have to hang up his worn boots by their fraying straps, if only to spare his mind.
She may not understand her seemingly inexplicable connection to him, she may not want to, but as she’d locked her fierce brown eyes on his, he understood why the room had fallen away around her and he was all she could see.


Even if she never will.



  She doesn’t hate Wyatt, not even when they bicker like an old married couple. There’s a comforting pull to their relationship; he draws her in with blue eyes he knows how to use, and it’s
so magnetic she’s not even sure she could resist. And then, like magnets, they flip, and they argue, and fight, and she wishes she could punch some sense into him when all she’s trying to do is preserve history and all he seems to want to do is shoot people in the past and erase people in the present.


She doesn’t even hate him for that.


Because to hate him, perhaps she would have to love him first. He’s attractive, few could deny that. And he has soft lips.
(She knows).
Kissing him, sprawling across his lap, pressed against him in a tiny bed, it all just reminds her how long it’s been since she’s felt a man between her thighs. Possibly even long before Jonas, because God knows she’d felt nothing the few times they’d slept together.
She knows with Wyatt it could be the same, and that’s not what she needs. So she doesn’t suggest anything further as they hang up their thirties outfits and go their separate ways.
When she lies in bed that night, fingers slipped beneath her panties, the name whispered breathlessly from her lips surprises her.
Flynn’s face fills the darkness beneath her closed eyelids, and she comes hard, biting back a gasp as she quakes silently in her bed.


She hates him.


So why does she need him?



  He knows what they will become. He has read every word countless times, committed passages to memory until the words play through his dreams and even asleep she is all he thinks about. It scared him, at first, and for a long time after, to think someone could replace Lorena in his dreams.
In his life. Because the diary states, in Lucy’s sloping, sure penmanship, that his past is just an echo of ripples in their wake.
An entry near the end, a page summarizing his future with Lucy, is burned into his brain.
It takes him a long time to accept it.


Until one day, he does.


And then he reads ahead. Past, present, future, he needs to know it all.


We kissed for the first – and last – time in the rain.


Her final words scrawled on the yellowing paper might haunt him to the ends of time.



  She hates him a little less when she sees his compassion for horses. It’s funny, how a soft touch with animals almost completely changes her opinion of him.
Or maybe it’s time doing that.
Time has changed her so much recently.
When she pleads with him not to kill the younger Rittenhouse she sees it, behind his eyes, an abhorrence for what he will become if he pulls the trigger.
His hand is hot around her wrist again, but his grip is less firm than she remembers. Because maybe he’s starting to give in now. He isn’t fighting her as hard anymore. She isn’t pushing him away with quite so much force.
When she follows his eyes to find the boy gone, she doesn’t even feel fear of how he might punish her. She steps in, putting her body so close to his there’s but a whisper of space between them, and she locks her eyes on his and stands strong.
He won’t kill her, somehow she feels this in her bones. He has left a hand print on her neck, his fingerprints on her wrist, and she hates him for those. When she touches him now, when she reaches up and ghosts the pads of her own fingers across his cheek, she does it with a touch far kinder than any he’s shown her.


He’s capable of love, she knows this. Somehow. He’s just too broken to remember right now.


So she cups his cheek in her palm and brushes her lips across the straight line of his. He doesn’t twitch at the contact, he stands very still, almost eerily so, still holding her wrist, letting her kiss him like he’s a man who deserves love.


In 1780 she thinks perhaps she hates him a little less.



  He went back to 1780 before his previous jump back there, because he knows the stories, of Donovan, how the pilot returned so insane he’s in solitary, doped to the gills, and will be for as long as what remains of his mind clings to life.
He feels like time travel is turning him insane without even having to cross paths with himself.
Or maybe it’s Lucy. Beautiful, head-strong Lucy, who still fights him every step of the way.
Except.
In 1780.
When she kissed him so tenderly he almost believed her words in the journal could come true.
He loves her.
Already.
He thinks he has since the day she kissed him – that first and last time, that deluge of desperation
and hope seeping into his veins, changing him.
He changes her.
He wants to stay mad, but it’s a different kind of madness that’s eating away at him.
Isn’t that all love is anyway?
A folie à deux.
Perhaps.


But is any man that lucky twice in life?



  The lights of the very first Ferris wheel twinkle in the Chicago sky, like stars spinning back to Earth, but she’s never felt less grounded than she does now.
He knew her size without asking, bought her make-up, gave her privacy to fix her hair, but the kindness falls away as he stands at her side, whispering his nefarious plans into her ear.


And she hates him again.


She thinks the only place they might do great things is between the sheets. Her fury for him, his passion for her, the fireworks of the World’s Fair would have nothing on them in that moment.
She’s not ready for that with him. He never will be. But sex is as good a distraction as any. And she won’t kill people for him.
She won’t take a life.
Ever.


She flirts with Wyatt after saving her guys’ butts, but it’s pent-up frustration, lingering like the tongue-tingling scent of Flynn. That woody scent, wrapped up in leather, spritzed with musk.
Heady, dangerous, arousing.
Wyatt’s different. He’s safe, like cardamom and cloves. And too busy fixated on his dead wife to look at her as anything other than a night to quell needs.
When she knocks on his door that night, when he leads her inside, that’s exactly what it is.
It’s good.
It serves a purpose.


That’s all.



  He knows.
She wrote about it in the diary. It’s three lines of subtle subtext, but he read between them, and brushed them aside.
There will be no fallout from that event and both she and Wyatt will carry on like nothing had ever happened.
The diary tells him so.
The diary tells him a lot.


Like…



  The weight of her sister’s disappearance hangs heavy over her in 1882; she needs to feel something other than emptiness.
And, oh, Amy would hate him. Amy never approved of Lucy’s boyfriends. Boyfriends? Few had actually been that. Few had stuck around long enough.
"Your taste in men sucks, Lucy."
Aint that the truth.


She killed a man today, and still she feels less than she should.
She feels… something. Oh, hatred for herself, that’s it.
But it isn’t enough.
She doesn’t know how to find Flynn in the present, but she thinks in the future she could jot down a cryptic message in a certain diary.
She must do it.
Because he finds her in the dive bar at ten PM, already halfway through her second beer, waiting for him.
She downs the beer, takes his hand, and leads him out the back. She lets him push her against the wall of the alley, likes the burn of the rough bricks through her thin shirt, like the indentation they’re making in the skin of her back.
He’s sure in his movements as he presses a leg between hers, and applies pressure to the low throb that’s driving her mad. Gripping at his arms, she pulls him closer and presses her hot, open mouth to his, sighing everything she needs into his lungs until he’s breathing her and her alone.
It’s messy and fast. Her skirt hitched up to her waist, her leg curled around his, her head pressed into his shoulder as her breathing becomes more labored.
Electricity sizzles through her, zapping through her veins and inflaming her skin.
It’s more than this, he tells her as she adjusts her skirt, and she follows him to a motel that’s less seedy than perhaps she deserves right now.


It’s been a while since someone has made love to her.
It’s been a while since she’s even felt love.


She hates him? She did, but maybe not for a while now.


It’s funny how hate and love are so interconnected like that.



  He doesn’t know what their future holds, but as a sleeping, sated Lucy lies languid in his arms he knows he holds the power to change whatever event forces her back through time to his door in early 2016.
He won’t believe in whatever God decides such a lonely fate for the both of them.
He makes that decision, firm and resolute, and whispers it into her hair, to seal the promise against her skin.


We kissed for the first time in the rain.