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Take Me Instead

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“Please.” She’s never heard his voice like this, quite so desperate and broken. He’s come close once or twice, but this is encompassing. Consuming. Suffocating. “Please, give her to me.”

Emma only laughs, tightening her hold. It doesn’t seem like it hurts, which is a relief, but Iris looks terrified, tears streaming down her face.

Iris.

Because somehow, Emma has her. Alive, uninjured, looking like she hasn’t aged a day since that fateful attack. As if she’s somehow been snatched from time and taken here. Lucy has questions, of course, but just at the moment, she also has a mountain of rage for the woman before them, who holds a gun in one hand, and Iris’ wrist in the other.

“Let her go,” Lucy snaps, and Emma rolls her eyes.

“Why? So your guard dog here can kill me? I don’t think so.”

“I won’t,” Flynn promises before she can answer. “If you let her go, I won’t-I won’t hurt you, just, please- ” He’s telling the truth, she can tell, but whether Emma can or not, (and whether or not she cares,) Lucy isn’t sure.

“Daddy, I'm scared,” Iris whispers, and Lucy’s heart shatters. Judging by Flynn’s face, his does the same.

“It’s alright, sweetheart.” He actually manages a smile, small and pained though it is. “It’s gonna be okay.”

But it isn’t. There’s no escape. No way out. Nothing they could do without endangering Iris more, and while Emma probably didn’t save Iris just to kill her, Lucy has no doubts that she’ll do it without hesitation if it comes to that.

They’re out of options.

“Take me instead.” Her voice is louder than she expects; everyone turns to her, wide-eyed, but she keeps her gaze fixed firmly on Emma. (If she sees Flynn’s face in this moment, it might break her.) “You don’t care about Iris. She’s nothing to you. Take me, and let them both go.”

Flynn draws in a sharp breath beside her, but says nothing, does not dare risk Iris’s safety.

Emma hums, assessing her. “I already have you,” she points out, but it doesn’t seem like she’s refusing. No, it’s like a puzzle, and her solving it is a matter of life and death.

Luckily, Lucy has always been good at puzzles.

“Right, but not willingly. If you let them go, I’ll go with you. I’ll sit quietly in my room, or do whatever you want me to do. Without me, they won’t know enough about history to try to stop you.”

“And if I don’t?”

She leans forward, channeling every ounce of her fury-at Emma, at Wyatt, at her mother -into this one moment. “If you hurt either of them, I’ll fight you every step of the way. I’ll rip a hole in history, so everyone will know exactly where to find you.”

Of course, Emma could just kill her, but Lucy knows she won’t. Not since her discovery of the journal. Unfortunately for Emma, she needs Lucy: to write the journal, to save her from the past. Without that, she’ll find herself back in a log cabin, hiding from Jesse James. (Or worse, cozying up to Lucy’s great-grandfather, just trying to earn a modicum of respect.)  

For a long moment, there is near-silence. The only sound she can hear is Iris, quietly sniffling.

Then, Emma beams. “You’ve got yourself a deal, Princess.” She releases Iris suddenly, nearly shoving her forward, and grabs Lucy’s arms in the same movement. “Get out of here, before I change my mind,” she tells Flynn, and Lucy can’t help but look up, to see his reaction.

Oh.

She was right before; it does break her, just a bit.

Raw anguish covers his face, and he glances between her and Iris desperately, maybe trying to find another solution. Maybe looking for a way to rescue both of them, but there isn’t one. She tries to feign a reassuring smile, but it’s weak, and he flinches in response. “At least let me say goodbye,” he pleads.

Surprisingly, Emma doesn’t refuse. “Make it quick,” she snaps, not releasing her hold. Flynn steps forward once, then twice, shakily, Iris clinging to his side. And oh, Lucy would give anything to gather him up in her arms, to whisper reassurances against his ear, but she doesn’t dare pull her arms free. And she is not nearly cruel enough to tell him she loves him, not when he’s about to lose her forever.

“Lucy,” he starts, but his voice breaks, and he cannot seem to find anything else to say.

That’s okay. It’s her turn to be strong for him. “You’re a good man,” she whispers, and a sound that might be a sob escapes his lips. “Take care of Iris. And-” Her mind races for something, anything, to make him smile. “Tell her where Rufus’s secret candy stash is.”

Oh. Him smiling might actually be worse. It’s just a twitch of the lips, pained and weak, and a hint of devastated awe. “Lucy, I lo-”

“That’s enough.” Emma looks pointedly at Iris. “Time’s up. And remember, if you try to come rescue her, I’ll wipe Iris from history. You know, like you did with Amy?”

No. Please don’t make him think of that. But she doesn’t dare speak, just tries to reassure him with her eyes that she loves him, she forgives him, and everything is going to be okay.

With one last heartbroken glance, Flynn scoops Iris up and runs, vanishing into the night. Gone forever.

Emma turns to her with a smile. “Well, Princess. Guess it’s just you and me.”

-

Months pass before she gets a chance. Months of torture and misery and loneliness, and not a single word from Flynn. She understands why, knows he can’t reach out, but she misses him more than she can say. But one night, when Emma is sleeping, Lucy sneaks into her room. In a flurry of bullets and blood, it’s over. She goes to the Mothership, locks herself inside, and sends a signal to the Lifeboat, just like Rufus once taught her. In minutes, they have both ships, and Lucy is back in the bunker. Home.

Flynn holds her so tightly she cannot breathe, refuses to let go. “I love you,” he whispers against her hair, “I love you, I’m sorry, I love you, I had to save Iris-”

“I know.” She clings. Oh, she clings. “I love you. It’s okay.”

Once again, he sobs, but this time, she can, too. There is no need to feign strength or bravery. Not here. Not now.

They do not let go for a very long time.