December 25, 2023
“Look at it this way,” Wyatt remarked, buckling Lucy into place, “you might save them all.”
She choked on her buried grief. Rufus. Jiya. Denise. Flynn. They’re the only reason she agreed to this plan. Rittenhouse needed control of the journal and Wyatt jumped at the opportunity, overjoyed to strip away the last physical connection between Lucy and Flynn. If it saved her friends...well those were hard to come by these days.
“Well, not all.” He shoved away, sneering as if he knew her thoughts drifted to Flynn and his sacrifice. “He’ll still die. Just after he’s served his purpose.”
The journal pressed into her leg, heavy with the weight of failing everyone. This was her only hope. Lucy wanted to run, to get as far away from Rittenhouse as she could, but their influence spanned the globe. Running left her no chance of survival. And it wouldn’t save them.
“It’s for the best,” she played along. The mask came easily.
It crossed her mind to slip a clue to Flynn while she finished writing the journal, but Wyatt read every word, searching for her betrayal. Lucy managed only one, in the entry about the O.K. Corral and the day he died. She had to lie anyway, Wyatt couldn’t let her tell him the truth, so it had been easy enough to slip in reference to Chinatown and a conversation that never occurred. It wasn’t out of the realm of possibility that Lucy and Flynn spoke of Brutus and the Ides of March. She pretended to remember Flynn’s imaginary fear that Wyatt Earp might betray Doc Holliday. Wyatt had no way of knowing that she wasn’t ecstatic Flynn’s heroes weren’t traitors.
She knew that if Flynn could’ve chosen his death, he would’ve wanted to go down fighting beside Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp.
With the addition of Emma and her goons, the outlaws overwhelmed the lawmen, the battle now lasting far longer than thirty seconds. In the time it took Emma to shoot Lucy as she tried to reason with the redhead, and Flynn to catch her falling body, dragging her to safety, gunfire erupted all around them.
He pleaded with her to stay with him. Hazel eyes filled with unshed tears. Virgil Earp took a bullet in the shoulder. Flynn tugged a bandana from around his neck and pressed it to her wound. Lucy lost track of where the pain ended and his hands began. Doc Holliday went down on one knee, bleeding from his hip. She tried to reach for Flynn’s cheek, to reassure him, her fingertips leaving swipes of blood on his jawline.
Jiya pulled her from his arms; she wanted to stay there. If she was going to die, she’d rather it be with him. One of the McLaury brothers killed Morgan Earp and the other shot Wyatt Logan in the thigh, taking him out of the fight. Anguish flooded Flynn’s face knowing they’d never escape with their lives and Rittenhouse would get the Lifeboat.
He bent down, pressing his lips to hers. Soft. Warm. Home. Goodbye, my heart. Commanding Jiya, “Get her to the Lifeboat.” He pulled both guns from his holster and rose.
“I love you, Lucy Preston.”
Flynn turned to face the battle. She screamed despite her wound, watching as he took a bullet in the shoulder and kept firing. Earp and Holliday flanked him as the desperate team scrambled away, leaving Flynn behind to save their lives. The last thing she saw before the Lifeboat door hissed close was the sight of a rifle blast tearing through his body.
Lucy tucked away the memory, swallowing her tears. She focused on saving the team and believing that Garcia Flynn would find a way to cheat death. Just because Rittenhouse had plans didn’t mean he’d comply with them.
“That wasn’t so bad, now was it?”
Wyatt reached for her seatbelt and she slapped his hand away. Seeing Flynn again, alive and searching her face for answers, tore through her carefully constructed barriers designed to keep her from falling apart. She couldn’t work against Rittenhouse if she was in pieces. So she averted her eyes, catching only his annoyed glimpses in her peripheral. She didn’t throw herself at Flynn, forcing him into the Lifeboat, saving his life this time. What more did they want from her? She had no doubt Wyatt had orders to kill both of them if she went rogue.
No, she stuck to the plan. Flynn would be waiting for her in the bunker when they landed. He just would. If not, she’d burn down the world to bring him back. She didn’t care anymore. They’d taken everything from her, she had nothing left to lose.
“I told Emma we should have left you behind.” Wyatt sighed, punching in the coordinates. “You could use a good mind wipe.”
Lucy growled, unsure where the sound came from, but it fit the situation, so she accepted the visceral reaction. “I did what was asked of me, now do me the favor of shutting the fuck up.”
They tumbled through time and her heart slammed against her ribcage, a combination of angry adrenaline and unadulterated hope. They’d land and he’d be alive. They’d fix this together. She should’ve suspected Wyatt the moment he brought Jess into the bunker, but they'd all chalked it up to the fact that his dead wife wasn’t so dead after all. Any of them would’ve done the same.
Only a Rittenhouse agent would’ve withheld information detrimental to the team.
She should’ve known better. She didn’t. Not until after Flynn died.
The Lifeboat stilled and Lucy’s heart stuck in her throat. Had her clue been enough? Wyatt inputted the opening sequence and the door hissed, the rusty, cool air of the bunker rushing in. He’d be alive. Waiting for her. Waiting to fight at her side where he belonged.
“Mommy, Mommy, Mommy!” A little girl’s voice filtered into the small space. Lucy fumbled with her buckle, hope making her fingers clumsy. Flynn survived and they’d created a family. She couldn’t wait to meet their child. To see his hazel eyes on their daughter’s face. She rushed out, beating Wyatt down the stairs. Scanning the bunker she saw the team: Denise, Rufus, Jiya, they were all alive. Tears streamed down her cheeks as tiny arms wrapped around her knees. Bending down, she picked up the dark-haired little girl with Garcia Flynn’s smile. “Mommy, I missed you!”
Missed you? They shouldn’t have been gone that long. A couple of hours at most.
Denise crossed to meet them, eyeing the tears on Lucy's face. Rufus and Jiya followed close behind, pulling Lucy into a half hug. “How was your honeymoon?”
Honeymoon? Lucy surveyed the bunker, still rusted and creaking, but with a state of the art bank of computers. The kitchen tables now lacquered within an inch of their wooden lives rather than stained linoleum. Plush black couches covered in forest green throw pillows rather than cracked seventies pleather. The changes unsettled her.
Agent Christopher finally noticed the cargo pants and worn t-shirts. The blunt haircut and the circles ringing her eyes. Before she could comment, the little girl in Lucy’s arms squirmed, wriggling out of Lucy’s grasp and running behind her.
Oh god, no. Not Wyatt. She made to turn, but Jiya held out a carefully wrapped box. “This is from me and Rufus. It’s about damn time you two made it official.”
“How’s it feel to be Mrs. Wyatt Logan?” Rufus asked, nudging her with an elbow.
Her stomach plummeted, but before Lucy could formulate a response, the little girl in Wyatt’s arms yelled at the top of her lungs.
“Flynn! Mommy and Daddy are home.”
Flynn? Had he survived after all? Her head whipped to Wyatt, face lined with anger, on the verge of exploding. He let the child slide down his side, fingers twitching to the weapon on his hip.
Denise clucked in disappointment. “Amy, we’ve talked about your indoor voice. Your grandmother would be quite disappointed in you.”
The little girl hung her head in shame, tears hovering on her long dark lashes. Jiya bent down, pulling her in for a hug. “Go let your sister know your parents are back from vacation. You know how she gets when she’s reading. She probably didn’t hear the Lifeboat land.”
Denise finally confronted the obvious. “What’s up with the dystopian chic? That’s not very--” Realization dawned on her face. “You’re them. The future Lucy and Wyatt who came back and gave us the journal. It’s been five years, I’d nearly forgotten.”
“This isn’t our timeline,” Lucy choked out, lost as the present settled over her. She had two daughters, who called Wyatt Daddy even though they were obviously Garcia’s. There’d be only one reason for their names, Flynn and Amy. Lucy obviously failed to save either of them. Again. “How did he die?”
Denise studied the woman before her. She looked exhausted, beaten. Lucy’s shoulders were squared against the worst, but she seemed brittle. As if she had battled for too long. And her first question had still been about Garcia Flynn.
She tried to be tender when answering. “Someone had to go back and take care of Jess. Flynn stole the Lifeboat, sacrificing himself to save Rufus. He didn’t make it back.”
“Didn’t make it back--” She was losing him all over again.
Wyatt glared, cutting her off. “We’ve just returned from that mission. There’ll be time for nostalgia later, we need an update.”
Jiya glanced at Rufus, confused by Wyatt’s brusque attitude, but she didn’t know the world they came from. She’d give him the benefit of the doubt until she got the truth from Lucy. That woman never could keep the truth from her.
“After Flynn removed Jess from the timeline and we had Rufus back, Denise rescued us from dying in North Korea in the fifties. We thought we’d won.” A shadow crossed her expression and Lucy wondered at it. “We were home not more than a week when Ben and Carol told us the truth. Emma survived and made it back to steal the Mothership. She’d been working for Mason Industries the whole time.”
"Mason Industries? Wait, what?" Lucy waited for an explanation. Any explanation would do at this point.
“I still can’t believe he betrayed us,” Rufus said in a hush and Jiya threaded her fingers through his. He gave her a sad smile before continuing. “Luckily, Ben and Carol offered the unlimited resources of Rittenhouse or we’d all pretty much be dead ten times over.”
“We’re working for Rittenhouse?” Lucy sputtered out. Her mother was alive? A wide smile broke out on Wyatt’s face. No, this can’t have happened. Why would any of them agree to work with her parents? Dread ran through her veins. WIth the journal, Rittenhouse had access to everything the team had done to stop them. Where they’d be when. The contacts they made. The people they’d saved. Wyatt and Rittenhouse changed history, but how? They’d never know now. Those versions of Lucy and Wyatt had been overwritten with their return.
Confusion skipped across three faces. Denise found her voice first. “But, of course. You’ve always insisted we were on the right side of history.”
Flynn and Amy came bouncing into the kitchen skidding to a stop at the bottom of the computer platform. Lucy swallowed the bile that rose in her throat. She’d condemned Flynn’s daughters, their daughters, to a life controlled by Rittenhouse. Nothing she had done mattered. In the end, Rittenhouse had won.
Lucy watched Flynn curled into the armchair, book tucked under her chin as she slept, mouth open, drooling on the pages. Next to her in the bed, her twin, Amy, burrowed under an old army blanket, only her dark hair, messy against the pillow, visible.
Could she condemn them to nonexistence?
Would it be better they never lived at all? Or that they grew up, groomed by Rittenhouse for the great white future? Should she risk running? How far would she get with two five year olds who didn’t understand anything that was happening? Trekking over continents under assumed names, jumping at shadows and crying for the man they thought was their father. Should she leave them behind to continue the fight? Find Connor Mason and whatever team he’d cobbled together, abandoning them to Rittenhouse’s indoctrination?
Anyway she looked at it, they were both doomed.
She could let Garcia Flynn go, reveling in the echo of his face reflected in their daughters’. Living a lie to save their girls. Lucy could flood their lives with all her love. Make up for their missing father. It could be enough. He wouldn’t want her to save him at their expense.
They were children, their whole lives ahead of them. They could grow up and choose to fight back. But how could she condemn them to that life? How would she look them in the eye when they found out their father died and she did nothing to save him? That she'd chosen safety, walking away from the mission for fear she'd lose them.
Would they forgive her?
Would she forgive herself?
How many other children would suffer if she let Rittenhouse run rampant? For hundreds of years they’d been winding their tendrils throughout society. Spreading like a plague, threading their sickness through history. With a time machine, they’d wreaked havoc. Four thousand lives during the Trail of Tears. The assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. The Haymarket Bombing. Kent State. Vietnam. How many other tragedies could be laid at their doorstep?
Could she sacrifice the world for the sake of their daughters?
Sacrifice Iris. Lorena.
Neither of them deserved to die. They were little more than pawns, discarded at a specific place and time to terrify a man who instead risked his soul to save their lives. None of that should have happened. But what if it didn’t have to? What if Garcia Flynn had been right all along?
Tabula Rasa. A blank slate.
One death to reboot the system, returning the world to factory settings. Before Rittenhouse insinuated themselves into every hidden corner of history.
One sacrifice. Hers this time, no one else’s.
She crossed to sit on the bed next to Amy, combing her fingers through her daughter’s hair. It soothed the ache etched into her DNA. If only she could stay here. Stop fighting and just… stay.
She stood, reaching to gently retrieve the book from Flynn’s grasp, setting it aside on the desk that served as a nightstand. The little girl mumbled her disapproval, but crawled into her arms.
Lucy allowed herself this. Her daughter, warm and snuggling into her. She lifted the covers and tucked her in next to her sister. Amy twisted in her sleep to curl around her twin, drawing her close. Lucy memorized this moment in case it never came again. However long she had with them, she’d treasure every instant.
Bending down, she kissed both of them, tugging the blanket up to their ears just the way she knew they liked. How she knew it, she couldn’t explain, but their time together was fleeting, she didn’t need an explanation. Just the image of their daughters sleeping peacefully side by side would be enough.
Maybe the universe would see fit to bring them all back together. Maybe not. If she thought too long about it, she’d never leave them. She’d hope that even if they never came back to her, they would find themselves loved by another family. One without the baggage of a tainted bloodline.
Even if no one remembered her, she would remember them.
Lucy shuffled out to the kitchen, looking over the empty couches, the random dvds and water bottles scattered across the surface of the coffee table. So familiar and yet those were not their orange pleather couches with the bar that jammed into your back whenever you tried to get comfortable. She thought of the nights she and Flynn lounged there, watching old movies and sharing a bowl of popcorn. She should’ve held his hand when she had the chance. But they were both afraid.
Lorena could come back as easily as Jess. How could either of them risk what might be between them when it could be broken at any time by Rittenhouse? They’d had such a short time together. How could she ever have known?
She should’ve known.
Rittenhouse had broken them anyway.
If she did this, she’d return to the world a ghost. She’d be alone, but she could give all of them back their lives. Without the manipulations of Rittenhouse, they could just live. There’d be a chance that Rufus wouldn’t meet Jiya, that Agent Christopher might never meet MIchelle, but the risk was worth it to save their lives. To save the world. She wished she could talk to them, but with the team working for Rittenhouse, she had no idea who to trust.
“Lucy, what are you doing up?” Jiya looked down from the computer platform at the exhausted woman staring at the living room in a worn grey t-shirt and pajama pants that puddled around her ankles.
“Couldn’t sleep.” Lucy crossed to the bottom stair, looking up at her one time friend, wanting to trust her so badly, not daring.
Jiya pushed back from the computer and sat on the top step, seeing up close the dark circles ringing her eyes. How long had it been since she’d gotten a good night’s sleep?
“Wanna talk about it?” She scooted over, patting the space next to her. Lucy joined, but didn’t know how to start. How much to say. Jiya helped her out. “I’ll take it you and Wyatt are not together in the timeline you come from.”
A bark of harsh laughter escaped her. “You could say that.”
“That’s gotta suck,” Jiya summed up, giving her a sideways glance. “Especially considering those girls are not Wyatt’s.”
Lucy stilled, afraid to show the least bit of weakness. “I’m not sure what you mean. They called Wyatt, Daddy.”
“They might call him that, but it doesn’t change the fact that Flynn is their father.”
She had no idea how to handle this situation. There was no was no handbook for dealing with protecting the dead love of your life and your children when you came from a timeline where you never so much as held hands. Oh. Until the day he died. But it seemed pointless to hide the fact from Jiya.
“Does everyone know?”
“Rufus is blissfully ignorant. He came back after Chinatown gung-ho about you and Wyatt. He’d forgotten…” she paused, trying to remember what it had been like five years ago. The memories were fuzzy. She told herself it was the five years of visions wearing on her. Seeing what she knew now were alternate timelines. Alternate versions of their lives. Different results from different choices. Sorting through them all took time. “I remember it got bad in the bunker, but afterwards he was so happy, I didn’t want to burden him with any of it.”
Her three years in Chinatown swept over her and she shuddered. Lucy wrapped an arm around her.
“I understand.” And she did. She would’ve done the same thing for Flynn. For any of them really. Until they came for the truth. Then she would tell them the absolute whole of it. She leaned into Jiya, not caring at the moment whether she could trust her or not. They’d been friends for so long, she just needed the comfort. She wanted Flynn. She wanted the life they almost had in this timeline.
Jiya laid her head on Lucy’s shoulder. “Denise probably knows about the girls, but she’d never say anything. You know this Wyatt better than me, but the old Wyatt didn’t know. I don’t think he even considered they weren’t his. Flynn died so soon afterwards and you seemed fine, so he never questioned.”
“I was fine?” Lucy asked in disbelief. How could she ever be fine after Flynn died?
“You were quieter than usual, but when we got back from North Korea, when you and Wyatt got together, it’s like you just decided to be happy. I didn’t want to fault you for that.” Jiya pulled back and studied Lucy, thinking about the nights right after she’d gotten Rufus back, she’d been lost in her own happiness. She noticed Lucy staying up most nights watching old movies, but it didn’t seem unusual at the time, so she didn’t pry. Later, when they found out she was pregnant, Jiya figured it’d been hormones. But there had been.... “I found you crying in front of the Lifeboat late one night after a mission. I think it was the OK Corral. You told me you were worried about the pregnancy and I think you were. But I think now maybe it might’ve been more than that.”
Of course it would’ve been. She would’ve protected their girls even if that meant letting them call another man father. Had she suspected Wyatt in this timeline as well or had he changed her history to make her more compliant? Altered her history just enough that she’d agree to marry him? Wiped her memory to make her forget how much she loved Flynn?
She stopped herself. In this timeline, she and Flynn had at least started to make a go of it before he died. The girls were proof enough of that. Maybe it happened the way it almost happened in hers. The night she brought a bottle of vodka to his room and they stayed up all night, holding back from falling into each other's arms. Maybe not. It’d all disappear with one choice. Hers.
All she’d have left would be her memories.
“It might’ve been more than that,” Lucy agreed. Her body felt heavy, as if a hundred bricks had been tied to her and left to drag behind as she sludged forward. Where would she go afterwards? She’d have to build a life from scratch with no help from anyone. But she wasn’t a damsel, never would be. She’d go to a time before technology when she could create a life from nothing more than her own wild imagination.
“You gonna tell me what’s going on?” Jiya leaned back, the grating of the platform digging into her elbows.
Lucy stood, brushing herself off and meaning to hurry away, but this was Jiya. She couldn’t tell her the truth, but she didn’t want to walk away. She missed her friend. And soon enough she’d be on her own.
She leaned against the railing. “You’re working late. It’s almost midnight.”
Jiya gave her a look that said, so this is how it’s gonna be then? “Upgrading the Lifeboat.”
“Oh?” Lucy tried not to glance in the direction of the time machine, not wanting to give away her plan, but she didn’t know how long she could play along with this version of reality. Wyatt would suspect her sooner rather than later.
Jiya laughed and gave her another look that said, this really is how you want to play this, okay. “Yeah, you brought back a Windows XP Lifeboat to a Windows 12 world. It needs some work.”
“What kind of work?”
An offhanded question Jiya saw right through. “It’s inconvenient to have to charge the Lifeboat the old-fashioned way. The Mothership can make several jumps in a row, leaving us playing catchup with Emma and Mason. Rufus and I created a solar panel sheeting that allows for constant charging. Won’t matter where you park her, she’ll be ready to go whenever you need her. Well, within reason. I wouldn’t stretch it more than five or so jumps in a row. You drain her battery and you’ll need a good twelve hours of charge time. And sunshine, you'll always need sunshine.”
Lucy nodded along, intrigued by the improvement, but needing to know how long she had to wait before she could steal the time machine. Her brain finally caught up.
“Wait. What do you mean, whenever I need her?”
“How long have we been friends?” The computer behind Jiya beeped and she pushed off the grating and stood, keying in the next sequence of upgrades. “Do you remember that first day? You walked in like an awestruck bunny. They whipped you into a costume, gave you only the barest of instructions, and bundled you into a time machine to go save the world.”
She’d been so young. They all had. “Nine years ago my whole life changed. Nothing was the same after that first trip. Walking into Mason Industries was like falling down the rabbit hole.”
“You mean Rittenhouse Industries.” Another patented Jiya look, ha, I knew you'd trip up .
“Yes, of course. Of course. Rittenhouse Industries.” The words choked her. She started down the stairs. “I’m sorry, I’ve been a bother. I’ll let you get back to it.”
“Lucy.” Jiya followed her down the stairs and into the kitchen. “Lucy, stop. I can tell something’s wrong.”
Lucy searched for an excuse. “I’m just overly tired, that’s all.”
“I’m calling bullshit.” She reached for Lucy’s hand, wrapping her fingers tight around her friend’s. “Something’s wrong. Really wrong. So wrong you won’t talk about it, but it’s hanging off of you. I see it in the way you scan the room like you’re expecting the worst. I don’t know what world you come from or what you’ve lived through, but you need someone or you’re going to break.”
She stared down at Jiya’s fingers and then back up at her face. Her friend waited patiently to see what she did next, not pushing, just there for whatever she needed. She’d never have this again. The thought broke her.
“I’m so scared, Jiya." Lucy collapsed into the nearest chair. Hiccuping sobs chased the words that tumbled out of her. "I don’t know what I expected handing Rittenhouse the journal. I’d lost all of you and I thought, what could it hurt? I underestimated them and gave them the roadmap to change it all so that no one was standing in their way. It’s all wrong and it’s my fault. If I’d only fought harder, but I just wanted him back. I need him alive and fighting by my side because I don’t know if I can do it without him.”
It all came out in a confused jumble and at the end of the confession, Jiya rose, walked to the cupboard and pulled down a half full bottle of whiskey.
“Start at the beginning.”
They finished the bottle and made a pot of coffee.
“So you’re going to erase yourself from history by killing your ancestor, David Rittenhouse.” Jiya sipped from her now cold cup of coffee, feet tucked under her on the plush couch, throw pillow tucked into her side. “Changing the last two hundred and fifty or so years of American history, but also hopefully ridding the world of an evil organization bent on world domination. I mean--that’s a lot. You won’t have anyone.”
“I’m used to being alone.” She and Wyatt barely spoke except on missions. There was no one else. “It’s my penance. I went along with everything because I couldn’t escape. It got too hard to try so I did what I could from the inside, thwarting missions when possible, saving one or two people when it wasn’t, but the truth is I was tired and I missed you guys.”
“But you’ll keep on missing us.” Jiya set down her cup and motioned for Lucy to lay her head on her lap, grabbing an old orange afghan from the back of the couch, and covering both of them after Lucy got comfortable. Jiya ran her fingers through Lucy’s hair, soothing her as only an old friend can do. “Are you sure there’s no other way?”
Lucy rolled onto her back, staring up at the rivets in the seam of the ceiling. Saving Jess and turning her into a sleeper. That required her to stay in her own timeline far longer than she was able. She needed to survive long enough to actually change things. Prevent Mason from creating the time machine in the first place. How could she stop something like that without knowing the exact instant the idea came into being? And even then...
“Am I sure? No, I’m not. But I wouldn’t even know where to begin to fight them in this world. They’ve changed something that rewrote all your memories. We never would have willingly worked with RIttenhouse. Giving them the journal tipped the scales and I can’t see another way to balance them. But I also don’t know how much of history will change because of this. All of the terrible things they inflicted on history could still happen. Humanity might suck on a basic level.”
“But it’ll be just people and their choices,” Jiya pointed out. “It won’t be manipulated by a 19th narcissist with a master plan and access to a time machine.”
“Bright side?” Lucy tilted her head back to look at Jiya.
Lucy lifted her upper body as Jiya adjusted so that her legs stretched out to rest on the coffee table in front of her.
“You might never meet Rufus.” Jiya brushed a strand of hair away from her face. “I’m going to do what I can, but there’s no guarantee. You might end up complete strangers whose lives never intersect. I wouldn’t blame you if you ran straight to Denise and outed me. She’d have me locked up quick enough for sure. I’m about to steal a time machine.”
“I wouldn’t do that.”
“I wouldn’t do it if you asked me not to.” Lucy yawned in Jiya’s lap, curling onto her side. She meant it. She’d stay here, being mother to Garcia Flynn’s daughters and fighting against Rittenhouse no matter how futile or lonely. She’d do it.
Jiya didn’t envy Lucy’s decision, nor the burden she’d take on if she went through with this. Giving up everything she’d known to save people who wouldn’t remember she existed.
“I think I knew this was coming.” She pulled the blanket up, half curling into the corner of the couch. There were parts of my visions that I never understood. Places I’ve never been...I don’t know, they felt off somehow. Like we were all living completely different lives. I could never remember them after, but the feeling clung to me like there’d been a great disturbance in the force.”
A sleepy grin tugged up the sides of Lucy’s mouth. “Still making Star Wars references, that’s reassuring.”
“Always.” Jiya draped an arm around Lucy’s shoulders. “But seriously, I think that’s why I started right away on the upgrades. I can’t tell you what to decide, but the Lifeboat will be ready for you when you need her.”
“Thank you, Jiya.” Lucy’s eyes started to close as she burrowed into her friend’s side.
“I’m glad I got to know you.” Jiya pressed a kiss from her lips to her fingers and then to Lucy’s forehead. “I really hope we meet again.”
Twenty-four hours later she ascended the steps to the Lifeboat, turning back to look at the bunker for the last time. She knew the plan. There were no goodbyes to make. Agent Christopher and Wyatt would try and stop her if they knew. Rufus...Rufus would say there was another way, but she knew better. She couldn’t say goodbye to the girls. She’d read them two stories before bed and they’d fallen asleep curled into her side. She’d take the memory to her grave. Jiya and Lucy said all they needed to say earlier in the evening when they had a spare moment alone.
“Don’t worry about me and Rufus. We’ll find each other again.” A quick hug. “Don’t ever be afraid. You’re the Unstoppable Lucy Preston. You’ve never backed down before, don’t start now. Wherever you land, whatever you do,” she pulled back, eyes lit with fire and promise, “ whatever you do, enjoy your life. You’ll be free.”
Was she playing God? Maybe a little. When they first recruited her she thought she’d stop at nothing to preserve history. “It’s not perfect, but it’s ours.” But it wasn’t, not really. Who knows how much history Rittenhouse changed before Garcia Flynn stole a time machine and set everything in motion. They had no way of knowing. Not without going through every moment in history with a fine tooth comb. They didn't have the time or the manpower.
The Lifeboat door hissed closed, leaving behind forever the bunker with its leaky pipes and rusted, squeaky hinges, wIth its ghosts and regrets, with its forgotten yesterdays and tomorrows that would never come. Lucy reached for her own seatbelt, glancing over her shoulder at the seat diagonal from hers. A worn, brown leather journal embossed with her initials waited in Garcia Flynn’s space.
Her belt clicked, the sound loud in the empty Lifeboat. The keys of the console tapping as Lucy inputted the coordinates. She hesitated on the final keystroke, glancing at the journal, praying Flynn would forgive her. Completing the sequence when she realized he wouldn’t remember her, there’d be no need for forgiveness. Time roared around her, rattling her body as she tried to calm her racing heart.
Lucy Preston would do what needed to be done. Take down Rittenhouse. See her friends settled. Say goodbye to Garcia Flynn. She had no idea how she was going to do it, but she would. He would be happy. They would all be happy.
And they’d be free.