“Morning sickness” was a damned lie.
Jessica sat back on her heels and tiredly wiped her mouth with a wad of industrial-strength toilet paper. She hadn’t checked the clock as she bolted urgently for the bathroom, but it definitely wasn’t morning. Or if it was, it was only, like, technically morning. Which somehow was just worse.
The door banged open behind her. She looked up as Wyatt, wearing just his sweatpants, stumbled sleepily into the bathroom. “Go back to sleep, Wyatt, I’m just barfing,” she muttered.
His devotion to being Supportive™ was pretty impressive, in his typical, hard-headed, Wyatt way. But he also wasn’t really supposed to leave her alone. Hell, she wasn’t even really supposed to be here, except they didn’t know where else to put her.
She’d been eager for the new era of Rittenhouse led by Emma , instead of by people with massive tradition-shaped sticks up their asses. But then Emma had murdered Rufus. I n cold blood .
Jessica wasn’t a stranger to killing for Rittenhouse. But Rufus wasn’t a soldier, he wasn’t Wyatt or Flynn– just like Jiya wasn’t. Had he ever hurt anyone in his life? And Emma had just gunned him down.
Kidnapping Jiya and stealing the Lifeboat had been Jessica’s way of fixing things so no one got hurt. But Emma calling the shots was going to be solving every problem with literal shots. And not the kind from Jessica’s old job.
So she’d managed to temporarily disable the Mothership and flee. She’d texted Wyatt, called him, begging him to come get her.
And… and he had.
Not alone, though she hadn’t realized he had Flynn with him for backup until they were back at the team’s new safehouse. And not happily. To say she hadn’t been welcomed with open arms was the understatement of the fucking century, but it was what she deserved.
There’d been a tense hour in the new safehouse, about what to do with her, until she’d barfed in their kitchen sink – thanks, “morning” sickness. T he whole actually pregnant thing had apparently defused the tension, and … here she was. Not really wanted. Wyatt wasn’t supposed to let her out of his sight except when he was on a mission, and then Agent Christopher took over. But she knew too much for them to send her away.
But her disabling the Mothership had given the team a chance to save Rufus. And watching him climb down from the Lifeboat, the funny feeling in her chest had warned her that her world was just beginning to turn upside down. Because Rittenhouse had raised her not to question them. But…
But they were wrong .
Wyatt’s foot-shuffling snapped her out of it.
“Wyatt, seriously, I can–” The bone-deep anxiety of her last thought, of thinking something forbidden –
She leaned forward fast.
As she brought up what felt like every meal she’d ever eaten, plus a few Mama had eaten while Jessica was still in the womb, Wyatt’s gentle hands brushed her hair back and held it out of the way. She tried to retch gratefully.
Finally, she sat back on her heels and tried not to whimper. H ow had the fucking human race survived this long.
Wyatt filled her mug at the tap and handed it to her. She rinsed her mouth out. “Thanks,” she muttered, a little unsure. She never knew how much of this Wyatt was doing because he wanted to, and how much because… well. Because he was supposed to be making sure she didn’t kill them all in their sleep.
But the guy had gotten up with her at Godawful o’clock, and made sure her hair didn’t fall in the toilet, so.
The door opened. Wyatt spun fast, stepping in front of Jess while she was still wiping her mouth. This whole pregnancy thing was slowing her down. If not for Wyatt, if a threat came through that door, she would’ve been dead by the time…
… by the time Flynn put a mug down on the vanity?
She blinked at him. From the way Wyatt was standing, he had the same look on his face. “Did you just… walk in on me in the bathroom?” she asked.
“Ginger tea,” Flynn said, like it should have been self-explanatory.
“… Flynn, I have no idea what time it is, but it’s too late for this.”
“It’ll help with the nausea,” he said. “The whole house can hear you throwing up.”
“So sorry to inconvenience everyone,” she muttered, rolling her eyes. But she reached for the mug.
Wyatt started to put his hand out. Flynn raised a sardonic eyebrow. Jessica took the mug anyway. Flynn was smart enough that if he wanted her dead, it wouldn’t be like this–
She nearly choked. Wyatt tensed. “Strong,” she coughed.
“Yes, that’s the idea.” Flynn turned on his heel.
He stopped, back still to them.
“How’d you… where’d you…”
Silence. “Lorena had awful morning sickness,” he said finally, and walked away.
Lorena. His wife. Jess had known Rittenhouse had murdered her. Carol had called it a necessary evil. Conveniently, no one had bothered to tell her that there’d been a daughter, too. Iris. A five-year-old, murdered in her bed.
Wyatt closed the door and looked down at her, visibly concerned. “You sure you should be drinking that?”
“It’s helping.” A bit of a growl slipped into her voice. Wyatt was smart enough not to push it.
He squatted beside her. “Can I get you anything?”
She shook her head. Ice chips were her go-to remedy, but the tea was helping even better than they usually did. “Thanks, though.”
“C’mon,” he said after another minute, and held out his hands. “Let’s get you off the floor.”
She let him pull her to her feet, staggering a bit. God, she felt like…
She was barely even showing, yet, but she couldn’t help it. She made a whale noise.
Wyatt looked startled, and then snorted. She snickered. And then they were laughing together, cracking up at her totally immature moment.
Finally, she wiped her eyes. It felt good to be tearing up from laughter and not from barfing, this time.
Wyatt hesitantly put his arms around her. She leaned into him, and let him stroke her hair.
“’m sorry our kid’s being so difficult,” he murmured.
She snorted. “Yeah. Weird, when both its parents are so, you know, quiet and obedient.”
Wyatt snorted, too. “Think you could sleep some more?” he asked after another minute. “Before that stuff wears off?”
“You had me at sleep.” She yawned widely, then staggered for the door, holding on tight to her mug.
He straightened the covers she’d tangled in her mad rush to the bedroom, and even fluffed her pillow. She looked at him helplessly. That was sweet.
She climbed into bed, and groaned. She drained the last of the ginger tea, quickly, and left the mug on the nightstand. Then she slumped back against the mattress.
Wyatt’s fingers were gentle against her hair. “Helping, or not?”
“Helping,” she muttered, too tired and miserable to question it.
“I’ll ask Flynn for that recipe in the morning,” he promised.
She sighed, and nodded, and inched a little closer to his hand. Supportive Wyatt. Weirdly helpful roommate. Maybe that would be enough to get her through this night, anyway.
The end of the couch dug into his ankles as Garcia stared at the ceiling.
The Logans had gone to bed. The main room was lit only by the light over the kitchen sink. He could still smell the scent of the ginger tea lingering. Just like it had when he’d made it for Lorena.
He didn’t try to fight the ache of those memories. Not when they were all he had left.
He lost track of time, because it didn’t matter. Only when he heard quiet footsteps did he pull himself back to the here and now.
Time was Lucy never would have checked the shadows anywhere, let alone in the closest thing she had left to a home. But she saw him lying there almost at once. Maybe he should have sat up, or done anything to appear more animated than a corpse. But his limbs felt like lead, and he only managed to move his legs towards the back of the couch.
Lucy correctly interpreted that as an invitation. She perched on the edge of the couch, eyes wide and dark and concerned. “Are you all right?”
He opened his mouth. Then he closed it again. What could he say? How could he tell her he was drowning in memories? That Jessica Logan’s pregnancy was bringing back all the ghosts of the hopes he and Lorena had once held so dear?
He looked Lucy in the eye, and realized he didn’t need to say a word.
She held out her hand. He looked from it to her face, but she let her lack of explanation speak for itself. She wanted him to trust her. And he did, of course. Gently, he curled his fingers around her small ones.
“C’mon,” she said.
He obeyed her gentle tug, got up, and followed her to the exit. At least in this safehouse, they were allowed to leave. Jiya, with the steel newly imbued in her by what she’d endured in the past, had faced down Agent Christopher and pointed out that confinement hadn’t protected them–
Everyone had tried very hard not to look at Wyatt during that part of the conversation. Well, most of them. Garcia hadn’t seen any point in trying.
– and demanded that they get entrance and exit privileges. Agent Christopher, rather unexpectedly, had yielded.
Her decision had probably been influenced by the fact that they were twenty miles from civilization. So the team could come and go, but there wasn’t anywhere to go to.
He shoved his feet in his shoes, and followed Lucy outside, alert for danger. Nowhere to go… but something to see.
The stars, with a number, clarity, and brilliance that were so rare in other places, steadied him. He straightened up, took a deep breath, and let his shoulders drop. This was what he needed. To be pulled out of himself. To be reminded that Rittenhouse’s evil was not insurmountable. To be jolted out of the overwhelming closed loop of his grief.
Lucy smiled at him over her shoulder– and Lucy’s smiles were the opposite of steadying, but the resulting warmth in his heart nevertheless did him good. She led him to a grassy spot not far from the front door, still inside the guards’ security perimeter, and they sat down. Summer had finally reached even this high in the Sierras; the night was cool, but not cold.
He stretched out on the grass, and dug a few rocks out from under his back. “Thank you,” he breathed, blinking back a few tears of relief, after a few moments of letting the stars soothe him. Lucy squeezed his hand, which did nothing for his equanimity, but was pleasant anyway.
“That damned time machine complicates everything,” he said after a while. He wasn’t really sure in how much detail he wanted to talk about it, but if he wanted to talk about it to anyone, it would, of course, be Lucy.
“Including grief,” she said quietly.
He turned his head. She was watching him steadily. He really should stop being surprised by the depths of her perception.
“Including,” he affirmed slowly, “grief.”
“I can’t fix that.”
He could sense the effort it took her to say it. Lucy liked to fix things. She believed in a better world. It hurt her when the world resisted.
“But you’re not alone,” she finished.
That hit him hard. He had to close his eyes, but he squeezed her hand so she didn’t think she’d done wrong. “Thank you,” he finally managed to repeat, voice husky.
You’re not alone. He had been so alone, for so long, even when surrounded by people. Now, with Lucy–
He was never alone when Lucy was near.
That sense of profound relief went as deep as the earlier pain had…
His eyes snapped open, but he lay still, searching for the danger. He didn’t find any, only the awareness that his back was stiff, and that the rest of him, except for his left hand, was cold. He turned his head, and blinked at Lucy.
“Sorry… you were asleep a while.” She sounded amused. “I can’t drag you inside.”
His mouth curved into its first smile in hours. “Were you going to try?”
That earned him The Eyebrow, which he secretly enjoyed very much. Or maybe it wasn’t a secret; he was the one who’d read her journal, but sometimes he felt she could read him like a book.
He rolled gingerly to his knees and helped her up, feeling guilty. Lucy was self-sacrificing to a fault; she wouldn’t’ve woken him until she were uncomfortable. And her other hand, when he grasped it, was indeed cold.
Without thinking about it too much, he clasped both her small hands in his, and began to gently chafe them. She breathed in sharply. He immediately loosened his grip so she could pull away if she wanted to.
Rather nervously, he eased his tongue over his top lip. “Did I, uh, hurt you?” He didn’t see how he could have, but he’d hurt her enough already. Far too much. And it would be just like her to pick up some small injury on a mission and not mention it.
“No.” Her voice sounded odd. “You’re just, uh.” She swallowed. “Warm.”
Ah. That was all right, then. He continued, until her hands were less chilled.
“Thank you,” she said softly. Even in the moonlight, he could see her searching his expression, for what, he didn’t know. “Thank you… Garcia.”
… oh. He still held her hands. Had she felt that warmth that had run through him?
“Is it all right if I call you that?” she added, the surety of her compassion fading into that equally familiar self-doubt.
“Is it all right if you call me by my name?” He smirked, trying to cover his reaction.
She refused to yield. “No one else calls you Garcia. Is that by your choice?”
He stared down at her, aware that he was staring, aware that they were both kneeling awkwardly, aware that he was still holding her hands. “No,” he said softly. “You can call me that. If you want.”
Her smile was small, sweet, almost shy. “Okay.”
If they stayed like this, he might be tempted to do something crazy like– well. He’d already hurt her far too much. So instead he stood, protesting knees reminding him of every day of his age, and helped her to her feet.
“Will you sleep?” she asked softly, when they were back inside.
He hesitated, not wanting to lie to her, and knowing she’d catch an evasion. “I’ll try.”
“Come sleep with me,” she offered.
… it was probably vitally important he remember how words worked, and soon.
“Just sleep,” she added quickly, and of all things, it was the faint flush on her face that nearly undid him. “If you think that would help. Not to be… alone.”
They had a novel’s worth of things unspoken between them. Some were the sweeter for it. Some were ticking time bombs. But he would not ask her to voice any of them tonight.
So, when he did finally find some words, he chose them with care. “If you, ah, would be all right with that…”
“Do you think I would have offered if I wouldn’t?” she challenged him.
It was his turn not to back down. “I think you routinely offer people too much, and don’t think enough about your own comfort.”
She opened her mouth. Then she closed it again. It was also his turn to brandish raised eyebrows.
“That may or may not be true,” she said, trying to salvage her dignity, “but it’s not what’s happening here.”
His mouth twitched. “Then I’ll join you in a moment.”
His heart beat a little too hard as he changed into the clothes he wore to sleep. It wasn’t some illicit hope of something besides “just sleep.” No; Lucy Preston could turn his bones to water with one completely platonic touch. She could level him with the relentless compassion she extended to everyone but herself. She was a hurricane, and she could wreck him just by seeing him, really seeing him… and staying anyway.
As she was doing now.
He rapped lightly on her door and let himself in when she told him to. She was already in bed, reading a biography of Ella Baker. She smiled up at him, a little sleepily, and suddenly it felt so normal to slip under the covers on the other side of the bed.
Should that scare him? Maybe. But he didn’t care.
She glanced past him. “Oh– could you pass me my bookmark?”
He recognized Agent Christopher’s handiwork in the bit of knitting on the nightstand, with which Lucy marked her place with endearing care. He held out his hand, and she gave him the book to place on the nightstand. This must be her side normally; the rooms were big enough, here, for beds that actually had sides.
“Shall I, ah, get the light?”
When she nodded, he reached up and turned off the lamp. It took a moment for his eyes to adjust to the darkness, and the quiet felt very…
“Kick me if I snore,” he said, lightly, when the preciousness of the moment became too much.
He hesitated. “Lucy.”
“Thank you. For everything. Tonight.” He paused again, searching for the right words. “It… you made it… you made it, uh, easier.”
When he heard her roll over, he looked towards her, though it was too dark to see her. “I told you,” she said softly. “You’re not alone.”
He fumbled over a response. Did she know how much that meant to him? He thought about the reason that she might. “You know that, uh, goes both ways, right?”
“I do.” The ease with which she said it, the smile he could hear in her voice– it was one of the best things she could have given him.
“Good night, Lucy,” he murmured.
“Good night, Garcia,” she whispered.