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An Unsavory Proposition

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Federal Prison in Oakland, CA

“Do you have any ability to do this on your own?”

Seriously, how incompetent are these people? It isn’t Lucy’s fault, she’s a historian. If there’s no historical event that she can pinpoint, the others ought to step up, but they’ve all relied on Lucy too much. Because Google is in fact a thing.

Yes, okay, so it’s not like Flynn had done it on his own, either, he relied on Lucy’s journal, but that was different. (He’s not really sure how, but it must be.) She’d meant for him to do so, frankly, manipulated him into it. He might be bitter, but he’s just survived an assassination attempt, he’s in prison thanks to them, and they apparently want to treat him like a gumball machine—insert a piddling amount of treasure and out pops a treat, whatever it is they need to know. He’s ready to be done playing that game.

Except that it’s damned inconvenient, but thanks to that spoon shank, Flynn has realized that he wants to live. Agent Christopher isn’t exactly the person he’d choose to express it to, but she’s the only one with the power to get him out, so he tries to spell it out as a necessary trade. Help in exchange for his freedom only.

Agent Christopher isn’t biting, but Lucy might be. It’s hard to tell. Though she looks a little more lively than on her previous visit, her eyes are still mostly blank. After some more back and forth, Lucy finally gets fed up with trying to convince Agent Christopher to release him, or so it seems.

“Let me talk to him. Alone.”

“Hell no, Lucy.”

Flynn bites his tongue to keep from echoing Christopher’s objection. His time alone in prison has bizarrely given him time to grieve, time to make…if not peace with his losses, then at least a grudging acceptance that it is how it is, at least for now. Lucy has a way of prodding at his pressure points, however, and she is well aware that she is one of them. He doesn’t want to beg for his life, for his freedom, but how is he to keep his walls up if he is alone with her and her ability to see too much in him?

“Look, you’re worried if Flynn gets out, he’ll kill us all, steal the Lifeboat, etc. etc., right? And you know he’ll only talk to me, that’s why you brought me. Let me do my job.”

There is an interesting subtext here that he doesn’t quite understand. While the agent is the boss, in charge…in this moment, she’s not. Not with Lucy. At least it's not just him. Christopher sighs, resigned, and drops her shoulders.

“What should I tell my superiors? That I’m letting a civilian interrogate a terrorist?”

Flynn’s gut clenches at the word, because despite his crimes which he admits are many, it’s not true and he balks at the unfairness of it. He moves to speak, but Lucy beats him to it. “He’s not a terrorist and you know it. I don’t care what you tell them. Tell them it’s an interrogation by a civilian, tell them it’s a conjugal visit for all I care.”

He feels his eyebrows shoot up, and watches as Agent Christopher raises her hands in defeat. He wipes his face of all expression as she turns to him, eyes narrowed.

“You do anything to hurt her, I’ll kill you myself.”

He merely blinks at her, but either the agent takes it as agreement or figures his word is meaningless anyway, and she exits.

Lucy is biting her lip when he turns to her, and he hardens his heart toward her. His curiosity is aroused, though. What exactly is she trying to accomplish here?

“I’m trying to get you out. You could at least try to help your own cause, you’ve got to work with her,” she answers his unspoken query and he snorts at her. Christopher has no intention of setting him free. Lucy knows it.

“She’s not letting me out. And ‘conjugal visit’? If you wanted me for my body, all you had to do was ask,” he sneers. It’s their usual banter, but his heart is beating faster because her true agenda here is unclear.

“Will that get you to help us? Is that what you want?” Lucy snaps back with a bit of an edge that he’s glad to hear, because at least she’s showing some life.

She can’t be serious. But if there is one thing he’s learned, it’s that despite reading Lucy’s deepest feelings and thoughts in her journal, he still has no ability to anticipate her actions. She has subverted almost all of his expectations, particularly when it counted most. Rufus? Easy. Wyatt? Child’s play. Agent Christopher? However much he holds a grudge against her, he would have taken the same actions, once upon a time. Lucy? She remains unpredictable.

Flynn rolls his eyes because in no way is she serious.

And then she sidles closer until they are toe to toe and tosses her baseball cap at the bed next to him (she misses, he hears the soft thwack of the brim bouncing as it hits the floor), and he feels a bolt of shock slice through him. She means it. Shit, she means it.

He stops breathing. It’s not like he hasn’t imagined it, because of course he has. A beautiful spitfire of a genius with a stubborn streak a mile wide, an even wider compassionate streak, with more bravery than any history professor who would geek out over Harry Houdini had a right to…he hadn’t really had a choice. Add to it that she’s saved him and given him hope several times over, and of course he wants her, even as he hates himself for it. She’s seen it, he already knows. She took advantage of that unforgiveable soft spot for her and betrayed him.

Still, the implication that she thinks this is all she’s good for to him, or that he would ever, ever, consider it like this makes him see red—at her, at himself, at her team, but mostly at Rittenhouse and her mother. Flynn finally inhales, sets his jaw, and glares into the distance as she speaks.

“If that’s what will fix this, take it.”

Out of practice with women and even in as messed up a situation as this is, with her empty eyes burning two holes in his cheek, Flynn still knows better than to say what he actually thinks, which is that he can’t imagine a less appealing proposition. Not from her. Lucy, her golden brown eyes fiery with passion, the magnetic current between them zinging through their veins, that compassion and understanding that she somehow has for him despite everything, her actually wanting him—that is what he wants, an impossible fantasy he knows he’ll never be gifted. This Lucy, with her eyes void and dead, folding in on herself, numb to everything around her—he’s not sure she’s even capable of want. He clenches his teeth and tries not to react.

Then her small hand lands on his bare forearm and he can’t help but jump. Dammit. Dammit.

It’s the first time he’s been touched with anything more than detached professional efficiency, contempt, or violence since, well, the last time Lucy touched him. Even then she was the only one since Lorena.

Flynn’s trying to hold still, scared to death of what she might do next. However little he wants to, if she touches him again, he might break. Not to do what she’s suggesting, because that’s one thing he’ll never do, not like this, not to himself or to her. He’s more likely to cry all over her and beg her to get him out. And he’d like to hold on to his illusions of dignity as much as possible, since they’re pretty much all he’s got at this point.

He is staring at a string hanging from the shoulder seam of her too-large sweatshirt. Did she lose her clothes when they took her? It’s trivial, but she always dressed nicely, looking perfect for the occasion no matter when or where she was, and he feels an odd twinge of regret at the loss.

“Okay, if that isn’t what you want: kill me.”

He doesn’t even register what she’s said for a full minute, because it’s so ridiculous, he can’t take it in. When his brain finally does hear it, all he can do is look at her and project “what the hell?!” with his eyes, because his voice isn’t cooperating at the moment.

Lucy is far too calm for someone discussing their impending death, and the thought that she’s taunting him prompts him to speak for the first time since before she made her first ludicrous suggestion.

“If you want to mock me, you can just get the hell out.”

She steps next to him and perches on the edge of the bed next to his uninjured side, actually bumping him over with her hip, as though she’s simply joining him in a restaurant booth. He hisses as he scoots over to accommodate her and she winces and starts to apologize before stopping herself.

“I’m not mocking you. If the team didn’t have me…we’re already lost enough as it is and we need your help, even with me. Without me, they’d be forced to use you for information.”

There are so many holes in her logic, even aside from the fact that she has to know at this point that he would never kill her, never murder her in cold blood like she’s laughably advocating. He has to focus on that for the moment, because he’s starting to feel like she really is asking for it. Obviously he isn’t going to do it, and she has to know that, right? He could have killed her twenty times over before, technically, but he couldn’t, and she has to know it. Doesn’t she?

“That’s…Lucy…Wyatt and Rufus, Agent Christopher, they’d just work with me because you were gone? After I kill you? And how exactly are you suggesting I do it, while I’m shackled? Beat and kick you to death like some abusive husband?”

He addresses the logistical problems, because he’s hoping it will call her bluff, that she’ll prove she doesn’t want to die.

She scoffs at this. “We both know shackles wouldn’t stop you from snapping my neck. You could probably even do it without me feeling any pain. And…I’m Rittenhouse. Kill me, kill my mother, Emma, all the others…and it’ll be over. I need it to be over.”

There’s a waver in her voice now, and it’s almost hopeful, and it’s that which finally breaks his harsh composure. He sighs as he drops his head. It’s not fair of her to do this to him, to put this on him, when even the thought of grabbing her neck roughly…again…makes him want to vomit. What he does want is to yell at her, cry, hug her, and shake her until she wakes up from this fog. And maybe get Agent Christopher to put her on a psych hold. Not that he’s one to talk, but she’s scaring him, and that takes a lot.

Flynn bends low to meet her eyes, and they are filled with self-hatred and a plea for him to end her misery. This kind of empathy, this pain for another—he remembers it from his old life, but he’s not sure he’s ever felt it quite this strong. It’s the same look he has seen in his own eyes enough to recognize.

“What the hell did they do to you, Lucy?”

He meant to growl it at her, to brandish his anger at her like a weapon that might startle her awake, but when he hears it, it just sounds sad.

Lucy’s face flinches and her eyes dart away nervously. A sheen of tears brightens her eyes, and his heart aches for her even as he is terrified of what she might do.

There is a bang at the door then, and Lucy hops up and over to her place, just as Agent Christopher reenters the room. The agent gives them each a once-over, squints as she sees the hat on the floor, then refocuses her glare at him.

“Are you going to help us or not, Flynn?”

He looks down, quickly rebuilding the wall of faux apathy between himself and the two of them. He’ll have to help, at least this once.

“Do either of you have a pen?”

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It’s nighttime when he exits through the guards’ side gate and pulls off the gas mask. He gives himself a moment to breathe deeply of the fresh, cool air as he slips down the utility road to where he sees a dark SUV waiting in the brush. He verifies Agent Christopher is in the driver’s seat and she jerks her head toward the passenger side.

Flynn feels giddy, the thought of freedom hitting him like a drug, and he lets himself enjoy the hit for a moment. Then he pushes it down, because this could easily be a trap—she’s used Lucy to set one before, after all—and even if it’s not, he’s probably just trading one prison for another.

After she has him switch his prison shirt for a dark one and gives him the predictable spiel about how he’d better not make her regret this, if he does anything out of line he’ll wish he were back in this prison, blah, blah, blah, they sit in silence. It grows more and more awkward until he finally has to say something.

“I take it your team made it back from their little trip?”

Her eyes cut to him, professional detachment in place, but he can see in the slight raise of her eyebrows that she’s surprised he cares. He takes it as a victory that at least she doesn’t see how much.

“Yes. They were successful. They planted that package for you when the prison was being completed.”

Lucy. He looks out the side window as he hides his smile at both the relief that she’s okay and her devious mind.

“About Lucy…” she starts.

“Yes?” He snarls defensively and the agent sighs.

“This is all her doing, her plan. She’s convinced that you won’t hurt her or any of the team now that we’re on the same side. So, just…keep that in mind.”

Flynn can’t help but cock his head in confusion, and she finally elaborates.

“She’s been through a rough enough time without you making it harder for her.”

Oh. She’s worried he’s going to hurt Lucy emotionally, if not physically. Sometimes he hates how well he has played his part.

“What happened to her, exactly?” He can't help but ask.

She grimaces. “She…went home to say goodbye to her mother before going to get Amy back. There was a struggle, and Rittenhouse had her for six weeks. We were finally able to repair the lifeboat, and Rufus and Wyatt got her back on a trip to World War I France.” She looks at him to see if he understands the significance and he shakes his head.

Just like him, she’d been so close to getting her life back, and it all went to hell.

“She’s not herself.”

“I know,” Christopher says before she cuts her eyes at him sharply, as if to say “how the hell would you know?!”, but she doesn’t. “I don’t know what it is exactly that makes the two of you understand—or think you understand—each other.”

He blinks slowly. Lucy hasn’t told her about the journal? Not only Lucy, none of them have told her?

“Look, she truly didn’t know I was coming to arrest you. She pretends she’s not, but she’s still angry at me for it. I forget sometimes too, but Lucy isn’t an agent or even a soldier, she can’t spot a tail. Or at least she couldn’t.”

His jaw tightens, even as he knows it’s true. While the Lucy he’d read about in the journal would have known, this Lucy hadn’t gone through the experiences yet that would develop that awareness in her. And he couldn’t have saved his family anyway, not then. Emma would have just killed him, too.

“For some reason, she trusts you. And you didn’t hurt her the other day, so…can I trust that you won’t?”

He impatiently nods his head at the question as a suspicion creeps into his thoughts.

“Did you know what she was going to say the other day?”

“No,” she grumbles. “I couldn’t hear, either, I could see it on camera, but she didn’t even know that. She just said that if you didn’t hurt her then, I would know I could trust you. What did she say?”

He snorts and ignores the query. Could Lucy have played him? He isn't sure. While she’s quick on a mission, playing a role, when she’s herself she usually can’t lie well. Usually she doesn’t even try.

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The night she comes to his room for the first time, vodka in hand, for them to get to know each other, Flynn eventually gives into his urge to ask the question.

Lucy stares into her glass as she answers. “She needed to see that you wouldn’t hurt me if you had the chance.”

The answer isn’t complete, not enough to satisfy him, but he won’t push. Not when she’s finally confiding in him. He wants to prove that she is safe with him in every way.

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Months later, after their successful return trip to Chinatown, Lucy is once again sitting on his bed, (though it’s a different, bigger bed, different safe house, and this time he is gladly reclining next to her) she finally answers in full.

“That time Christopher and I came to see you when you were…when you were in prison?”

Flynn turns wide eyes to her, but she is biting her lip and her eyes are closed. “Yeah?”

“The first thing I said…I knew you wouldn’t take advantage of me like that. It’s not you. I was goading you and trying to break our weird—“ she waves her hands around helplessly “—stalemate. Proving that even if provoked, you wouldn’t do anything. But the second…I didn’t plan to say that.”

She flicks her eyes to him before staring down at her hands. “It’s not that I thought you definitely would…agree. But…well, if you did, it would be over. I figured either outcome worked for me.”

His heart nearly stops. While hoping he was wrong, he had come to that conclusion on his own. Even then, right after that, she had her heart broken. Again. How much could one heart take? How is she still here?

Flynn swallows, treading carefully, because the last thing he ever wants to do is to make her feel judged or talked down to. She’s had enough of that in her life. And as much as he wants to tell her how much she means to him, how much he needs her, it’s not the time. This isn’t about him.

“And now?” He hopes she knows what he means. It’s been pain upon pain for her, but, somehow, lately, she seems more…sure. More confident that maybe one day they will win, more at home in her own skin, more present.

“It…I…” Lucy’s hesitation brings his fear rushing back anew, and he makes himself pause, to not rush to beg her to stay with him. “I can’t say I’m happy, exactly. I hate Rittenhouse as much as ever, and it’s personal, but I don’t feel as much a part of it anymore. Or that it’s not as much a part of me. So just…thanks.”

Honestly, he doesn’t know what she’s thanking him for—for not killing her? For being an ear, a shoulder? He doesn’t really need thanks because he can’t do anything less, not when her broken heart breaks his own. But he ignores that for the more important message that she is okay, with no plans on leaving of her own volition or because of her own recklessness.

“Anytime.” He smiles at her, allows his relief and affection to show.

She scoots over, bumps him with her hip, and smiles.