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Please Forgive Me

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He was going to burn Rittenhouse to the ground.

That was always his intention, of course. From the moment his wife and child fell, his world was narrowed to that single goal: Turning the evil organization into a pile of ash.

Recently, however, his focus had been derailed. The source of his distraction? None other than the heir of Rittenhouse herself. There was, he supposed, some irony in that. Not that he cared to think about that at the moment (or ever).

The only thing in the world more important to him than Rittenhouse, and they took her.

Luckily, she was still in the present. The thought of them vanishing into the past with her, hiding her away from him forever, and letting Emma have free reign to do as she liked was horrifying.

The reality was bad enough.

Jiya was able to track her via traffic cams to an abandoned warehouse just outside of town. The good news: Emma didn't seem to be there. The bad news: At least thirty armed guards were.

Where did Emma even find all of these people? Hadn't Ethan Cahill's information crumbled Rittenhouse in the present? Or was that mission a complete waste of time as well?

He groaned, well aware that distracting himself with petty frustrations wasn't helpful. But it seemed much more pleasant than allowing his mind to wander. Because if he started to really think, he'd imagine what they were doing to her. With her. Were they torturing her? Worse? Had they already tortured and killed her? Was he heading straight for a trap?

(The last question didn't hold his focus for very long. If Lucy was dead, a trap ranked very low on his list of concerns.)

The plan, he reminded himself. Focus on the plan.

It was fairly simple, as plans went. He hoped that wasn't a sign it was doomed to fail.

All he had to do was pose as a guard, rescue Lucy, and escape back to the waiting car without getting caught. Wyatt and Rufus would provide a distraction, and Jiya would drive the car. Easy. Right? (Then again, he probably didn't need to jinx it.)

The car came to a stop, and Jiya shot him a reassuring look. "I'm sure it'll be fine. You'll do great."

He ignored her, pulling a mask over his head. "Be ready," he ordered. "We may need to-"

"Make a quick getaway. I know." She sounded more than a little exasperated, and he bit his tongue. None of this was her fault. He needed to remember that.

He swallowed. "Thank you, Jiya," he managed.

With a ski mask obscuring his face and thick gloves on his hands, it was unlikely that anyone would recognize him. Even Lucy.

At least he could hope.

A single guard stood at the door, and Flynn fought the urge to laugh or kill him on sight. Instead, he cleared his throat, rasping as he spoke. "Emma sent me," he said. "To watch the-” He coughed once, pointedly. “-prisoner."

The guard raised an eyebrow. Clearly, he wasn't quite convinced, but at least he hadn't shot him yet.

"I know," Flynn continued. "This-cold. Losing my-" Three coughs this time, doubling over for effect. His throat ached, and he made a mental note to make himself some tea when he and Lucy returned to the bunker. He didn't want to actually lose his voice. "But you know Emma. No-excuses."

If the summary of his fearless leader's personality wasn't enough to persuade the guard, the final string of hacking coughs was.

"Inside," he ordered.

Flynn took a risk. "Show me?"

The guard hesitated for a long moment before nodding. "Right this way."

If he'd known the Rittenhouse agents were this idiotic, he might have gone with Wyatt's plan. A full-frontal attack might have actually worked, but if Lucy had gotten caught in the crossfire... Well. This was safer.

The hallway was narrow and winding, leading to a back room packed full of guards, with a door that must have led outside. It took him far too many precious seconds to locate Lucy, and he wasn't quite sure he took a breath until his eyes rested on her.

She was in the left corner of the room, arms trapped in a vice grip by what looked to be a slightly younger Rittenhouse agent. Never the damsel in distress, she was fighting him tooth and nail, clawing and pulling fiercely, but to no avail. Still, her determination sent such a surge of pride through him that he had to fight to school his expression.

As he'd hoped, the door guard announced his presence and explained that, due to his "condition," he wouldn't be speaking much. Perfect. His accent wasn't exactly common, and if anything could tip him off, it would be that.

Besides, he trusted Lucy's acting abilities, but if she gave even the slightest hint that she knew him...

Better not to speak.

Satisfied that his job was done, the first guard returned to his post outside, and Flynn leaned back against the wall, mirroring the pose several others had taken. Now, all he had to do was wait for an opportunity to get his hands on Lucy.

That opportunity came sooner rather than later, from none other than Lucy herself. With a final cry, she yanked herself free from the young guard, and bolted for the door.

"Stop her!" The guard cried, and his voice confirmed Flynn's suspicions: Definitely young, may be even in his early twenties.

In an instant, two dozen guns were aimed at her, and his heart actually seemed to stop. They wouldn't kill her, probably, but a bullet could do permanent damage, and it wasn't like they had access to great medical facilities. Fueled by desperation, he lunged forward, catching Lucy in his arms.

She growled, desperately trying to pull free, elbowing him and clawing at him all at once, but he held firm. "Let me go," she hissed, and he pulled her closer, even as his mind screamed to release her. There was no mistaking the terror, the rage she felt as she struggled against him, and it was something he never wanted to cause in her again.

Briefly, he entertained the idea of speaking, just to give her some peace. It would be easy enough to identify himself to her without the others hearing. A single word-even "Stop"-would be enough for her to recognize his voice.

And stop struggling against him.

At which point, the guards would get suspicious and shoot both of them.

Reluctantly, he scrapped the idea. Too risky. There was no way of knowing if she'd understand his plan, and if she died... He couldn't even stomach the thought.

The others lowered their guns, satisfied that their prisoner was secured, and he stifled a sigh of relief.

Meanwhile, Lucy was still fighting wildly, stomping on his foot, scratching at his arms. "Someone's coming for me," she warned, "and he's going to kill you."


Could she possibly mean-?

Her words had the intended effect, if not for the reason she thought. His grip on her loosened in shock, and she took advantage of the moment, pulling free.

It was only a split-second before he caught her, pulling her back against his chest, and she gave a cry that spoke of more than fear. It took him a moment for the sound to register: She was in pain. In his panic, he must have grabbed her hard enough to hurt.

His stomach turned, and he shifted his hold on her, hopefully hiding the fact that he was loosening it. Thankfully, no one seemed to notice.

Before he had time to relax, she dropped her head down, biting down on his arm. Pain shot through him, but he didn't release her, just drew his arm up to catch at her throat, pinning her head back against him. It couldn't possibly have been hard enough to cut off her breathing, but he could only imagine how terrifying it must have been. The urge to release her, to apologize in every language he knew and invent some, was almost overwhelming. Only the mental image of her bleeding out on the floor was enough to freeze him in that sickening position.

Something wet hit his arm, and it took him a moment to recognize it: A tear. She was crying, and it stung worse than her bite.

I'm sorry, he thought, willed her to understand. And he sent up a silent prayer: Please let Rufus and Wyatt make their move soon.

He opened his mouth, a reassurance on the tip of his tongue, but he bit it back resolutely. No reassurances. Nothing that could tip the others off.

One of the guards rolled his eyes, taking a step toward them, and Flynn willed himself not to tense. "If I were you," the man muttered, "I'd just crush her throat and be done with it. Why does Emma even want her alive, anyway?"

Rarely in his life was he grateful for the sound of explosions, but in that second, he could have cried in relief. He did not altogether believe he could have controlled himself in front of that vile man a second longer, not when he could feel Lucy tensing against him, expecting him to do just what he suggested.

While the guards were distracted by the noises outside, he backed out of the room, pulling Lucy along. The explosions sounded like they were right behind the building, and Flynn took a second to hope that Wyatt and Rufus had an escape plan before focusing on guiding Lucy out. She complied, thankfully; perhaps she was more scared of the explosions than of him.

The thought comforted him, in a nauseating sort of way.

Reminding himself that she didn't know it was him and had no reason to trust him (and pointedly not allowing himself to wonder if she'd trust him if she did), he continued to walk, not daring to speak until they were outside, safe from guards and bombs.

The door guard must have run around the back to investigate, because the front yard was blissfully free of Rittenhouse agents.

Finally, they were safe.

He loosened his hold on her, intent on letting her go, but before he could, a new pain shot up his arm. He released her, looking down in shock. She stabbed him, he realized, as she started to run.

"Wait-" He winced, the burning in his limb drowning out his thoughts, but managed to call out. "Lucy!"

She froze. Turned back to him, looking him over with an uncertainty that quickly faded to horror. 'No,' she mouthed, but no sound escaped. She scrambled back over the bumpy ground to him, nearly stumbling more than once.

Relieved that she was no longer trying to escape him, he turned his attention to his arm. The cut was pretty deep, but he didn't think it hit anything vital. Just hurt like crazy, and was gushing blood. Lovely. The blade lay in the grass- she even pulled the knife out, smart girl -and it took him several seconds to recognize it as his own.

A new wave of pride hit him. How in the world had she gotten her hands on that without him noticing? He'd have to talk to her about her aiming for his arm instead of his stomach, but it had been effective, after all.

She reached his side, and he swallowed, looking her over. Her eyes were wide and horrified, and with her facing him, he could see the cuts and bruises littering her face, and the swelling around her left eye. If he ever got his hands on those men, he would tear each of them apart without regret.

"I'm so sorry," she whispered, and his heart broke at the thought of her feeling guilty for defending herself against him. (It was bad enough that she had to do it at all, but for her to feel guilty on top of that was unbearable.)

He shrugged, managing a weak smile. "Hey, it's okay, Lucy. It's just an arm. I do have another one."

The sound that escaped her throat was dangerously close to a sob. Not quite the laugh he was hoping for, but he also didn't have time to comfort her just then. It wouldn't be long before the guards caught up with them.

"We have to go." He needed her to focus on the plan. They could deal with the fallout later. "The car is just at that treeline. Can you run?" It was a bit of an unnecessary question-she'd already proven that she could-but he hoped it would pull her brain out of whatever spiral she was caught in.

"Run?" She blinked, then nodded. "Run. Yeah. Are you-"

"I'll be right behind you," he promised.

After a moment's hesitation, she took off, this time in the direction he pointed out. He followed, glancing back once to see if the guards had arrived. Not yet, but he could hear their voices getting close.

No sooner had he and Lucy made it into the car than the first guard emerged, and Flynn gulped. "Jiya...."

"On it. Hey, what happened to your arm?" She asked almost absently, as she shifted gears and backed down the winding road with more speed than the clunky old vehicle should have managed.

He glanced at Lucy, who paled. "I was stabbed." He shrugged. "Hazard of the job."

If Lucy didn't want anyone to know, it could stay their little secret.

The look she gave him was probably meant to be a grateful smile, but the tears glistening in her eyes ruined the effect.

Jiya rolled her eyes. "Is that your subtle way of telling me not to worry about you?"

He paused. "Didn't realize I was being subtle."

The rest of the drive was quiet. Lucy kept stealing glances at his arm, looking more and more like she was about to pass out each time. He struggled for something to say that would reassure her without tipping Jiya off, but came up terribly short. 'I'm okay,' he mouthed, and Lucy turned away, looking out the window.

Well then.

Reassurances could wait until they were all safe, he supposed.

Back at the bunker, Wyatt and Rufus were waiting. He had the idle thought that Jiya and Wyatt would probably have fun racing each other one day, but didn't dwell on it. Agent Christopher would probably murder him if he suggested it, anyway, and Lucy would help hide his body.

Debriefing was thankfully short. Agent Christopher must have sensed that they were all emotionally and physically spent from the day, because after a brief rundown of events, she waved them away. "Get some rest," she ordered. "You've all earned it."

Gladly. But there was something he had to do first.

The first aid kit left much to be desired, but it was the best they had, so he hid himself away in his room, rolled up his sleeve, and set up his supplies. He was about to reach for the alcohol when a light knock on his door drew his attention.

"Come in," he called, not bothering to stand. Only one person would be coming by to see him, he knew, and he still didn't have the slightest clue what to say to reassure her. That didn't mean he was going to turn her away.

She cracked open the door and slipped inside, closing it behind him. "Hey."

In the low bunker light, her tear-stained eyes and damaged skin seemed far worse, and he knew the bruises forming on her arms must have come from his desperate grip. Ashamed, he turned back to his supplies, but her voice stopped him.

"Can I?"

There was really no reason for her to do it instead of him. He had far more experience than her with this, and he was quite used to patching himself up. But her lower lip trembled, and he knew that if he said no, she would think he was angry with her. So he extended his arm toward her in silent consent.

She moved across the room almost noiselessly, stopping at his table to inspect the various items. In a flash, he realized she had no idea what to do.

"The alcohol," he instructed, as gently as he could manage. "Pour it on the cut."

She picked it up, but eyed him uncertainly. "That's going to hurt," she pointed out.

Well, she wasn't wrong. "Yes," he admitted, "but not as much as an infection." Besides, he'd had far worse, but he didn't think pointing that out to her would reassure her much. It certainly wouldn't have if the roles had been reversed.

Lucy blanched. "Right. Infection. You could get an infection," she muttered, almost to herself. Before he could respond, she moved, pouring the liquid onto his open wound.

It took every ounce of self-control in him to temper his reaction. His arm burned, and he had to focus to keep his breathing steady. To keep from crying out. "See?" He managed, when the pain finally subsided. "Not so bad."

She didn't seem convinced, but nodded, "Now what?"

"Now the ointment." He gestured to the bottle with his uninjured hand. "Then wrap it."

Her hands shook as they slid along his skin, rubbing the medicine in with a gentleness he was not prepared for. How long had it been since someone had taken care of him? He couldn't recall.

She worked in silence for the most part, only breaking it to ask for directions wrapping the bandage and tucking it in place. After, she drew back, looking him over shakily.

"Flynn..." Her voice broke. "I'm so sorry."

A quip about her bark not being worse than her bite formed and died on his tongue. “Lucy, it’s alright, really. It’s just a cut.”

She shook her head, and a few tears slipped down her cheeks. “I stabbed you.”

He swallowed, heart twisting. More than anything he wanted to take away her pain, to convince her that she had not made an unforgivable mistake. The words stuck on his tongue, however. Jokes were easy, but talking about the mess of feelings whirling around in his head was a far more terrifying thought.

But for her, anything.

He exhaled, taking her hand in his. She blinked, but didn't pull away, and a ghost of a smile tugged at his lips.

He lowered his head to the back of her hand, planning to press a kiss there, but found he lacked the energy. Instead, he simply rested his forehead against her knuckles, breathing her in.

"Do you have any idea," he began, a little unsteadily, "what it is to be separated from you? On missions, having to trust your safety to-" He shuddered. "Wyatt, of all people. To know that something could happen to you at any time, and I wouldn't be there to protect you?"

He risked a glance up at her, and found her staring down at him, utterly lost. She searched his eyes, trying to parse out meaning from his words, and he smiled. Always the researcher, his Lucy, always looking to connect the dots. Quickly, though, his smile dimmed, as he remembered the course of the conversation.

"And then today, it happened. Rittenhouse took you." The words tasted bitter on his tongue.

Her expression was still uncomprehending.

"Today, I learned that you can escape me. And Lucy..." He squeezed her hand when she flinched. "If you can escape me, there aren't many people you can't escape. That peace of mind?" He shrugged. "A little cut is nothing compared to that."

It was more than he meant to admit, but if it would clear the desperate guilt from her eyes, it was worth it. Sure enough, the tension drained from her shoulders, and she traced her free hand along his bandage, almost absently.

"I do it, too," she admitted quietly, "When we're not together, I... Worry. About you."

Oh, Lucy. He rose, tugging her to his chest, nearly crying when she fell into him easily. "I'm the one who should be sorry." He kept his arms around her waist, but he could still feel them on her throat.

She shook her head. "You were protecting me," she murmured into his shirt, utterly sure. "I understand."

"That's not the only time I've ever hurt you," he couldn't help but point out, but she only snuggled closer.

"If you can forgive me, I'll forgive you."

A bite and a stab wound against a year of terrorizing, kidnapping, and endangering her? Hardly a fair trade. "Already done," he promised. "Already done. But-"

"There you go, then." She looked up at him, and her expression was gentle and open. For half a moment, his eyes wandered to her lips, but he quickly refocused. There would be time for that later, perhaps, but just at the moment, he could not risk crossing another line. Not when she was in his arms. Not after the day they'd both had.

Instead, he pressed a firm kiss to her forehead, before smiling down at her. "Come on, then. Movie night?"

He didn't much care what they watched, and he doubted she would, either. But whatever it was, it would give her an excuse to fall asleep on his shoulder, his arms around her.

Her own smile was brilliant.

"That sounds perfect."

As he led her into the space that generously passed for a living room, he kept a hand at the small of her back, and drew in steady breaths. Finally, they were safe.

They didn't have to hurt each other anymore.