And so they went home.
It seemed anti-climactic, departing the bunker barely two hours after they arrived, their final mission deemed by Denise to be “close enough” to be called a success.
Lucy questioned if it were true.
The changes were small, but she noticed them immediately. Flynn’s hair an inch shorter, the keys on her keychain in a different order, an orange tabby cat instead of the soft grey kitten Amy had picked out at the pound the week prior. Perfectly ripened bananas on the counter when she'd split the last one between the girls that morning. Perhaps she'd been foolish to expect the circle to close perfectly, her life to be exactly the same as they'd left it.
There was no way to know how divergent the trip to São Paulo had been - the words her future self had said that she had skipped, the words she had offered in their absence. Wyatt and Rufus in the back of the bar - had they been meant to be there? Should she have gone in alone?
As if Wyatt would have let her.
And maybe that, too, was the difference - her future self, war torn and desperate, with the shadow of a relationship instead of undying gratitude for Flynn’s sacrifice. The journal was the same, but its introduction was not. Did that affect his decisions? It must have. She’d pulled out her phone on the way home; googled some events. There were changes, small ones - Judith Campbell’s life a little better, Benedict Arnold’s death a bit less dignified. It wasn't the history she'd learned growing up, but it wasn't the history they'd created, either. This was a new version, created by a third itineration of Lucy and Wyatt, or was it fourth - did this go on into infinity? They'd still become themselves, or close enough - she still had her girls, she still had Wyatt. That was enough.
So she thought little of it when the furniture was slightly rearranged, when the paper crown Amy had spilled juice on the week before sat atop the kitchen table once more. The changes in the girls’ room were subtle; still the same house, still the same kids, but different night lights, different blinds. She'd have to learn her life again - again. She prayed this would be the last time.
The girls’ mumbled “night Mommy” as she tucked them served to ground her - there was no Amy situation here, no disappearing act, the details could be worked out. So too did Wyatt’s hand at the small of her back as they exited the room; her husband there with her, once again - as always, as always, he understood.
She didn't know how she would have survived all this without him.
The first two years as they travelled - the next five years when they didn’t - each bringing more challenges than she'd ever imagined possible. And the past 72 hours, as she threatened to be swallowed alive by an anxiety she hadn't felt in years - he kept her grounded, kept her sane. Reminded her, once more, to remember what she was fighting for.
It stung to climb into that Lifeboat one final time and know that she'd conceded that first fight - that her sister would never return. She'd settled herself on it five years ago, and though she'd never been at peace with it, she'd known it was right. But still, it felt like a bit of a betrayal to climb into that machine and not do a damn thing to save her sister.
Even if she was terrified that if she did, she'd lose her kids.
The thought had crept up on her in the months leading up to the jump, bringing to light the lie that she felt closure over Amy. The dam broke, late one night, with her sobbing on Wyatt’s chest - not unlike what she'd done a number of years prior.
He had more tools at his disposal this time, some five years on, five years of doing life hand-in-hand and knowing each other better than they knew themselves. She'd loved him then, after six weeks of separation, after fearing him dead and returning to a life unfamiliar. She'd loved him before, and she'd loved him after, through heartbreak and reunion and learning how to navigate a life they barely recognized. But as much as she'd loved him then, it couldn't compare to five years later, as they'd coached each other through more ordinary - and extraordinary - than she'd ever thought possible. She was her own person, of course she was, but some days she barely remembered where he ended and she began. The stilted, awkward admissions in front of a shimmering Los Angeles pool were long in the past, and she could bare her whole soul to him - nothing tucked away in the shadows - in a way she'd never thought possible. So when she sobbed out her guilt about her sister - nearly five years after she'd sealed her fate - he listened, he soothed, and he calmed her… centered her, brought her back to reason. And he allowed her to grieve, in a way she never really had, first with the persistent hope of Amy’s return and later with the whirlwind that was establishing their life together. By the time the jump came, she was settled - she'd preserve history, as she'd always been meant to do, she'd take the journal to Flynn and hope it was close enough to how her alternate self had done it - hope it was enough.
Which is what made it all the more troubling, as Lucy sat in their bed, the new orange tabby curled up at her feet and a book on her lap that she knew she hadn't written, to see the text flash across her phone. “Your work thing go okay?”
Wyatt walked out of the bathroom to see her madly scrolling through her phone, the Hindenburg’s Wikipedia page alight on the screen. “Luce?” he said, curiosity and concern tinging his voice. They'd seen enough together to know what he was really asking - What was she in a panic about? What had they changed?
“Hindenburg only had two fatalities,” she replied, “Kate Drummond and an unidentified man.”
“Right, we knew that,” he said, circling the bed and climbing in without moving his focus from her.
“But in an interesting footnote, it seems that a young girl who had just disembarked the inbound flight was tragically killed - struck down while crossing the street by an unidentified motorist. Witnesses described the driver as tall, dark hair - and while they found the car several miles away, the man was never identified.” She paused, looking across at Wyatt. “That girl was Irene Dohener.”
His eyes grew wide, understanding dawning. “Your sister?”
She handed her phone over, the text on the screen, and watched as Wyatt scrolled down. Pulling a face, he glanced back over at her. “You overshare.”
“It's my sister!” A pause, as the full weight of the words hit her, and then Wyatt was right there as she crumpled, sobbing. “It's my sister.”
He shushed and rubbed her back as she sobbed - the final slamming of the door turning out to be anything but. “Seems that way. You want to call her?”
She shook her head, face still buried in the crook of his neck, as she sniffled. “No,” she said, swallowing back a sob. “It's late. I don't want to wake her.”
“She just texted you, Lucy - she’s still up. Call her.” She pulled back to see him offering the phone her direction - the number cued up already. “Here - just hit go.”
The conversation wasn't long; a few generic statements about the “work thing,” Amy saying that she still couldn't understand what Lucy needed to do for a job she'd left five years prior. “It doesn't matter anymore,” Lucy replied. “It all went fine. Better than fine.”
A few more exchanges - proving Wyatt right; based on Amy’s very pointed questions, she did overshare. As did Amy. Turns the timeline shift also gifted her with a brother-in-law, toddler nephew, and - if her sister got her way - she'd soon also have a niece. “Not everyone can knock it out in one shot like you, Luce. Some of have to go through that bullshit twice. Oh well, at least there's fun in the trying.”
Seven years older, and a lot of life later, but Amy was still Amy. She bid her sister goodnight and tears sprung to her eyes. Docking her phone, she turned back to find Wyatt’s arms open and waiting. “C’mere,” he said, and let her crawl into his embrace once again.
The wet patch on his chest would dry; unless things had shifted again, he'd have a half-dozen clean t-shirts in the dresser he could change into if necessary. One too many spit-up incidents when the girls were small had broken his habit of sleeping shirtless, but she supposed that was an option, too. Regardless, Wyatt never complained; reaffirming for the millionth time her desperate decision in a church in North Korea some 30 years before they were even born.
History was, after all, just a series of choices. Some good, some bad, some monumental. The decision to choose forgiveness over hurt; to choose life over fear; to choose what was right over what was wanted. And the decision to speak truth instead of platitudes, regardless of the risk - or, apparently, reward. For better or for worse, it was theirs; all behind them now, in the past, where it belonged. It had given as much as it had taken away, but in the end, she'd like to think she'd left it for the better - much as it had her.
And for tonight - for the last new timeline they'd ever find themselves in - that would be enough.