Normally Lucy is in favour of preserving history just as it was – painful, messy, unfair, unjust as it might seem – but she was firm in her belief that the events of the past had to happen in the way they did in order to preserve their, admittedly also still painful, messy, unfair, and unjust, present.
However, right now, three days into a seemingly aimless trek through wooded rural Pennsylvania in 1754 – strange to think this wilderness would end up becoming downtown Pittsburgh one day – Lucy would quite happily take the Lifeboat and Wyatt’s trusty sidearm and jump back to maim the person who invented the whalebone bodies that would eventually form into stays, and subsequently corsets. Hell, she would even settle for going back and persuading Catherine De Medici not to introduce the fashion to France in an attempt to make her life rambling through the woods some 200 years later a bit more comfortable.
So far, they had walked for miles on a fruitless hunt for Garcia Flynn, spent a couple of nights under the stars sans fire for warmth because a fire would give away their position to those whose notice they would rather escape, waded through mud, rivers, underbrush, been chased by the French because Rufus finally caved and made a fire, been held hostage by the French, and had the Lifeboat sabotaged thus trapping them in 1754. All activities that were accompanied by the constant back and forth arguing between her two male companions.
Lucy sighed and sat down as comfortably as she could. This mission had taken its toll on her both physically and emotionally. She had tried to extend an olive branch to Wyatt several times, and been rebuffed each time, the last one only a few moments before as he searched through the pockets of one of Flynn’s men he had felled. When it yielded the same result, she had snapped back at him, before taking the map and settling off to the side, using the pretence of studying the map to give herself a moment to recover her equilibrium.
She knew the team was fractured following the fallout of the Watergate mission, but when Rufus and Wyatt took off on their chase to find the Mothership leaving her trailing in their wake, she realised just how much damage had been done.
Of course, on some level she knew that had they made it to the Mothership in time, they never would have taken off without her, but just for a moment that doubt surfaced and allowed her to feel the full force of her hurt over the situation.
This is why she had remained silent to her struggles. Rufus and Wyatt were already arguing enough, and Wyatt also had the pressure of being the one they relied upon for protection, and the only one with the actual practical knowledge and survival skills to keep them alive out here.
She did not want to add to that with something so minor, so she continued to bite her tongue and press on with the mission regardless of the discomfort she was in after three days of a stay rubbing at her upper body, and holding it in a position she was not used to at all – her devotion to her studies meant she was far more familiar with being hunched over a book, rather than sitting upright, back straight, shoulders back and the ache she was feeling proved this.
Over by the Lifeboat Wyatt and Rufus were continuing their back-and-forth bickering, oblivious to her discomfort.
Wyatt’s sarcastic retort interrupted her musings,
“Yes, I am following your absurdly specific instruction.”
It drew her attention back to their immediate plight. Getting home.
Wyatt was digging a hole whilst Rufus was penning a message to the Mason industries team.
“When you said get a message to Mason Industries, I didn’t think you literally meant in a bottle.” She said, her disbelief creeping into her tone.
“Well, we can’t exactly send a text, can we?” was Rufus’ retort.
Perhaps because her mind was still sort of elsewhere, Lucy couldn’t help but let some of her frustration and despair creep out.
“Really? This is the best system that Connor Mason could come up with?” She slapped a bug off her arm.
With the revelation that this was the first time this system had even been activated, and the repercussions of what could happen if it did not work, they set off walking once again heading towards Fort Duquesne in order to try and get the supplies needed for Rufus to patch the Lifeboat.
Needing to keep her spirits up and her mind off the uncertainty and discomfort Lucy chatted away. Wyatt had said no history, but she could not care less right now, and filled her chatter with random facts, and anecdotes, and comments on the untamed beauty of they land they were wandering through.
And yet the fractures were still there. The bleakness of their situation made tempers more fraught, and once more Wyatt and Rufus were yelling at each other.
Lucy had thought that perhaps they were on their way to being a good team, able to count on each other through any situation. Her secrecy had damaged that, her fear at what this journal she supposedly would write revealed about the future – her future, had damaged that trust and played a part in breaking apart the team. She knew that she was not blameless, none of them were. But right now, she did not know what to do in order to bring them back together.
So, they pressed on, a loose alliance at best, wondering how their situation could get much worse.
As it turns out it could get a lot worse. Captured by the Shawnee and forcibly tied to a post. If they made it out of 1754 alive, Lucy was going to book herself into a spa for a week and just have deep tissue massages across her entire upper body.
And then Rufus saved them all.
He went to bat for them and put his own life on the line when he could have escaped and made off….to what she wasn’t sure, but he could have gotten away, and yet he stayed. Challenged the decision of Nonhelema to kill Lucy and Wyatt and ended up saving them all.
Her relief as they left the Shawnee and headed back into the woods meant she flung her arms around Rufus with joy. Thanking him for what he did.
Wincing at the pain across her ribs as she pulled back, she tried to hide her discomfort as Wyatt also thanked Rufus. She thought she was successful until she saw Wyatt give her a strange look and he almost started to reach out to her in concern, but before he could, she stressed the need to press on for Fort Duquesne so they could attempt to get away from 1754.
The team was finally coming back together, and that was able to sustain her through the whirlwind that followed and keep her pressing on until they crash landed back at Mason Industries.
Stepping into the changing rooms, Lucy heaved a sigh of relief. Finally, she could remove – and ask that Mason Industries burn – her outfit. She never wanted to see it again.
Unhooking the front panel of her top all that was on Lucy’s mind right then was showering, being able to breathe deeply for the first time in days, sleeping on her nice soft mattress with its snuggly duvet and pillows, and possibly eating her body weight in junk food.
Once the outer layer was removed, Lucy could have cried in frustration as she could not reach around to untie the lacings of the stay. The cherry on top of an already terrible week, the historian could have cried when she saw Jiya sticking her head into the changing room.
“Figured you might need a hand getting out of that contraption.” Jiya said, grinning as she entered the room.
“You are everything good in the world Jiya.” Lucy effused, turning around and pulling her hair out of the way so that Jiya could assist her in removing the stays and the layers of skirt.
Lucy was so focused on taking those first unrestricted breaths that she almost missed Jiya’s gasp of shock.
“Lucy….” Jiya breathed, somewhat horrified, “you need a medic.”
“What!? Why?! Oh!” Lucy was stunned and then looked down at the chemise now revealed with the removal of the stay. It was stained with red. A week of wearing the bodice with no respite had left raw sores on her ribcage.
It was only now that the pressure was off them that she really started to feel the pain.
Tears welling up in her eyes from that pain, she fumbled for a moment, just wanting to shower and go home and forget all about time travel for as long as she could.
“No, Jiya, please no medic. I just want to clean up and go home.” She pleaded with the other woman.
“Lucy these need to be looked at. Come on,” Jiya tugged gently on her arm, “I will take you now, and then come back for your clothes and stuff.”
Sensing some further hesitation from Lucy, Jiya brought out the big guns.
“The sooner you get checked out the sooner you can go home. I am not above getting Wyatt or Rufus in here to see what they think….” She threatened.
Knowing the guilt that both men would feel if they knew she had been suffering whilst in 1754 and didn’t say anything, Lucy quietly nodded at Jiya and allowed the engineer to gently lead her through the corridors to medical.
Wyatt let out a sigh of relief as he put on his modern clothes and made his way up to the conference room they used for debriefing.
A shower and clean 21st century clothing had gone a long way to making him feel better, and he already planned a stop for food on his way home.
Right now, the only thing standing between him and that modern food was the debrief.
Striding into the room trying not to show how tired he felt, he saw Agent Christopher and Rufus waiting on him.
“Where’s Lucy?” he asked as he sat down.
“Lucy has been excused debriefing for now as she is in medical.” Agent Christopher’s tone was no nonsense, “So let’s begin. What was Gar…”
Wyatt did a double take. Lucy was in medical?! He didn’t know she was injured.
Both he and Rufus interjected over Agent Christopher’s question. She levelled both of them with a look.
“Ms Preston is being checked over by the medical team. Jiya took her there a little while ago and they informed me. Right now, I do not know all the details, but it is not serious. Now let us finish this debrief and then you are free to go and check for yourselves.”
Wyatt answered the questions without thinking. His mind was in the medical wing with Lucy.
She hadn’t said anything about being hurt the whole time they were in 1754. Granted he had caught her wincing a couple of times through the mission, but she had ploughed on without stopping or complaining at all, and he had not missed the grunt of pain she let out on exiting the Lifeboat but dismissed it.
Lucy had tried to talk to him a few times through their 1754 mission, extending an apology and attempt at reconciliation and he had brushed her off. If he had been more accepting of her apologies, would she have confided in him that she was injured? Lucy and Rufus had been more friendly on this mission, maybe she had told him?
“Did you know she was hurt?” he asked Rufus, once again interrupting Agent Christopher’s questioning.
“No.” Rufus exclaimed, “I was just as busy as the two of you trying not to die in the woods.”
“Then how did she get hurt? I didn’t see her fall. Why wouldn’t she tell us something like this?!”
“Wyatt let’s be realistic, we were not exactly bosom buddies on this trip. You rebuffed her or jumped down her throat every time she tried to talk to you. Is it any wonder she didn’t say anything?”
Rufus’s point hit home with all the force of a punch to the stomach. He was right, they had not been in the friendliest or trusting mindset with each other. Would Wyatt have been open to Lucy coming to him to say she was hurt or would have just dismissed it coldly as her being an untrained civilian reliant on him to keep her alive.
Sitting in the briefing room, Wyatt hoped that he would not have been that much of an arsehole in that situation. He needed to go and check on her, make sure she was alright. He cared for Lucy and the idea of her hurt made him feel ill.
He had not felt this way about a woman in a long time. He thought he had shut that part of himself down. Not wanting there to be any room in his life for any other woman than Jessica. And yet, here was this intelligent, sassy, clumsy, brilliant, beautiful historian who had challenged him from day one, worming her way into his heart. Making him feel alive again.
He was not ready to explore that. He couldn’t. He was married to Jessica and his guilt in his role in her death meant that he shouldn’t be allowed to have someone else bring joy and love back into his life. His penance for Jessica was to continue on alone with the knowledge that he got his wife killed.
But then there was Lucy…
“Agent Christopher, I..” he shot to his feet, and started making his way to the door.
“Go Master Sergeant.” She replied, a knowing glint in her eye, “We are pretty much done here.”
“I will wrap up and come find you.” Rufus offered.
Wyatt nodded his thanks and left the room, almost sprinting his way down to the medical bay.
Stopping one of the techs he encountered in the hallway he asked if they knew which room Lucy was in.
Having been given direction, he knocked on the door to her room.
“Come in.” she sounded tired.
He walked into the room. Lucy was lying on the medical bed, clean and dressed in jeans and a t shirt. The t shirt however was rucked up her chest exposing her stomach. Wyatt could see several nasty looking abrasions adorning her body, and he felt sick. She had been hurt and he had had no idea.
“Just pop my bag on the table over there please Jiya” Lucy rambled, clearly unaware that it was not Jiya who had entered the room. “Oh. You are not Jiya.”
“You didn’t tell me you were hurt.” He tried his hardest to not let any accusation slip into his tone, but he did not think he was that successful from the look on her face.
“Wyatt…” she breathed, unsure what to say.
“What happened?” he pulled the chair alongside her bed and took a seat.
“18th Century Women’s fashion is not made for running around the woods.” She shrugged, and then winced.
“This is from your dress?!” he exclaimed, “Jesus, Lucy, why didn’t you say anything?!”
She was spared a reply as the doctor chose that moment to enter the room, followed by Jiya with Lucy’s purse.
“Rufus is outside, wanting to know if you are alright?” Jiya said.
“Tell him yes I am fine. Thank you Jiya.” Lucy replied and Jiya made her exit.
Both Wyatt and the doctor turned to look at her.
“You are not fine, Lucy.” Wyatt insisted.
“I will be, once Doc here patches me up, right Doc?” Lucy looked to the medic for reassurance.
“Providing you keep them clean, change your dressings regularly, don’t put any undue pressure on the wounds, and take your antibiotics to prevent infections then I do not see why not.” The doctor reeled off. “Sir, I am going to have to ask you to leave the room whilst I patch up Ms Preston.”
Wyatt was torn, wanting to stay with Lucy but knowing it wasn’t his place.
“Actually, Doc, he can stay. Its ok.” Lucy said before turning to him, “I mean, you don’t have to stay. Just if you want to, although why you would want to, I don’t know.”
“Lucy its alright. I can stay. Someone needs to distract you from what is going on, so you don’t faint on this poor doctor right?” Wyatt grinned as Lucy glared back at him.
“Ok Ms Preston, if you can sit up for me and just hold your top where it is. I will give you a quick injection of a local anaesthetic to numb the areas and then we will take care of these ones at the front first and then move round the back.”
Wyatt sat next to Lucy on the bed, and she turned to look at him so as not to get freaked out as the doctor worked on cleaning and patching up the sores on her front.
“Why didn’t you tell me you were hurt?” Wyatt asked again.
“There was enough going on. I didn’t want to add to the pile because my dress was a bit scratchy.”
“Lucy these are hardly the results of a scratchy dress. You should have said something.”
“Would you have been open to it? Every time I tried to talk to you, we ended up arguing. I didn’t want you to think that I was also complaining when we already had a lot to deal with. We count on you for survival yes, but you also said you need people you can count on. How can you count on me if I am just a weak link civilian in the team?”
“No-one in their right mind would ever consider you a weak link. Just on this mission alone you have just spent a week running around the forest, in serious discomfort, roughing it and wild camping, and still kept it, and this team, together. That would break a lot of people Lucy, but not you. You are not a weak link. Quite the opposite in fact. Rufus and I? We need you on the team.”
He squeezed her hand as he said this and felt her squeeze his back in thanks, as her face flushed under his praise.
“Thank you.” She muttered quietly
“I’m sorry I was an idiot on this last mission, and I am sorry that I made you feel that you couldn’t come to me when you were in pain. It’s my job to ensure your safety and wellbeing, and I am not doing a very good job of that if you are sneaking off to medical at the end of a mission.”
Lucy was momentarily taken aback by the sincerity she could feel coming off him. His gaze was intense, and there was care and concern in his look and his touch. Even from the beginning there was a spark, a something between them, even when he infuriated her with his cocky attitude, she felt something for him…call it a crush. But by The Alamo she knew that she was slowly developing feelings for Wyatt Logan, and that he could very well break her heart as he was devoted to the memory of his wife. Even on this mission he had referenced getting her back.
Lucy knew she needed to protect herself from that kind of heartache and move away from the possibility he could care for her, even though his look right now was telling her he could, and he did. So, she reverted to deflection.
“What would you have done? Declared war on women’s underwear?!” She giggled, and the doctor told her to hold still, “Stolen men’s clothing for me so I could match you and Rufus? That would have really scandalised the French!”
The Doctor cut them off just then, informing Lucy that her front was all patched up, and now time for her back.
Jumping off the bed so the Doctor could continue to work around Lucy’s ribs and upper body, Wyatt came to stand in front of her. Grabbing her hands and placing them on his shoulders, Wyatt encouraged Lucy to lean forward onto his chest for comfort whilst her back was attended to.
He focused on the fact that this was for Lucy, to give her comfort as she had had such a terrible time of things in 1754 and yet carried on like the trooper she was. He focused on that rather than how good it felt to have her so near him, to hold her, or how good it felt to have her lean on him for that comfort. He cared for Lucy, but did he not owe it to Jessica to try and right the wrongs of the past and get her back? Right now, Lucy needed him as a friend, and he was going to do that the best he could.
“Once we are all rested and feeling better, we should go for a drink.” He said, “You. Me. Rufus. Somewhere nice where can just relax and spend some time together outside of Mason.”
She hummed in response.
“That’s a nice idea.” She said leaning into him a little more as the doctor injected the next bit of numbing agent into her back. “We do owe him for saving us back there.”
“I thought that was my job?!” Wyatt put on a mock affronted tone, “I am Delta Force after all.”
Lucy chuckled before replying.
“We should do it. If you cannot pry Rufus away from Jiya just by asking, we should tempt him with those Twinkie monstrosities he was talking about.”
“You really think Rufus and Jiya will happen? He has gotta actually talk to her first!”
“He will.” Lucy was confident. “They will make a cute couple. It will happen, soon.”
“You seem very sure of this Professor.”
“Yup. If I am right, you need to eat a whole box of Chocodiles.”
At that Wyatt threw back his head and laughed.
“Oh, you are on.”
“We should get Rufus some as a thank you anyway. Maybe we can give them to him when we go for a drink?”
“I think we can manage that.” Wyatt agreed.
“Ok Ms Preston, that is you done.” The Doctor came back around to face Lucy, “I will send you home with enough fresh dressings for a week but come and get more if you need them. If you don’t have anyone at home who can help change the dressings, then come and see us and one of the nurses can help. Given the placement of the wounds, I would advise you sleep on your right side, to avoid aggravating them for a while. Keep them clean and if you spot anything unusual, or anything doesn’t look right, or you start to feel unwell, I want to know right away. In the meantime, I will fill you a prescription for anti inflammatories for the muscle soreness, and a course of antibiotics to stave off infection. Is there anyone I can call to come and drive you home?”
“I will take her home.” Wyatt volunteered.
“You don’t have to do that.” Lucy protested, “I can call a cab.”
“Its fine Professor, I can drive you home.” Wyatt insisted.
“Well, I will go and get your medicine whilst you two decide.” The doctor left the room.
“What are you going to tell your mum, or your fiancé?” Wyatt asked. His tone on the word fiancé left little doubt as to his feelings towards Noah
“I am staying at my Mum’s house, but I cannot really ask her to help with changing these. She is already asking a lot of questions and passing judgement on what I am doing here at Mason. I will just come back here each day and get checked and new dressings. Its not like I don’t spend most of my time here anyway.”
Lucy yawned then, as much as she tried to stifle it. It was clear to any and all that she was exhausted.
“Come on Professor, lets grab your meds and get you home.”