Better than the Bunker
Author's Notes: Part 4 in the "Time after Time" series. Sorry it's taken me so long to post. I had huge, huge troubles with it for some reason. Hope it turned out okay. Multi-chapter. Thanks to PeachCheetah for putting up with months of me through my moaning that this sucked, and for the beta!
"So, uh… Welcome home!" Wyatt laughed nervously.
Lucy smiled at him as she stepped across the threshold, pulling her single, small suitcase behind her. They'd agreed to not move everything in on the first day, the mostly abandoned apartment needing a deep clean before introducing Lucy's stuff. They also didn't want to plan too much for their first day together. They were still coming down from a mad whirlwind of days, weeks, years, really, and wanted nothing more than to just be together, away from the bunker, for the very fist time. If all they did was clean, and talk, they'd be happy. When had they ever been able to do just that?
Lucy curiously peered about the apartment. She'd accepted Wyatt's offer to move in sight unseen, confident that no matter what his place was like it would be better than the bunker. Wyatt, however, had suddenly become shy about it.
"I haven't been here in like, a year or something," he rushed to tell her. "And even before that I never really used it much, so it's not super, y'know, homey, or anything. And probably really dusty. And I know it smells weird but that's just cause no windows have been opened in forever. And if you'd like to do anything to it, you know, change out furniture or whatever, you can-"
She cut off his rambling with her mouth on his, pushing him back until he hit the front door, closing it with a thump.
"Wyatt," she murmured against his lips., "It's fine. It's perfect." She leaned back to look into his eyes. "We're here, together, and that's all that matters."
He worried his lips together, still not convinced, but nodded. "I do mean it, though. Whatever you want to do to the place, just, go ahead."
She kissed him again and stroked his face. "I'm sure the two of us will figure something out."
He nodded, taking her hand in his and squeezing. She let him lead her through the small apartment, musty and dusty as promised, but worlds apart away from both the bunker, and her mother's big, memory filled house. It was everything she could have hoped for.
Even with the giant spiderweb she walked into in the doorway of the bathroom.
She yelped, hands flying to her face and hair as the fine strands caught on everything. A large, black spider dropped to the floor.
"Crap!" Wyatt cried, fleeing to the kitchen, hoping to find a towel, or some tissues, or really anything to help. He was on high-alert, full soldier mode, waiting to hear a scream from Lucy. He grabbed a shoe on the way back, ready to deal with the eight-legged devil but instead came to a full halt in the bathroom doorway. Lucy was crumpling up a wad of toilet paper and dropping it into the toilet. He looked around as she flushed it.
There was no spider in sight.
"Lucy?" he breathed.
"Uh-huh?" she turned to him with a bright smile.
"What… where's the…"
"It's on it's way far, far away from here."
He looked at her askance and she shifted under his gaze.
"What?" she frowned.
"You killed it?"
"Well I'm not exactly into pet spiders, so… yeah."
He shook his head at her, and she walked towards him, frowning as she loosely draped her arms around his neck. Ever since they'd finally gotten together, she couldn't seem to stop touching him. Reassuring herself that he was really there with her, alive. Relishing in the fact that she was allowed to touch him now. "What is it?"
His hands framed her hips, just as needy for the contact. "Jess… she hated spiders. Couldn't even be in the same room as one. I always had to come to her rescue, and I guess I assumed…" he trailed off.
"That I would be the same?" she smiled softly. He nodded. "Well I admit I hate spiders too, but most people do so that's not surprising. When I was little my dad would kill them for me but when he died... I had to take over that duty for the house."
"Not your mom?"
She shook her head as she grabbed some more toilet paper to clear away the lingering remains of cobweb. "My mom was rarely home. Besides being a big deal in the field of history, she was creating the new department at Stanford. Her legacy. She got home late most nights and got straight to cracking the whip at me to make sure I was ahead on my studies. In between school and her getting home I basically either did homework or housework. Plus getting Amy to and from school and extra-curriculars, minor repairs-"
"Woah, woah, woah," cut in Wyatt. "Minor repairs?"
She winked at him, sly, as she opened the cupboard under the sink wide, looking for more cleaning supplies. "My dad taught me how. He always got me to help him when something went wrong. Leaky pipes, broken laundry machine, change a tire, engine tweaks, you name it."
Wyatt's jaw dropped and his hands flew up to stop her talking. "Hold on a minute. Are you telling me you used to work on cars?"
She winked at him again, saucy as all get out. "Mmhmm."
He growled and lunged at her, hauling her into his arms and kissing her senseless. She let him, giving back just as good, though her lips quivered with laughter. She knew he'd be excited by that revelation. By the time they finally pulled back for air, Lucy was sitting up on the counter beside the sink, legs wrapped around him. She laughed when he dove in for more, pushing him gently back.
"Calm down, there. We have a lot to do before all that starts."
"We do? No we don't'Forget it,! Iit can wait! I mean… Lucy, you can work on cars? I thought you knew nothing about them?"
"I don't know anything about makes or models or anything like that. But the basic functions are all the same and I can work a bit with those, yeah."
"You realize how hot that is to me, right?"
She allowed him another quick, hot kiss.
"What am I saying," he laughed and shook his head at himself. "Of course you know how hot it is. That's why you told me."
She shrugged a shoulder, grinning innocently.
"Minx," he narrowed his eyes, but smiled fondly. "What else don't I know about you?"
"Oh, so very much."
"Is this what our life is gonna be like now? You, dropping these little knowledge bombs, driving me crazy while we clean the house, and do laundry, and go get groceries?"
She stroked a hand down his cheek, scratching at his stubble. "I hope so."
He beamed. "Me too."
"And if you feel like dropping any knowledge bombs on me," she hinted.
"I'll keep that in mind." He went in for another kiss, but she stopped him.
"No," she shook her head. "No hanky panky. We still have a lot of work to do."
He pouted, but she was firm. "I am not christening our bedroom while there's an inch of dust over everything in the apartment."
"You drive a hard bargain."
"Get used to it."
Lucy giggled as they worked in unison to pull the scant amount of cleaning products from under the sink, carrying them to the kitchen to asses the supplies there. Being Boxing Day, neither had felt like braving any stores, agreeing before they left the bunker that they'd just make do with what they had.
"Should have got a cleaning crew to come through first," Wyatt noted while they wiped down counters.
"iIt's not like we could have planned suddenly moving in here," Lucy countered. "Two days ago, we had no idea we were going to defeat Rittenhouse and suddenly be freed from the bunker."
"There is that."
She paused for a moment, leaning back against the fridge. "I mean… can you believe this? Two days ago we had no Rufus, we had no exact plan to get him back, we had no us… and now here we are. Free. Cleaning our kitchen."
He threw some dirty paper towels in the garbage as he shook his head. "I know. I can't really believe it either. Everything happened so fast but here we are, and, well, if I'm honest it almost doesn't feel real. It kind of feels like a dream. You know?"
"Even with the cleaning?"
"Even with the cleaning. I mean, it's so banal and domestic, but… it's nice." He smiled at her, a bit shy at the admission. Warmth suffused her as she crossed the few steps towards him and encompassed him in a hug. Laying her head against his chest for a moment, she sighed.
"It is. Very nice."
"After hunting time travelling cult wackos, though, we'll probably be bored to tears in a matter of weeks."
She laughed against him. "Hey now. I think we'll last a bit longer than that. Real life can be a big enough adventure in its own way."
Wyatt laid his cheek on the top of her head, a hand on the small of her back, thumb rubbing back and forth. "Yeah, you're right. I think it'll be a long, long time before I could ever get bored of this."
They held each other for a few more minutes, swaying lightly back and forth as they contemplated the years that had brought them to that moment, and the years to come. How different they would be. It was thrilling and terrifying all at once.
"I've never actually lived with a boyfriend before," Lucy broke the silence.
Wyatt pulled back to look at her.
She nodded, grabbing a wad of paper towel and a cleaning spray, resuming the cleansing of the stovetop. "I've had one or two lengthier relationships, but they never lasted long enough to move in together. I mean I guess there was Noah, but… I don't really count that."
Wyatt started work on the shelves inside the fridge, chuckling at her last comment. "No kidding. I'm surprised, though. Between all your years attending college, then all your years teaching college… , I'd have thought every male nerd with a pulse would have been after you."
She rolled her eyes. "Oh, some tried. Some succeeded up to a point. But I was way too focused on first getting my PhD, then heading straight for tenure. They thought my obsessive focus was cute at first, but in the end none of them could handle my long hours. I would study, or work, then come home and study or work more. I guess in the end I always realized I loved my work more than them."
"So, if I see you bringing a stack of new books home, I should be worried?"
She dropped her towel onto the stove, whirling around while shaking her head insistently. "No! No, Wyatt, you have nothing to be worried about." She reached out and grabbed his hand, squeezing it. "Trust me when I say you are completely unlike any of those guys. They never had a chance. You had my heart from day one."
"Day one? I thought it was from the Alamo?"
"Don't be an ass," she scolded, the grin on her face belying any actual anger.
"I'll do my best."
They went back to their tasks, quickly finishing the kitchen and moving on to the living room. Lucy got to work on the coffee table and TV stand while Wyatt fished out a vacuum cleaner.
"I don't think I've ever even used this," he laughed. "Homeland set me up here after our first mission, when it became clear the assignment wouldn't be a quick one and done. But I rarely ever used it. Between a few of our missions the first year, sure, but then Mason Industries blew up and we all moved to the bunker, and, well, you know the rest."
Lucy rubbed the surface of the coffee table a bit harder for a moment at the mention of their first headquarters blowing up. "Yeah."
"I actually thought they'd let the place go. I didn't have much stuff in it and was a bit too preoccupied with saving history to care about it anyways, so I just left it all. I didn't know until recently that Agent Christopher arranged for it to be kept. I'm sure glad of that now."
"I'll say," Lucy called out over the vacuum Wyatt had just turned on. "There's no way I could sleep another night in my house. If you hadn't had this place… we'd be living out of a hotel."
"Still better than the bunker!"
The pair worked well together, moving through each room of the small apartment with ease. To say it was sparsely furnished was an understatement, so there wasn't much to do beyond vacuuming and lots of dusting. The time passed swiftly as they talked. It was the most time they'd ever had to just chat to with each other, uninterrupted, about normal things, and both were relieved at how comfortable it was. The dopey smiles they kept catching on the other's face didn't hurt either. They knew they loved one another but throwing themselves into cohabitation was a leap that could still go terribly wrong or be terribly awkward. They were happy content to keep riding the wave of contentment they seemed to be on.
When they got to the last room, the bedroom, Wyatt's stammering returned.
"So, uh… I'll clear out some drawers and stuff for you,." hHe hurried into the room ahead of her and beelined for the single, mid-sized dresser. He opened the top drawer and threw its few contents onto the unmade bed. The second drawer was emptied just as fast.
"There you go," he gestured at the empty drawers. "And the closet is almost bare, too, so… do you want the left or the right side?" He hustled over to the sliding door wall closet and slid the right panel over to the left. Reaching up, he pushed the dozen or so hangers holding clothes over to the far side. "I know you have a lot of clothes, so you can have most of the space. And we can get a second dresser, or something, and-"
She came up behind him, wrapping her arms around his waist and hugging him from behind, laying a hand over his heart. "Calm down."
He took a deep breath, held it for a second, then exhaled slowly. "Sorry."
"There's nothing to be nervous about."
"I know." He turned in her arms, looking down at her. He brushed a strand of hair back from her face and tucked it behind her ear. "It's just… I've only ever lived with my dad, Grandpa Sherwin, and Jess. Then alone, of course, for six years. But I spent most of that in on army bases and on tourdeployments, and that's not the same. That was never home."
He led her to the bed and sat down, encouraging her to sit beside him. He took hold of her hand, looking at it as he spoke.
"Living with Jess was, well… it was what it was. It was great for a long timewhile, and then it wasn't. However I may have romanticized it in my head the last six years, I realize now, looking back, that a lot of it wasn't actually healthy. And I don't want that to happen to us. I want to do this right, straight from the beginning."
She leaned over and kissed him softly. "It won't happen to us," she assured him. "And you will do this right. You already are. You don't need to give up all your space now that I'm here. I know you've been living alone for a long time, and that this will be a big change for you. It is for me too. But I don't want to suddenly barrel in and take over everything."
"But I want you to!" he blurted out, then cringed, and laughed awkwardly. "I didn't… I don't, actually like living alone."
"Really?" she rubbed his knee, letting him know he didn't need to be embarrassed. "No wild bachelor pad lifestyle?"
He scoffed at her and rolled his eyes. "Have you seen this place? A party house it is not. And my last place wasn't either. It was mostly a sad, neglected hovel. The only action it saw was too much drinking topped with the occasional bout of depression."
"Wyatt…" she reached up to touch his cheek, her eyes going wide and shiny.
"No," he shook her hand off. "None of that. Today is a happy day, and the beginning of our future. We are not dwelling on the past."
She sniffed but nodded her head. "Right. Back to work?"
They hopped off the bed, looking around at what needed to be done.
"How bout I throw the sheets and stuff into the laundry while you get your suitcase and start unpacking?"
A few minutes later the laundry was churning away, and the couple were folding clothes on top of the mattress. It was Lucy this time who laughed first, shaking her head at a pair of grey socks that lay resting in her lap.
"I used to hate folding laundry. My mom loved order in all things, so leaving piles of clothes all over my room was my way of rebellion. But this, us, right now? There's nowhere I'd rather be. I'm enjoying it. What is wrong with me?"
Wyatt laughed with her. "When you're on base they're insane about keeping things in order. There are literal rules about how many socks can be in your drawer, and how much space must be between them, and how far from the edge they must be. There are tons of reasons for that, some of which I thought were ridiculous, but I still did it. Right now, though… it's the first time I've actually enjoyed it, too.
Lucy kept laughing. "Look at us. One day off the job and we've gone soft already! What's next? Am I going to like doing the dishes now too?"
"Guess it takes a couple years of time travelling to make one appreciate the simple things in life."
"It certainly made me appreciate some other things in the meantime, too."
He looked at her in interest and found her waggling her eyebrows at him. "Oh really?"
"Oh, y'know," she shrugged and dropped the socks to the side, rising onto her knees. She shuffled over to him, throwing a leg over his lap and sitting down into it. "There's a certain reckless hothead who grew on me quite a bit."
"Get out of town," he said with mock surprise. "I met a bossy know-it-all who turned out not half bad either!"
She giggled as they both leaned forward to kiss.
Several minutes later most of the socks were on the floor, as was the t-shirt Wyatt had been wearing. He was just about to go for Lucy's when the loud beep of the laundry machine interrupted them. Wyatt groaned and dropped his head into the cove of her shoulder and neck.
"I guess this is part of our normal life now, too. We've gone from getting clockblocked by Rufus to clockblocked by chores."
"Clockblocked?" she laughed as he helped her off the bed.
"Don't tell me you've never thought of that term before."
"Okay, fine. I have."
"Ha!" He strutted triumphantly down the hallway to open the laundry closet door. Lucy watched as he efficiently swapped the wet bed ware into the dryer above the washer.
"Can I ask you something?" she gnawed on a lip anxiously.
"You can ask me anything."
"Growing up with your dad…"
He closed the dryer door, then the closet door, and turned to look at her. "Kind of like with your mom. I had to do all the housework. My dad was either working, or too drunk to do anything. It's how I learned to cook, too. Necessity. It was one of the only ways I could think of to try sober him up."
Lucy's heart lurched for him, but she sucked in a breath before she could get carried away. Not dwelling on the past, she reminded herself.
"I have to say I'm very much looking forward to testing out those skills. Your cooking, that is."
Wyatt grinned cheekily at her. "With what I've seen of your attempts at cooking in the bunker, I think it's safe to say I'll be the head chef of the household, yes."
Lucy shrugged, fully aware of how disastrous she was in the kitchen. "Can't be good at everything, you know."
"Oh, so modest."
She grinned up at him. "And now I have you to do the things I can't."
"Like reach stuff on the top shelves?"
She glared at him and smacked him on the shoulder, but then sighed and nodded. "Actually yeah…"
He laughed and gathered her in his arms. "We're a perfect pair."
"We are, actually. I'm realizing more and more."
He sighed happily, just looking into her eyes for a minute before dropping a kiss to the top of her head. "You know I think we're about done cleaning. I'd love to get cooking for you right away but there's nothing here that wouldn't poison us. Want to order something in?"
She agreed, and they started walking towards the kitchen, where Wyatt pulled out a fat stack of take-out menus from a small drawer.
"Thought you said you cooked?"
"After the fourth or fifth time being interrupted by calls from Agent Christopher, I kind of gave up doing it here. I got sick of coming back to rotten, half cooked food."
"So what do you like, anyways? What are some of your favourite foods?"
Lucy suddenly burst into laughter, completely cracking up, hands flying to her mouth to try containing it. Wyatt dropped the menus onto the counter and stepped towards her with concern.
"I'm okay," she wheezed. "Don't worry. You just… oh, wow."
"What? What did I do?" Wyatt was thoroughly baffled.
Lucy sucked in a few deep breaths and finally started to get herself under control.
"Sorry," she grinned wryly. "But you just threw me right back to my disastrous date night with Noah. You remember that?"
He frowned at being compared to Noah but nodded.
"I'd ordered in but tried to make it look like I'd cooked. I wasn't sure if the other me had been able to, so thought I should at least try to look like I'd made the effort. He figured me out easily and the whole thing was incredibly awkward. Then I tried to be nonchalant and ask him what his favourite foods were. I mean, we were supposed to be engaged and I didn't even know what his favourite foods were! He thought I was being super weird and called me out for asking a random, first date sort of question. The night continued to roll further into disaster from there." she stopped for a moment and gathered both his hands with hers. "And here we are, after all we've been through, now living together, having already agreed to have babies for God's sake… and we don't even know what each other's favourite foods are."
"It's kind of bizarre to think that we've eaten more food together in the past than we have in the present."
"I guess we just have to keep making up for lost time," Lucy suggested. "After all, we haven't even gone on our first date yet!"
"You mean Bonnie and Clyde didn't count? The trunk of Lucille the car? Hollywood?"
"You trying to get out of taking me on a proper date, Logan?"
"I would never turn down the chance," he swore. "But I think we're well past first date stage. I may not know your favourite take-out, but I know how you handle imprisonment and certain death at the hands of a tribe of Shawnee, so…"
"We are the most unconventional couple ever."
"Of all time, you could say."
She groaned and shook her head. "Are you going to say cheesy stuff like that on a regular basis?"
"I fully intend to, yeah. With all the material we've wracked up over the years? All, what, 326 of them?"
"You never went to Salem."
"Fine. All 264 of them."
"I can't believe you know that off the top of your head."
"Hey, clearly you do too."
"So we're both nerds?"
"Seems so. You must have been a bad influence on me."
"Me?" she cried, indignant. "You were already a nerd too. You just didn't realize it."
"I'm not a nerd!"
"Okay, Mr. I know everything about every car ever made, and absolutely everything about military history, and oh, yeah, I speak four languages, too."
Wyatt blushed and looked down at his feet. "Most of that's just useless crap. Stuff I heard that just stuck around."
"No, it's not!" Lucy said sternly. "Wyatt, it's amazing. You're amazing. Being nerdy, or smart, isn't something to be embarrassed about."
"It didn't really win you points where I came from. Or in the army."
"Well screw where you came from, and the people who couldn't see how remarkable you are. And don't feed me that line about dumb soldiers. You're delta force, one of the most elite teams on the planet. You don't get into that by being an idiot who can shoot well."
"Well I am a pretty damn good shot," he tried to joke.
"Don't deflect, Wyatt."
"Sorry," he looked at his feet again. "I'm not used to people saying stuff like that to me."
"Well," she wound her arms around his neck and stood up on her toes to softly kiss him. "Get used to it, soldier."
"I'll give it my best shot, ma'am."
They kissed until he backed her up against the counter, his hands reaching out to grab it, bracketing her slim frame with his arms. Lucy stretched her arms back to hoist herself up onto the counter, but her left hand hit the pile of take-out menus and slipped, shooting straight out to the side. She let out a muffled cry against his mouth as her body tumbled sideways. His arms clamped around her instinctively, not letting her fall and gathering her tight against his body. For a moment they were still, hearts beating against each other as their adrenaline faded. Her head tucked into his shoulder and she breathed him in, exhaling loudly. He chuckled, his broad chest rumbling beneath hers.
"Another thing I have to get used to?"
"Shut up," she laughed. "I only trip, like, once a month."
"Oh, is that all?"
"And I rarely break glasses. Anymore."
"Stories for another day."
He loosened his hold on her enough that he could bend down and kiss her. "I can't wait."
They grinned at each other for a moment, basking in the sure knowledge of so many more days together. Then Lucy's stomach grumbled. Loudly.
"And that's our cue," Wyatt laughed and let her go. "So, without any fits of hysteria this time… what are your favourite foods?"
To Be Continued…
So... to be honest I'm still not happy at all with how this turned out. I don't think I captured the giddiness I think they'd feel. The out-of-placeness. The nervousness at sudden cohabitation. The beginning of the come-down after all the madness of the last few days/weeks/years... But oh well. Two more chapters of hopefully making some of that happen. It's all written and ready. Speed of posting depends on you guys ;)