Since I'm stuck spiraling in Austenland, request for The Difficulties of Making Flynn Accept Human Contact (featuring one smol historian and a grumpy garbage king)
Frankly, it starts as a joke.
It’s sometime after they actually manage to stop Rittenhouse cold: it’s taken a shitload of fits and starts and miscommunications and other tragedies as they are trying to play as a team of four, but they finally ensure that no sir, Rittenhouse will not be interfering in the Spanish-American War of 1898. They get back to the present feeling almost goofy, grinning, forgetting that they hate (or rather, there are some Very Complicated Feelings among the trio and their new plus-one) each other for a bit. It appears on the whiteboard as a joke. Challenge for the Day: Hug Flynn.
(It was probably Rufus, and he certainly wasn’t intending to do it. Wyatt, likewise, would either be caught dead or rooting for the latter in the Army-Navy football game first.)
Therefore, the task falls to Lucy. She doesn’t want Flynn to bite her head off, especially when they’re finally on speaking terms again, but she also wants to show him that she appreciates what he’s doing for them, even in his usual bull-in-a-china-shop fashion. Plus, she doesn’t want him to think they are just using him for the muscle, and don’t care at all what happens as a result. So the next day, she does it. Steps up from behind and hugs him quickly.
Flynn freezes up. Gets a “that did not just happen” look on his face. Frees himself in a hurry, and walks around the rest of the day with an expression as wary as if Lucy tried to pull a gun on him.
(Hey. At least she tried.)
Still, though. A few weeks later, after a mission in 1873 nearly goes horrendously wrong, with Rittenhouse trying to kill Victoria Woodhull and other early suffragettes, and Flynn somehow saves the day, Lucy hugs him again. That is what the Time Team does: they hug. She hugs Wyatt, she hugs Rufus. Why shouldn’t she hug Flynn too? He looks like he could use it, and he did – well, surprisingly decently. So she does.
Flynn doesn’t pull away quite as quickly this time. He still gives her a look, however, as if he will charitably not mention this episode of momentary insanity, as if she has lost her mind and done something embarrassing in front of him, and he will not talk about it to be polite.
But then, even Wyatt gives him a casual slap on the shoulder. Says, “Hey, man. Good job back there, all right?”
Flynn looks warily at him. Nods. Glances back at them for a long moment, as if he’s going to say something, but doesn’t. Goes on his own way.
(Nobody said this was going to be easy.)
Lucy keeps up with it, though. She knows Flynn still might not believe half of what she has to say, and the only thing he really trusts in is action, in consistency, in results, in practical and demonstrative empirical evidence. She told him there was a better way, that not everything is going to be solved by shooting, that it matters that he’s chosen to fight with them (even if the alternative is rotting in jail, she’s still promised that they will do right by him – doesn’t think he really believes it, and it hurts her). They’re not going to treat him like another cog in the machine. He’s one of them now. Part of a team.
The team hugs each other. The team cares about each other.
Lucy stubbornly keeps at it.
Her nose fits between his shoulder blades when she hugs him from the back. She can feel him tense when she does, but now, at least, he doesn’t push her away. Sighs and seems to decide that fine. He’ll tolerate it. There are worse things that she could be doing. There are worse people than her.
(Rufus and Wyatt bet each other $20 that the other will hug Flynn first and live to tell the tale. Wyatt must either be really hard up for $20, or he too may like Flynn a little more than he lets on, because he wins. They’re both rather drunk, which probably helps.)
Finally, when Lucy goes for her usual quick hug, expecting Flynn to patiently ignore it like he does by now, he turns around instead, and catches her, pulls her against his chest, and holds her there for a brief, fierce moment. Doesn’t say a word, because, well, Rome wasn’t built in a day. But as she glances up, she’s certain she catches the flash of a smile.
“Thank you, Lucy,” he says, half under his breath. Almost shy. As if he’s looking at her, and finally seeing the Lucy he knew, his friend, the one who trusted him, comforted him. Gave him the journal. The woman he’s been looking for, in his disastrous way, all this time.
She smiles back.
“Hey,” she says quietly. “You’re welcome.”