DISCLAIMER: Warehouse 13 and it's characters belongs to Jack Kenny and Syfy.This story is for entertainment purposes only and no money exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: . This was written about two months ago, but it fell to the wayside after I got it back from my beta (the wonderful purrpickle). I was surprised however that in "Emily Lake," Steve knew who HG was even though no one ever told him about her (at least not on screen) and he wasn't around for "3...2...1." This is one possible scenario. 2. Angst warning, this does get a bit dark towards the end.
SPOILERS: Set between "3...2...1" and "Don't Hate the Player."
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To atsammy[at]gmail.com
Behind These Walls
Steve looked down at the fiddle he was carrying and back up at the never ending rows of shelves. He'd used the computer in Artie's office to get directions to the Dark Vault, but he couldn't find Newton 47, and after that turn he still had three more to go. He really wanted to get rid of the fiddle, or at least the gloves. He hated wearing the gloves.
"Oh, hey, Steve."
He jumped, just a little, before he turned around. Myka was standing behind him, a clipboard in hand.
"Sorry, I didn't mean to startle you."
"You didn't," he lied, and focused on the scrap of paper he'd written his directions on. "I was just..." He gestured vaguely down the aisle with the fiddle, "going that way."
"Is that Niel Gow's fiddle?"
"Yeah. Artie said it needed to go to the Dark Vault, but..."
Myka smiled at him. "You're going the wrong way," she said, and he eyed her nervously. He still hadn't forgotten the bronzing incident. "It's over there." Without turning, Myka pointed off behind her, towards a part of the Warehouse he passed ages ago.
"Of course it is." Steve sighed, and shoved the useless paper in his pocket. "Thanks."
"Why don't I come with you?" Myka offered as he set off.
"That's ok. I'll find it."
She caught up with him anyway. "I'm sure you will, but you need the code to get in."
That brought him up short. "There's a code?"
"It's where we store the dangerous artifacts, Steve. Of course there's a code," Myka replied, and this time he definitely heard the laughter in her voice.
"I thought they were all dangerous."
"They are... just some, more than others."
They walked for about twenty minutes, and Steve was sure that he would never be able to find his way again, at least the way she led him. It had only been two months since he'd arrived, but he was still lost more often than not. The Warehouse needed a guide book, though he'd mentioned that to Claudia once and she'd told him to read the manual. Pete had rolled his eyes and Steve had yet to do it.
When Myka came to a stop, they were in front of a heavy door that he knew he'd passed before.
"When do I get the code to the Dark Vault?" he asked as she typed it in.
Myka shrugged and pushed the door open. "You'll have to ask Artie. I got mine about six months after I got here, Pete sometime last year. They are keyed specifically to us, so my code would not work for you. Claudia upgraded it after we... broke in." She smiled, a quick twitch of her lips, and walked into the room.
He went to the pedestal she pointed at, the only empty one he could see in the dark room. The only light came from the odd purple circles on the floor, and he didn't need her warning to not step inside one, though he did appreciate it. It took him a moment (he had trouble seeing in the dark) but he got the information display set up like Claudia had shown him his first day of inventory duty. All that was left was to activate the purple light.
"Hey, Myka? How do I..." He turned away in time to see his fellow agent open a banker box on the floor about twenty feet away. She was inside the purple circle around it, and for a long moment all he could do was watch as she reached into the box and drew out... something. Papers, or maybe a book, he couldn't quite tell. When he finally stepped forward, Myka looked over at him, her eyes wide and... he couldn't quite read the emotion on her face, but she held the papers to her chest and rushed out of the room, her clipboard clattering to the floor in her wake.
"What the..." He stared after her, torn between rushing after her and getting back whatever it was she had just stolen from the Dark Vault, and figuring out how to turn the damned purple light on. Ultimately he stayed, because he figured Artie would know what to do about Myka later, and he needed to learn how all this Warehouse stuff worked. But first, he would straighten up Myka's mess, such as it was.
He picked up her clipboard and the box top from the floor and carefully stepped into the purple circle. When nothing happened, he relaxed and replaced the box top. "Huh?" he murmured as he read the writing on the box: H.G. Wells. Why would Myka take something that belonged to an author? He didn't know her that well, and she'd been only slightly less closed off to Pete and Claudia than she was to him since she came back. Yeah, he knew that she liked to read, a lot, but that didn't explain what just happened.
He shook his head and walked away. He'd deal with that later. For now, he had a light switch to find. Or something.
Claudia had her earphones in when Steve finally made it back to the office. One of these days he was going to stop getting lost; the only thing that eased the embarrassment was that he was usually able to find his way out. Eventually. He was just grateful that it was Claudia; he had a feeling that what he wanted to ask would not go over well with Artie or Pete. Not that he knew where that feeling came from, but there it was. Claudia was easier, even if she did still call him Poopy-Pants on occasion. Sometimes even in front of civilians while hunting down an artifact.
He waited for her to notice him, and was just about to go poke her in the arm when she looked up from her rapid typing. Still typing with one hand, she reached up with the other and pulled out her earphones.
"Hey, Jinxy, what's up?"
He came around behind her to see what she was doing, and it may as well have been in Chinese for all he understood what was on the screen.
"Nothing. I put the fiddle away in the Dark Vault."
She shrugged and carried on with her work.
"What are you doing?"
"Homework assignment," was her muttered response, and the way her shoulders hunched as she said it told him that she was embarrassed by that fact.
"Ok." He wandered around the office for a few minutes, waiting until the typing slowed. He'd learned his lesson weeks ago about not interrupting Claudia when she was writing computer code unless he wanted something very heavy thrown at him. She had very good aim, even when she wasn't looking. When it finally did, he wandered back over and sat down across from her.
"You look confused, Jinxy, what's really up?" Claudia asked him, not turning away from the keyboard.
Now that he was about to ask, he felt really stupid, and had a feeling that she would laugh at him. Maybe it was nothing, Myka was just a huge fan of H.G. Wells and couldn't resist? But the look on her face...
"This is going to sound weird... but does Myka have some weird fascination with H.G. Wells?"
He hated it when he couldn't look someone in the eyes when he was talking to them, but once again he didn't need his personal lie detector to know he'd touched on something more sensitive than he expected. The way Claudia hunched even more over her keyboard told him that.
"What makes you say that?" Claudia finally replied, her voice as devoid of emotion as he'd ever heard.
"Well..." He hesitated again, wondering if maybe he really didn't want to know. "She helped me get into the Dark Vault, and while I was putting away the Fiddle, she opened a box labelled H.G. Wells and took a book or something from it. It was weird, and she rushed out of there right after. She looked upset."
"She likes to read, every book she can get her hands on. Maybe she just wanted to read the original manuscript of War of the Worlds before bed tonight."
He didn't buy that for a moment, but he decided not to press the issue. "Ok." He got off the chair and headed for the door. "Dinner's soon. You want a ride back to Leena's?"
"No, thanks. Still too much to do here."
Claudia still didn't turn. "Later."
He paused in the open doorway and looked back. Claudia was still hunched over the computer, but he could see her cellphone in her hand. What the hell was going on here?
Dinner that night was just him and Leena, a quiet affair of spaghetti and clam sauce, and an hour later Steve found himself loitering outside Myka's closed door. He'd tried to bring up H.G. Wells with Leena over the garlic bread, but all he got back was an odd look and another piece of bread on his plate. He knew Myka was there, Leena confirmed that much, and he could see light from under the door.
Knocking on the door, he waited, shifting nervously from foot to foot. There was no response, and after a moment, he knocked again. This time, he heard faint footsteps, and the door opened enough for him to see Myka's face, and her reddened eyes.
"Hi." He put his hand lightly on the door when it was clear she wasn't going to let him in. "Can I come in?"
Her eyes were unreadable as she stared at him, and he returned the look guilelessly. Finally, she stepped back away from the door and opened it enough for him to pass her.
He took a moment to look around. He'd never been in Myka's room before, or even seen it, now that he thought about it. Pete's room was the unofficial hang out spot with his big screen TV and his xbox, or Claudia's for a few rounds of computer games. When he'd first arrived, before Myka returned, Leena had shown him directly to the room he had across the hall, and it never occurred to him to go snooping, unlike what he'd caught Claudia doing his second full day at the Warehouse. Myka's room was clean, as he would have expected, and the only personal items he could see were stacks of books along the walls and on top of the dresser in the corner. There was only one picture frame, an older couple, and Myka's briefcase on the cedar chest at the foot of the bed.
"Are you ok? Leena's got a plate for you downstairs if you're hungry."
"I'm fine. What do you want, Steve?"
While he'd inspected her room, Myka had moved over to sit on the edge of her bed.
"I was just wondering..." He'd settled on a question while out in the hallway, but, as had been happening all afternoon, now he was debating it again. Taking a deep breath, he just went with it. "Why did you leave?"
Myka just blinked at him for a moment, her face giving away nothing. "Why do you ask?" she asked evenly.
"It's just... It's the elephant in the room, you know? I mean, Pete has told the bleeding stone story twenty times, and I know Claudia's story, but no one ever talks about why you left. Or why you came back."
Myka met his gaze for a long moment, and then got up and walked to the window. From the way she sagged slightly against the windowsill, he had a feeling she stood there just like that often.
When it didn't look like she would answer, he shrugged, though she couldn't see it, and shoved his hands into his jeans pockets. "It doesn't matter, I was just curious..."
"Have you ever thought you knew something, knew you were right, even though everyone around you was telling you that you were wrong?" Myka interrupted him, her voice just barely above a whisper.
"Well..." He had no idea what to say to that.
"Believed in someone to the point that you risk everything for them, because there is no way that they could be what everyone else thinks they are?" she continued, staring out the window.
He took a step closer. "What happened?"
Myka turned away from the window and with halting steps, went over to her bed and sat down. "I was wrong," she whispered.
"What does this have to do with H.G. Wells?" The sharp look he got from her had him stepping back, hands raised. "I saw you take something of his from the Dark Vault."
Myka laughed, a hollow sound. She mumbled something too low for him to hear as she opened a drawer in her nightstand. She pulled out the stack of papers he'd seen earlier and a book. She set the papers aside and flipped through the book. She took out a photograph and looked at it, running her thumb across it gently, and held it out to him. "This is H.G. Wells," she said, her voice cracking slightly at the name.
He took it from her, looked at it and then back at her for a long moment, before focusing again on the image. It hadn't changed. It was of Myka, who he almost didn't recognize with her curly hair, and another tall, dark haired woman, walking along the beach somewhere. The other woman had her hands in the pockets of her long black coat, but the women were looking at each other as they walked, and Steve felt as if he were intruding on something just by looking at the picture. "H.G. Wells is a woman," he confirmed, still examining the picture.
"The guy who was born a hundred and fifty years ago, is a woman?"
"Helena. Her name is Helena."
"Then..." He faced her again, and said the only thing he could think of. "Who wrote the books?"
Myka laughed at that, a genuine laugh, not like before. "She did. Her brother got them published."
"Claudia... said we had a time machine. Is it hers? Is that how she got here?"
Myka bit her lip and looked away from him, a gesture he was starting to recognize as her defense mechanism. He wondered why he hadn't noticed it before. "Something like that, yeah."
He looked back at the picture. The two women made for a lovely picture, he thought to himself. "She's beautiful. You look good together," he offered, wondering if Pete and Claudia's easy acceptance of his sexuality came from their experience with Myka.
"Yes, she is." Myka took back the picture when he held it out to her, and stared at it for a few seconds more before tucking it back between the pages of her book.
"What happened?" The photo looked fairly recent, but in the months he'd been there, other than a reference by Claudia about a time machine that now sort of made sense, this woman had not been mentioned, not once. There had to be a reason why she wasn't around, there just had be. No one looked at someone else the way H.G. Wells was looking at Myka in that photo and then just walked away.
"She killed four people and tried to destroy the world."
"Oh." That... would definitely do it. For lack of anything else he could think of to do, he sat down beside her on the bed. "I'm sorry."
"Yeah. Anyway, I left. But..." Myka drew in a deep breath and sat up straighter. "I came back. I mean, no one ever really leaves the Warehouse, right?"
Steve nodded slowly. "I guess," he agreed.
"Not even her."
By the look on her face after she spoke, he knew she hadn't expected to say that.
"Have you seen her since then?"
Myka met his gaze squarely for the first time in their conversation. "Yes."
"The Regents have her imprisoned somewhere. I don't know where."
"Is that why her things are in the Dark Vault? Because of what she did?"
Myka shook her head. "I don't think so. She did steal artifacts, but we got all of them back. Artie probably stored everything else there out of spite. He never... trusted her. He warned me, so many times, but I didn't listen. I thought that I knew better than his instincts, Pete's vibes..."
"Did they know?"
"About her plan?"
"That you loved her."
He was watching her face closely, and despite the apparent ending to their story, the quick flash of a smile that crossed her face made him feel better.
"I don't know. Claudia, maybe. Leena, probably. Pete... knew that I was hurt? If he could have killed her I think he would have. Not just because I left, though he hasn't really forgiven me for leaving. I don't know how much else he really knew; he was so busy with Kelly that who knows how much else he ever actually saw."
Steve nodded. That all seemed to fit. Leena the all-knowing, Claudia who could keep things close to the chest, and oblivious Pete, who was maybe not as oblivious as Myka thought.
"So where do you go from here?"
Myka shrugged, again, but she faced him squarely for the first time. "Nowhere," she replied simply. "I stay here, and try to move on. Maybe I read the letters she wrote me," she reached out and touched the carefully folded papers on her nightstand. "Maybe I... forget that I loved her. That she held a gun to my head and I wanted her to pull the trigger, just so I wouldn't have to see her ruin everything. I don't know. Maybe one day I'll figure it out, but until then, I'm here. And here is not so bad."
The casual way she spoke made something inside him turn cold, because he could look her in the eye and see that she meant it.
"I'm ok, Steve," she interrupted, standing from the bed and replacing the letters and the book where she found them. "I can do my job, I can train Claudia, I can sword fight for artifacts. If that is all I ever have, that's enough. It will be enough."
If there was ever an outright dismissal, this was one, but even then, Steve didn't really know what to do. So he rubbed his hands against his pant legs and, with a short nod in her direction, he walked away. But he stopped as he opened the door, and looked back. She was standing by the window again, and Steve knew that he would never again be able to look at her without remembering that she would rather have been killed by her lover than be... here.
What the hell had he gotten himself into?
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