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Hour of the Wolf
Chapter 1 Helena's Hour of the Wolf
According to Swedish and Finnish folklore, The hour of the Wolf is the hour between night and dawn during which the wolf is said to lurk outside people's doors.
Ingmar Bergman, Hour of the Wolf, 1968
Susan Ivanova, Babylon 5, by Straczynski, J. Michael 1996
"Myka, wake up," Claudia pleaded as she gently shook her friend and coworker.
Myka finally stirred and looked up at Claudia with sleepy eyes. "What's wrong Claud?"
"It's HG. I think she's having a nightmare," she said softly and sank down on Myka's bed. She looked pleadingly at her. "Do you think you could ?"
Myka smiled. "Claudia, it's quite all right, she's not going to hurt you."
"You don't know that. People do crazy things when you wake them up. And she's already a little you know," she said and gestured wildly. "Not that I don't appreciate that she saved my life and all, but you know,"
Myka swung her legs over the edge of her bed. "It's okay. I'll see what I can do. Go back to bed Claud."
"You don't want me to come with you?" Claudia asked, not sure if going up against HG alone was such a great idea.
Myka chuckled. "She's not going to hurt me Claudia. There really is no reason to be nervous."
"Well if it's all the same to you, I'll hold on to that nervousness just a tad longer."
"Fine. Now off to bed with you."
Myka grabbed Claudia by the shoulders and steered her in the direction of her room. She waited until Claudia closed the door to her room before walking over to HG's. She stopped and listened. It was quiet. She was just about to go back to her room, when she heard HG's voice. She was crying out in her sleep, followed by what sounded like sobbing. Myka made up her mind and slowly opened the door. She quickly stepped inside and closed the door behind her. The room was dark, but enough light came through the windows for her to make out HG's sleeping form. She was tossing on the bed clearly having a bad dream. Myka felt a stab of pain in her heart. This woman had been through so much. She was amazed at how well she was holding up. Was this perhaps the outlet? Did HG suffer in silence during the Hour of the Wolf? She thought. Myka glanced at the alarm clock. It was 3:25 AM. She made a face. How fitting. She silently approached the bed and sat down on the edge.
"Helena," she whispered. "Wake up Helena."
No response. She was still in the grasp of whatever demons that plagued her in her dream. Myka reached out and gently shook her shoulder. She gasped and leaned back as HG sat up straight, holding her arm in an iron grip.
"Helena, it's just me, Myka," she said softly and tried to pry HG's fingers off her arm.
"Myka," she said confused. "What are you doing here?" Her eyes tried to focus.
"You were having a bad dream,"
"Oh," she said and looked away. "Well we all have those from time to time, don't we?" she said with a sad smile.
"I have a feeling that you have them more often than most people," Myka said gently. She reached over to tuck a lock of HG's hair behind her ear. When she touched her hair she realized that it was damp. She gently touched HG's cheek. "This was a really bad one, wasn't it? Why don't you tell me about it?"
HG shook her head. "I can't," she whispered.
Myka tried to hide her disappointment. She gently caressed HG's hair trying to comfort her. She looked so small in the large bed.
"Lie down Helena. I'll stay with you until you fall asleep," she offered.
HG looked at her as if she was searching for something in Myka's eyes. Finally she lay down. She took Myka's hand and held it to her chest.
"Would you "
"What Helena?" Myka asked softly.
She looked up at her with dark eyes. "Would you hold me?" she whispered.
Myka smiled and lay down on top of the comforter. She spooned up behind HG and wrapped her arm around her.
Myka closed her eyes, inhaling the scent of HG's hair. Under different circumstances this would have been very, very nice. Several long silent minutes passed, but HG was unable to go back to sleep. Myka pressed closer to HG for warmth as a shiver went through her body. HG noticed immediately and turned in her arms. She ran her hand down Myka's arm feeling her cold skin. When she touched Myka's leg she realized that she was only wearing underwear and that her legs were like icicles.
"I'm so sorry Myka," she said pained. "I didn't realize that you were getting cold. Come, get under the covers," she offered.
"It's okay Helena. Really," Myka protested.
"Nonsense," HG said and pulled the comforter from under Myka. Then something occurred to her. "Unless it bothers you to be this close to me," she said softly.
Myka smiled at her. HG was in so desperate need for comfort, yet she struggled asking for it, seemingly unsure if she deserved it.
"Absolutely not Helena. I just wanted to give you some space." She slipped between the sheets and shivered again. "I'm sorry I'm cold," she said a little embarrassed.
"Well, let me warm you then," HG said with a chuckle.
"Helena, I'm not the one hurting," Myka reminded her. "You don't have to do anything for me. Let me do this for you tonight," she asked softly.
HG made a sobbing little sound. Myka pulled her into a comfortable hug. "It's okay," she said softly and rubbed HG's back. "Were you dreaming about Christina?" she asked gently when HG started to quiet down.
Helena turned in Myka's arms and they looked at each other for a long moment. Myka waited and hoped that HG would say something. The eerie silence was starting to scare her.
"No," HG whispered. "Many of my nightmares center around my daughter's death, but not this one."
"Then what was it about?" Myka needed to know.
HG put her hand on Myka's cheek. "You," she finally said.
"Me?" Myka said confused.
HG nodded and Myka could feel her trembling again.
"It's okay Helena. I'm right here. I'm fine. Nothing will happen to me," she said quickly and hugged her. It surprised her how HG clung to her.
"You were trapped and I was trying to get to you, but no matter how I tried, I couldn't reach you," HG said with a sob. "You were slipping into the darkness and there was nothing I could do."
"It's okay Helena," she said again and kissed the top of her head. "You've saved my life more than once. I know that I can count on you."
HG looked up at her through wet eyelashes. "I don't want anything bad to happen to you," she said softly.
Myka smiled. "Right back at ya'."
HG put her head on Myka's shoulder and wrapped her arm around her. She sighed contentedly when Myka hugged her back.
"You were calling my name in the dark. I could hear that you were hurting, but I couldn't find you. I couldn't get to you. You were calling for me, but no matter how I tried, I couldn't. I let you down," HG said, working herself up again.
"Helena, calm down. It was just a dream," Myka said. She pressed her lips against HG's temple, not sure why really, it just felt like the right thing to do.
"But what if " she started, but Myka cut her off.
"No 'buts', and no 'what ifs' Helena," she said as her gentle fingers silenced HG.
HG hugged her closer. "Thank you darling," she whispered. She tilted her head up and brushed her lips against Myka's.
Myka was surprised, but she returned the kiss. It was soft and achingly sweet, but when HG didn't make any effort to deepen it, she didn't either. She heard HG sigh as she put her head down again. Myka cradled Helena's head against her shoulder. Myka kissed HG's forehead and her closed eyes. She could feel the smile on her companion's face.
"Thank you," she mumbled.
Moments later HG was asleep. Myka gazed down at her and marveled at how beautiful she was. HG looked so peaceful for once. She thought for a moment about leaving, but decided against it. If her presence could give HG one night of peaceful sleep, she was more than willing to give it to her. Myka closed her eyes and pulled the sleeping woman in her arms closer. HG's soft sigh was the last thing she heard before falling asleep.
Myka woke with a start. She felt trapped. She couldn't move. Something tickled her face and she brushed it off. Hair. Dark hair. Then she remembered. Helena. She tried to shake the sleepiness and blinked a couple of times in the bright morning light. HG was still asleep, half sprawled across her. HG's leg had nestled itself between hers and her head was tucked in under Myka's chin. Obviously there had been no more nightmares. Myka gently caressed her soft hair and watched HG stir. Soon dark eyelashes fluttered and HG looked at her with sleepy eyes.
"Morning," Myka said and smiled.
HG smiled and stretched. "Good morning darling." She settled back exactly where she had been. She turned her head and nuzzled Myka's neck. "Thank you for staying with me."
Myka shivered a little at the pleasant sensation HG's lips against her neck caused. "You're welcome. And as you can see, I'm very much alive and perfectly safe and sound," she teased.
Nimble fingers tickled her side and she shrieked a little. They looked at each other and laughed.
Myka smiled at her. She really enjoyed this softer side of HG. She realized that she was very fortunate to be allowed to witness it. In that moment, it really hit her how much HG trusted her. She reached out and gently pushed a lock of HG's hair behind her delicate ear.
"Thank you for trusting me," she said softly.
Myka had said good bye and gone back to her room to shower and get ready. A soft knock on her door startled her. Assuming it was HG she opened with a big smile. It was Claudia. Myka's smile turned into a softer one.
"Claudia, come in," she said and opened the door.
Claudia eyed her suspiciously. "Are you okay?"
Myka laughed and shook her head. "Yeah, why wouldn't I be?"
"She didn't you know," Claudia made some karate-like moves in the air. "Go all ninja on you or something?"
Myka laughed and shook her head. "Claudia, seriously, she's not dangerous."
"Whatever," Claudia muttered and plopped down on Myka's bed. "So?"
"What?" Myka looked up at her and closed her sock drawer. She sat down and quickly pulled on her socks.
"Was I right?"
Myka sighed. "Claudia, I can't really talk about it. It's private. I'm sure that you can understand that."
Claudia nodded. "As long as you're sure you're not hurt," she warned.
"Are you hurt darling?" a concerned British voice said. HG was standing over by the open door.
"Helena," Myka said and her face lit up. "Come in. Claudia and I were just talking."
Claudia looked at her and then at HG. She noticed the softness in HG's eyes when she looked at Myka and she finally understood. She suppressed the urge to yell "score" for having pushed the two together without even knowing. She watched HG touch Myka's shoulder as she walked by her, her fingers caressing her as she passed. Claudia smirked. Nice move HG. She looked at Myka and saw her bite her lip. Oh this is going to be fun, she thought. She leaned back on her hands and grinned at HG.
"So, HG how are you feeling today? Sleep well?"
HG raised an eyebrow. She shook her head and laughed. "Yes, I did. Thank you for asking."
"You look rested," Claudia pushed on. "A little more color on your face, you know, than you usually have."
Myka shot her a warning look that she ignored. "Whatever made you sleep, you better hold on to the recipe, because it's working for ya'," Claudia said cheerfully.
HG laughed. "That's a great idea Claudia," she said and looked at Myka with twinkling eyes. Myka blushed and jumped to her feet.
"Come on you two. I'm starving. Let's hope Pete didn't eat all the goodies."
Claudia jumped off the bed and left, Myka right behind her. HG grabbed her arm. "Myka," she said softly. "Thank you."
Myka smiled. "Any time."
HG smiled and nodded.
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