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Post-Its of a Life Well-Loved
The book was really nothing more than an extremely large leather-bound journal that, in and of itself, was wholly unremarkable. Its spine lacked the gilded titles of H.G.'s other novels, all of which were lovingly archived in the chronological order of their publication on her crowded bookshelves, but it held more of the brilliant woman's heart and passion than all of those other works combined.
When opened, one would expect to find lines of thoughts, musings, and ruminations, but instead the reader would be greeted by a lone yellow square of paper lovingly set in the exact middle of what would be the title page in a traditional novel.
Keep it. You can owe me.
Claudia smiled at the cheeky, flirtatious message scribbled in the artificer's distinctive scrawl and nodded sadly to herself as she pictured her now deceased friends smiling and laughing together as one or the other would respond to whatever it had just happened with that same playful rejoinder.
You can owe me.
In calendar years, Claudia had now passed the two-century mark (though she looked even younger than the thirty-two years she'd been when she'd taken over the position of Caretaker for the Warehouse) and she was acutely, painfully alone. Those she had considered her family Artie, Pete, Leena, Steve, Helena, and Myka were gone, dead and buried, and all she had left of them were her memories.
When she needed to feel comforted, she would make a cup of tea (like Leena used to do for her), sit down with a plate of cookies (like Artie used to make), and watch old, cheesy horror movies (like she used to do with Pete and Jinks). And, most of the time, those simple reminders of a past happiness were enough to get her through whatever melancholy it was she was feeling. The tea would warm her heart, the cookies would fill her belly, and the movie would occupy her mind just long enough for her to fall asleep so that when she woke up the next morning she would forget about whatever it was that had gotten her so down.
Most of the time, that approach was enough to get her through the week.
She honestly didn't even know how many times over the last decade she'd utilized it; but there were other times, times where making that impossible decision as to what needed to be done was just so goddamn hard that she needed something more than the comfort she took from her old routines.
She needed to know that all of it, the decisions, the hurt, the death, the destruction, that all of it was worth it. And it was at those times that she pulled the leather journal off her bookshelf, wrapped herself in a hand-knitted shawl H.G. had given her for her twenty-fifth birthday, and cuddled into her favorite chair in front of the fire. She would smooth her hands over the faded cover and watch the way the firelight flickered across the aged surface of the book, and then she would open it, slowly, tenderly, like it was the greatest treasure in the world.
The first time she'd read through the book, she'd been embarrassed by what she'd read and had felt like a pervert for perusing her friends' most intimate thoughts and desires. But time and loneliness for she never let herself get as emotionally close to anyone than she did with her original Warehouse family ate at those feelings of embarrassment until they were barely noticeable, and she was able to appreciate the messages inside as a reminder of the brilliant, beautiful women who had impacted her life so profoundly.
Suspected artifact in Maine.
Going w/Pete to retrieve it.
Will be home soon.
There were a number of ordinary notes like that littered amongst the pages of the journal; simple, hastily scrawled messages of what was happening that always included an 'I love you' of some kind. These made her smile, and she could easily picture Myka (or Helena) ignoring whomever it was that was urging them to hurry up and get going so that she could leave one last note for the other before running out the door. More often than not, it was Pete who had been frustrated at waiting for Myka to finish writing, though Claudia always suspected that his protestations were more for show than anything else, because he was happiest when Myka was happy.
And Myka was happiest when she was with Helena, even if she found the artificer to be absolutely distracting at times.
Your nipples showing through your shirt
are hell on my concentration today.
Think you could put on a sweater?
The first time Claudia had read that particular note (which was scribbled on a blue post-it that, strangely enough, seemed to exactly match the color of a shirt Helena used to love to wear) she'd choked on the drink of water she'd been swallowing.
And then she'd laughed.
Long and loud and hard until tears were rolling down her cheeks, because she could just picture the cheeky smirk Helena would have given Myka before not only refusing to cover up but, more than likely, also going so far as to pop another button to taunt her with that which she wanted but could not have.
Couldn't have right then, anyways. She didn't doubt that once they were alone, all bets were off.
Your 'partner' (and I use that term loosely as you are MINE)
is teasing me for walking stiffly this morning.
I would be mortally embarrassed
about it except every ache reminds me of the way
you felt moving inside me and all I can do is smile.
I love you. ~H
Well, if you didn't look so beautiful as you came,
I might have been able to restrain myself better.
Just ignore him. Or bring up the Akihiro Miwa artifact.
That'll shut him up.
Claudia sniggered as she remembered Pete's run-in with the famous drag queen's hat that had made him think he was a female impersonator and dance around in a sequined skirt and Go Go boots while singing show tunes. Now that had been an epic mission that, to this day, she was still sorry that she'd missed out on. She'd been stuck at the warehouse for it because Artie had been having a conniption about something to do with the security programming, but Myka had used the record feature that she'd installed on the Durational Spectrometer to show her Pete's performance in all its embarrassing glory. That video had played on a loop on the Warehouse monitors for weeks before it had been mysteriously deleted from her computer's hard drive.
She still suspected that Artie had been responsible for the disappearance of that file and, even now, she was mildly annoyed with him over it.
Five years ago, you pointed a gun at me
and my life has never been the same since.
Happy Anniversary, darling.
I love you more than words can
ever properly express.
"Panty dropper," Claudia murmured affectionately. Helena was certainly the more romantic of the pair, leaving sweet little notes for Myka to find, but it made sense that with everything she'd been through that she would be more vocal about her affections.
And Myka Myka was just vocal. She chuckled as she remembered the sound-suppressing bubble she'd created for the couple's bedroom at the Bed and Breakfast so that the rest of them wouldn't be subjected to the seemingly never-ending sounds of their pleasure. Pleasure that was found in many forms, as evidenced by the day Myka announced she was pregnant with hers and Helena's first child.
Helena had glowed at the announcement. Pete had grinned. She remembered doing a little jig and squealing loudly as she clapped her hand excitedly. Leena had just grinned and nodded knowingly. And Artie had beamed like a proud papa as he congratulated the two women. That first pregnancy was a smooth one, all things considered, though, judging by the notes in the journal, Helena did have a bit more to deal with than the rest of them.
Not that Claudia expected Helena had complained about any of it.
Tell me again why I thought you wearing that
Mayan fertility artifact was a good idea?
My ankles are swollen, my back hurts, and
I really want fried pickles for some reason.
Being pregnant sucks.
But you are beautiful, darling, and knowing that
you are carrying our child makes me love you
even more than I thought was humanly possible.
PS I'll stop for the pickles on my way home.
Forget the pickles. I just want you.
Preferably naked, but as long as you're touching
me I won't be too picky.
If I don't orgasm soon, I might die.
"You were a horny little bastard when you were preggo, Mykes," Claudia murmured, her lips quirking up in a smile as she remembered all the places she'd inadvertently ran across Helena satisfying that particular craving of Myka's. It had eventually gotten to the point that the only people assigned to do inventory were Myka and Helena because at least then nobody else would be subjected to the visual of Helena on her knees with her head buried between Myka's legs.
Once was more than enough, thank you very much.
Of course, since Myka and Helena had three children together, nobody was fortunate enough to only witness that particular situation once. Pete had had the dubious honor of having walked-in on them a grand total of twenty two times over the course of all three pregnancies, and he never once let either of them live it down.
They had been, thankfully, much better at controlling themselves when Myka wasn't pregnant, and the rest of the Warehouse team was frequently enlisted to help watch the children so they could enjoy a night out or, on special occasions, a weekend away.
Leena agreed to watch the kids for the weekend
so we can celebrate our
10-year anniversary in style.
Do you have any requests?
On a bed. A Table. A rug in front of a fire.
A wall. A shower
Oh, darling. I do love how you think.
All of that can be easily arranged, I'm sure.
Good. Because I just talked to Leena
and she's cool with watching the kids
for a few extra days. Artie is taking us off rotation
for the rest of the week and Claud's working
on getting us plane tickets now.
The weekend is starting early.
The majority of the notes were along these lines, brief snippets of conversation exchanged via a handwritten note when a text message would have sufficed. But it was fitting for them. And it was comforting for Claudia to see that even as the years passed and the general subject matter of the notes began to include reminders of dentist appointments for the children, soccer practices, and parent-teacher conferences, that the passion between the two fated lovers continued to burn brightly.
I close my eyes and I swear I can still
taste your skin against my tongue.
I will never tire of making love to you.
Smooth talker. You're still in trouble for that
hickey you left on my neck, though. Pete's been teasing
me about it all morning.
Yeah, he's not embarrassed by that anymore.
Oh? That's rather unfortunate.
You're lucky I love you.
Of that, you will never have to try and convince me.
I know exactly how lucky I am to have your love.
And just like that, you're out of the doghouse.
Well played, Wells. Well played.
I'll make it up to you later, darling. I promise.
As long as "making it up" to me includes you being
tied to the bed as I have my way with you, over and over
again until you're begging for release, consider it a deal.
Heading to the car now.
Claudia laughed and shook her head, easily picturing the giddy smile that Helena always got whenever Myka whispered something suggestive in her ear.
She flipped through pages and pages of meticulously archived notes, her fingers skimming over the loose edges of the post-its as she read them. The messages were mildly repetitive, even the more explicit ones tended to include the same basic elements, but there was such love evident in each that she found the weight of despair that had settled on her heart begin to ease.
This is why she did the job she did.
This is why she trusted no one but herself to stand at the helm of the Warehouse.
There were millions of connections just like Myka and Helena's out there in the world that needed protection, and she felt obligated to try and safeguard each one. She flipped to the last page of the journal, the large sheet holding only three notes where most of the previous ones held anywhere from six to a dozen.
Her heart clenched as she looked at those two blue post-its and the lone yellow square beside them and, as they always did whenever she reached this part of the book, her eyes filled with tears.
The blue ones were written in Myka's precise hand, and Claudia knew they were the ones that Helena had found after Myka had passed away after an arduous battle with breast cancer.
You have a beautiful heart, Helena,
and I want to say thank you for sharing it with me
these last 58 years. Loving you has made my life
worth living, and I don't regret one moment that
we spent together.
I love you. God, do I love you, and
I wish we had more time.
Though even forever would feel too short.
I will be waiting for you in heaven,
my love, for there is no one else
I'd wish to spend an eternity with than you.
Claudia swallowed thickly and read on, the tears that had been building in her eyes spilling over her cheeks as she read Helena's simple reply:
Keep my heart, darling.
You can owe me.
She cleared her throat and shook her head as she closed the journal and held it on her lap as she stared at the dancing flames in the fireplace.
"Thank you for everything you have ever taught me," she whispered, her voice cracking as her eyes continued to water as she imagined Helena's rich, melodious voice answering, Our pleasure, darling, You can owe us.
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