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Death raced around the world on the wispy wings of a preternatural plague and Mrs. Frederic wasted no time taking off herself. Her ultimate destination: a secluded mountain cabin in the Pyrenees. Her target: none other than H.G. Wells.
She had known, even when she had sent the artificer off with the astrolabe all those days ago, that this would be inevitable. That the team would fail to stop the astrolabe's spirit that possessed Artie. That it would be successful in its attempt to wipe itself from the earth.
So she had planned and prepared for this eventuality. She had slipped an envelope labeled Read only upon my express instruction or the success of the Warehouse team in neutralizing the astrolabe's spirit into H.G.'s luggage. She took Claudia under her wing and kicked open the door to the Warehouse's true nature for the young woman's brilliant mind to begin to understand why and how it worked. She settled her debts, made peace with her past, and embraced her limited future.
Then she waited. Waited until it was time for her to take that final, selfless step forward and act.
And that time was now.
She apparated behind Helena - who was curled in a dove gray upholstered armchair, writing in a leather-bound journal - and smiled as she recognized it as being the one she had slipped her letter to the Englishwoman.
"Did you find my letter?" she asked, chuckling softly under her breath at the way H.G.'s shoulders tensed at the unexpected sound of her voice. It was childish to take joy in scaring her agents, but she couldn't deny that she did derive a great amount of amusement from it.
Helena licked her lips and turned in her seat to face the Caretaker. "I did."
Mrs. Frederic nodded. "Did you open it?"
The Caretaker took a deep breath and said, "I would like for you to open it now, please."
Helena arched a brow questioningly but nevertheless pulled the pristine envelope from the front of her journal. She slipped her finger under the flap and tore it open, and she looked up questioningly at the Caretaker as she unfolded the single sheet of paper. It didn't take her long to read the concise message on it, and she frowned as she reached the end of it. "You're certain?"
"I see," Helena murmured, as she meticulously refolded the page in her hand and slipped it carefully into its envelope. "And regarding your instructions?"
"I don't doubt that you'll know when it's the right time," Mrs. Frederic assured her. She took a deep breath and offered the artificer a rare, soft smile. "You have done more than your duty to the Warehouse, Agent Wells. It is my turn to, as Agent Lattimer would say, step up to the plate."
"But you told me to not contact anyone from the Warehouse. How will they find me so that I'll know they were successful?"
Mrs. Frederic huffed a breath and shook her head. "Do you sincerely believe that Myka, knowing that the threat has been extinguished, wouldn't come looking for you?"
Helena blushed and looked down at the journal on her lap, her eyes tracing the lines of the love letter she had been writing to the curly-haired agent with no intention of ever delivering. "How did you know?"
"She has been spending every free minute she's had since you went searching for Borgia's dagger, searching for some sign of your location," Mrs. Frederic explained softly. "She's also employed Claudia's considerable computer skills in her search, and it was only my influence over Ms. Donovan that kept her from finding out where you were long before now. And with the threat against the Warehouse neutralized, I can't envision a reason why I would prevent her from locating you."
It warmed Helena's heart to know that Myka had truly missed her, and she smiled sadly at the Caretaker as she followed her train of thought to the very end. "And when she finds me..."
"You will once again open that letter, and you will do your duty," Mrs. Frederic replied.
"But then..." Helena's voice trailed off as the weight of what she had been tasked to do settled squarely upon her shoulders.
"Yes," Mrs. Frederic said, nodding.
"Is Claudia really ready to do this?" Helena asked, waving a hand at the Caretaker.
Mrs. Frederic smiled. "She's as ready as any of us are when we are handed the reins to the Warehouse."
Helena nodded slowly, seeing the truth in the Caretaker's words. "And, why, exactly, do you trust me to carry-out your instructions?"
"Because you, more than anyone, even Artie, understand the murky depths of madness and the fact that there is oftentimes an ultimate price that must be paid to escape its clutches," Mrs. Frederic explained. "I trust you will do the right thing, Agent Wells, no matter how difficult it might at first seem."
Helena swallowed thickly and nodded, accepting the responsibility Mrs. Frederic had bestowed upon her. "Right, then. So I'm assuming you'll be needing the astrolabe..."
Helena looked up from her journal that she was busy writing in at the sound of somebody knocking frantically at the door to her grandfather's cabin in the Pyrenees, and frowned as she got to her feet to see whom, exactly, it was that was making such a ruckus.
"Helena!" Myka's voice rang out, and she smiled as her heart swept into her throat and her stomach instantly twisted with butterflies at the sound of the younger woman's voice. She walked on shaking legs to the door and peered carefully through the fabric covering the small square window set in the wood, determined to proceed carefully until she was assured that the younger woman's appearance didn't pose a threat.
Myka was alone, looking breathtakingly beautiful with her wild curls flowing freely around her shoulders in a pair of fitted dungarees and a pale blue camp shirt under a brown leather jacket. Her instinct was to throw the door open and welcome the other woman inside, but she curtailed her impulsiveness for a moment to carefully survey the area around the cabin to make sure that there were no threats lurking behind her. Once she was satisfied that Myka truly was alone, yet unwilling to completely relax her guard just yet, she unbolted the door and pulled it slowly open as she leveled the gun in her hand at waist height, ready to fire, just in case.
Myka's lips quirked up in an amused smile at the sight of Helena's weapon and she arched a brow questioningly at the artificer. "Are we truly destined to forever meet at gunpoint?"
"I believe we just may be," Helena replied softly, her gaze busy sweeping the grounds behind Myka. The cabin was set in the middle of a clearing and she was wary of who might be hiding just out of sight in the woods that encircled the property. "I'm alone," Myka whispered, holding her ground as she waited for Helena to determine that everything was okay. "It's just me."
"Pete? Claudia?" "Pete is down at the tavern in the village at the bottom of the mountain, eating piles of food and flirting unabashedly with the pretty blonde server," Myka said, chuckling. She smiled as Helena stepped out of the way and motioned her inside. The main room was cozy, warmed by a fire in the fireplace, and she felt instant at ease amongst the overflowing bookshelves and well-worn furniture. It was a setting she could easily picture herself relaxing in.
"She's back at the Warehouse, keeping an eye on Artie." Helena nodded.
"And how is he doing?"
"He'll be okay," Myka murmured. "We were able to stab him with Borgia's dagger, which cast the astrolabe's spirit from him, before he could use the orchid. Now it's a matter of him dealing with the emotional toll of what he did and trying to come to terms with the fact that he ended up to be the evil that was threatening the Warehouse."
"So the threat is over," Helena sighed.
"For now," Myka agreed, smiling. Her smile softened and she licked her lips as she reached out to take Helena's hand into her own. "I came for you as soon as I could."
Helena smiled and gave the younger woman's hand a gentle squeeze. "Of that, I have no doubt, darling."
Myka looked down at their joined hands and sighed softly as her pulse, which had been racing, noticeably slowed at the feeling of Helena's hand in her own. "Artie told me that you sacrificed yourself to save us all in that alternate timeline."
"That's what I was also told, yes," Helena admitted softly.
Myka's gaze softened as she stared into Helena's eyes, "Why?"
"I think you know the answer to that, Myka," Helena murmured. She swallowed thickly and took a small step forward so that she was standing nearly hip to hip with the younger woman. Her eyes flashed down to Myka's lips and she felt her heart skip a beat at the way the curly-haired woman's tongue swept slowly across the plump, pinked flesh. "I..."
But, before Helena could say anything else, Myka leaned in and captured the artificer's lips in a slow, sweet kiss. Time stopped as they came together, hands roaming over soft curves as they lost themselves in each other. Hearts raced as their kisses became deeper and hungrier, and Myka groaned as she felt Helena's hands wrap around her ass and pull her in tighter. "Take me to bed, Helena," she husked.
"As you wish, darling," Helena whispered, smiling as she recaptured Myka's lips with her own.
The next morning, Helena slipped out of bed in the early pre-dawn hours to relight the fire in the fireplace to bring the cabin up to a more comfortable temperature. When she was on her way back to bed, her eyes landed on her journal that sat abandoned on the cushion of the armchair she'd been sitting in when Myka had arrived the night before, only now remembering the letter from Mrs. Frederic that she had tucked safely inside the front cover.
She glanced at the bed where Myka lay sleeping and pulled the envelope from the journal. She slid her index finger beneath the flap and tore it open, and licked her lips anxiously as she pulled out a single sheet of paper. The small, tidy scrawl upon the page was instantly recognizable as Mrs. Fredric's, and she told a deep breath as she started to read.
If you are reading this, then your time to serve has come. I was forced to use the astrolabe to reverse the effects of Artie's use of the artifact, and I am now the greatest threat facing the Warehouse. I am assigning you the responsibility of using Borgia's dagger to reverse the effects my use of the astrolabe has wrought within me. I do not know if I will survive having the spirit exorcised, but I trust you to carry out this responsibility I have given you nonetheless. Should I perish, Claudia will take my place. The Warehouse will go on and that, more than my own continued existence, is my greatest concern.
You have proven yourself a capable agent of the Warehouse, and I know that my faith in you ability to carry out my final command has not been misplaced. Be strong, Helena. Take this miraculous third opportunity for happiness that you have been given and make the most of it.
I expect I'll see you shortly.
P.S. You have my permission to share the contents of this letter with Agent Bering, as I do not doubt that she came to find you as soon as it was possible for her to do so.
Helena sighed as she finished reading and looked up at Myka, who was still asleep, her bare shoulder peeking out from beneath the thick down comforter that covered the bed. She looked from the woman Mrs. Frederic had referred to as her 'miraculous third opportunity for happiness' and back to the page in her hand, the weightless feeling of utter contentedness she'd been feeling earlier replaced with the familiar leaden feeling of duty and responsibility. She pulled her robe tighter around herself as she sat on the edge of the bed, and she smiled sadly as she leaned forward to press a reverent kiss to Myka's naked shoulder. "Wake up, darling."
Myka hummed softly as she stretched beneath the covers. "Come back to bed, Helena. We don't have to be back in the village to meet Pete until tonight."
For as tempting as Myka's offer was, Helena shook her head and sighed as she ran a gentle hand down the younger woman's arm. "I'm afraid we need to go now, my love."
Sleepy green eyes opened to gaze blearily up at the somber Englishwoman. "What are you talking about?"
"This," Helena said, holding the Caretaker's letter out for the younger woman to see. "It would appear that my services are needed back at the Warehouse."
Myka's brow furrowed as she read the letter Mrs. Fredric had written Helena once, twice, three times, trying to fit what the letter was saying into what she knew. "Are you sure?"
Helena nodded. "I have had that letter in my possession since the day she sent me into hiding with the astrolabe. So it would not have been affected her use of the astrolabe because it was outside the timeframe if influence."
"Oh, Helena," Myka murmured, looking from the letter in her hands to Helena and back again. "What are you going to do?"
"What she asked me to do," Helena said, shrugging. "What else can I do?"
Myka chewed her lip thoughtfully, her mind busy trying to find a flaw in the Caretaker's reasoning. Mrs. Frederic had told them that one of the Warehouse overseers had used the astrolabe to give the team a second chance to stop Artie, but she had never said that it had been her. "Why didn't she tell us?"
"I suspect it was because she wanted you lot to focus on stopping Artie," Helena hypothesized. "And I'm willing to guess that she was afraid that if you knew she was the one who had done it, that you would have tried to save her as well; therefore sacrificing your opportunity to stop Artie and prevent him from using the orchid."
Myka nodded slowly. What Helena said made sense, even if she didn't like where it left them. "So we need to get the dagger out of the warehouse without Mrs. Fredric knowing about it, and use it to try and cast the astrolabe's spirit from her. Even of it kills her."
"We all sacrifice ourselves for those we love," Helena murmured.
"And you sacrificed yourself for us," Myka said.
"For you, darling," Helena corrected gently, reaching up and cradling Myka's face in her hand as she smoothed her thumb over the younger woman's cheek.
Myka smiled and pushed herself up onto an elbow, the duvet falling to her waist as she leaned in and captured Helena's lips in a soft, adoring kiss. "I love you too, Helena."
However, no matter how tempted they were to stay in bed and forget about the world, their sense of duty spurred them into action after only a few kisses, and they showered and dressed quickly, their eyes lingering on soft curves and intimate shadows they knew they couldn't take the time to touch right then. Myka sat on the edge of the bed as Helena hurriedly packed what belongings she'd brought with her to the cabin, and then they left, hand in hand, each determined to carry out the instructions Mrs. Fredric had left Helena.
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